Amara Omoregie is an entrepreneur and marketing professional-turned-guru. In 2009, after spending years catering to the marketing needs of various companies, she decided to venture off on her own to found amaraREPS. As Chief Marketing Officer to this boutique marketing firm, Omoregie leads initiatives such as business development, strategic planning, and branding for small businesses.
In this Fireside Chat, we learned about what inspired her to make the leap into entrepreneurship and her tips for anyone working in the marketing field.
What did you do prior to building amaraREPS?
Prior to amaraREPS, I created a marketing company for ethnic beauty and health brands. When I moved to California ten years ago, it was challenging to find resources for my health and beauty needs, and the internet wasn’t as streamlined as it is today. Beauty bloggers didn’t existent at that time, and there was a need for marketing in the industry. Eventually I went to school for marketing and over the course of a few years I worked at different agencies including Fortune 500 companies and the state of California.
Following that, one of my friends who was a hip-hop artist approached me and said, “You’re going to be my manager.” I knew nothing about being a talent manager, but he helped start me out by creating a brand logo for me, and I helped him get different bookings which I was surprisingly good at.
How did you find your niche?
Initially, the companies that I worked for were large agencies, and we didn’t work with clients that had less than a $10,000 budget. However, when I worked with the hip-hop artist, it was a different experience. I was able to make a direct impact. I remember being on stage with Method Man, De La Soul, and other big artists that he never dreamed of meeting let alone performing with. Reflect on the stage, I thought, “wow, I made this happen”. This experience convinced me to work with small businesses because they are the underdogs and need the most help. I realized that this is the sector where I could make the biggest impact.
What gave you the push you needed to finally pursue entrepreneurship?
There are a lot of moving parts in a marketing agency, and sometimes I felt as though the clients’ needs fell by the wayside. We weren’t always doing what was best for the client and instead were doing what was best for ourselves. I didn’t like that because I actually wanted to help the clients accomplish their goals. I also didn’t like the culture because it was difficult for creative thinkers to thrive there, so there was a bit of disconnect.
What life lessons have you learned from starting your own business?
I learned that you have to separate your business from your personal life. The need to be like can be detrimental because it gets in the way of decision-making. I’ve also learned to treat myself as my best client. I need to treat myself well in order to grow and for my business to thrive.
What were some of the logistics required to build amaraREPS from the ground up?
One day, I walked into my boss’ office and just quit. I had a realization that I am not meant to work for somebody else. If I can help my boss run his company, I can run my own. When I quit, I didn’t have any clients lined up, but the next week, I landed two clients. That was my first challenge—survival. From then on, things starting moving pretty quickly, and I realized that I couldn’t build the business and work with clients at the same time, so I hired my first employee.
I think a lot of people spend too much time planning, which prevents you from actually being able to start. You can’t avoid the hard stuff. You have to just take it head-on and start. Go out there and just get your first client.
What are some things marketing professionals need to know to be successful?
1. This is an evolving industry. When you are in marketing, you are always learning new methods and techniques. Going to school for marketing won’t necessarily teach you what you need to know, and even when it does, what you learn won’t be relevant for very long. Right now, machine learning and chat bot technology are huge and are making a big difference for small businesses.
2. Understanding your audience and how to specifically market to them is also extremely important. Different generations see the world through different lenses. You have to understand their values and how they perceive the world in order to reach them. That requires research, and research is what makes the difference between a professional and a novice. One thing that I really impress upon people is to be able create and complete SMART goals.
Any final words of wisdom for marketing entrepreneurs?
Get out there and mingle with other marketers. Networking is such a powerful tool. As marketers, we don’t always have to be in competition. There is a lot we can learn from one another.