Smart Growth: What I’ve Learned About Building a Thriving Business

Belle Turns Four - blog post

Note: In celebration of what we’ve accomplished, we plan to savor this moment by bringing our multi-state virtual team together in person to toast to our successes. Follow along with us on Instagram (#BelleBirthdayBash) to take part in the festivities.

Proud. Honored. Humbled. Although all true, these words just can’t quite capture the emotions I feel as our agency celebrates FOUR years in business this week. This company is my baby, and I feel like a mom who is looking at her four year old and thinking, “how did you grow so fast?!” Like every year for any business, it’s had ups and downs, but I’m grateful to say the successes have far, far outweighed the setbacks.

Where Vision Meets Reality

In last year’s Belle-iversary post, I shared about how we as a team had defined our agency’s mission – to empower meaningful work and thriving relationships – and our 7 Core Belle-iefs. Laying that foundation has proved invaluable to our success. We’ve said yes or no to potential clients, new hires and various business opportunities by measuring them up against our vision and values.

Since defining who we are as a company and establishing our long-term goals, everyone on the team understands the big picture and knows where we’re headed. It’s allowed for a culture where each member of the team can thrive in her own role.

Smart Growth = Saying Yes to the Right Things

After all that foundation-laying in Year Three, Year Four has brought a key truth into focus. While we have ambitious (some might say audacious) goals for our agency, I’ve realized more than ever that SMART growth is much more important than rapid growth.

We could have said “yes” to every penny of increased revenue and jumped into every new business opportunity, but instead we’ve been selective about working with clients who we believe will be a great fit for us. We prioritize profitability and culture over short-term growth.

When we needed to grow our team, we could have hired the first good – or even great – employees who applied, but instead we waited until we found the RIGHT ones. The ones who truly embrace our vision and embody our values.

By saying no to the “good enough” and the “pretty close,” we free ourselves to pursue what truly aligns with our goals and values, resulting in better outcomes than we ever could have imagined. (That’s true in business and in life, by the way.) On that note, please allow me to #humblebrag for just a moment and share some of our successes and highlights from the past year:

Year Four Highlight Reel

There are numerous aspects of the past four years that I am beyond thankful for and I’ve included some of the standouts below. By far I am most proud of our team. I am impressed daily by the intelligence, creativity, strength, commitment, care and spirit of each member of our team. Together we’ve …

  • Generated more than $1.5MM in new revenue in 2016 for our client partners through strategic thought leadership
  • Ranked among the Top 10 PR Firms in Central Ohio by Columbus CEO
  • Brought on FIVE exceptional new team members
  • Partnered with amazing clients like Lextant, CDDC, Nestle, IGS, Spain (as in the country!) and a number of other smart, innovative brand leaders.
  • Received an Award of Merit from the PRSA Diamond Awards for our work with Lextant
  • Received a Bulldog Reporter Bronze Award for “Best Campaign Under $100,000” for our work with Lextant
  • Welcomed two new Belle Babies, Lily and Rowan (and another one is on the way!!) …
  • …and increased our paid maternity leave from six to eight weeks
  • Received a Smart Business Pillar Award for Community Service for our pro bono work with Freedom a la Cart
  • Nominated for 4+ PRSA PRISM awards, which we will receive in May
  • Nominated for a Gold SABRE award with results announced in May
  • I was honored in Smart Business Network’s “Smart 50” Class of 2016

On the Horizon …

We’re exploring new opportunities to add value to our client partners through expanded services within influencer relations, social media, experiential events and digital reputation management. We will continue our commitment to generating results that translate into business outcomes, building on the success we’ve seen in revenue, distribution and thought leadership gains for our client partners.

We’re also investing in technology to ensure we stay on top of trends and continue to offer the best insight and support to our clients, industry and team. We remain focused within our vision to empower meaningful work and thriving relationships.

Our foundation is strong, our future is bright and I can’t wait to see what year five has in store.

Kate Finley

Founder + CEO of Belle
Currently thriving in Columbus OH