Small Business Story – Studio Pinpoint

  1. First and last name

    Romana Mirza

  2. Company name

    Studio Pinpoint™

    We know who you are…and we can help you tell the world™

  3. Website address

  4. Please describe exactly what your business does and your target market (ideal customer)

    We build brand confidence… by understanding who you are and making sure your brand reflects your organization. Too often organizations become what they think their clients or target audiences want, without giving a thought to their own culture. Those brand strategies fail because they are not an authentic reflection of the company. Money is wasted, opportunities lost. The Studio Pinpoint brand strategy is built from within it builds a brand confidence that is rooted deeply in the organization and reflected in its success in the marketplace.

  5. What makes your business different? What is that you do that makes your business unique

    Many brand consulting agencies, even the biggest ones in the world create brands that the consumer will find sexy or appealing. These agencies will even go so far as to dismiss the term brand for terms like “lovemarks”. What these agencies don’t do is consider the culture of the company that it is creating a brand for. If your brand is developed as something that is worldly, exciting and fun – but your culture is really not that, then how authentic is that? Your target audience will feel the disconnect and you’ve lost your trust. At Studio Pinpoint we make sure that what we pinpoint as your unique brand identity is both a true and authentic reflection of your company and is appealing to your target audience. Your audience may love worldly, exciting and fun but if what you are is meaningful, approachable and skilled and that’s what you talk to they will love that even more – it’s authentic and it’s honest. It’s the best of what you are.

  6. Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get into your particular business? (i.e., saw a market need, discovered my passion, found a partner, etc.)

    In my last job as an employee, I headed up the brand revitalization effort for a $100-million dollar, 100-year old company. I was able to hand pick my team and take this team through an 8-month effort to understand the company and its unique place in the marketplace. After decades of talking about quality and craftsmanship, this company finally had a brand positioning that was unique in the industry and an authentic reflection of the core competency of the company: performance.

    After this experience I realized that my 20-year career on the “client side” in marketing had given me a broad base of experience and understanding of business and its challenges. I also found that this work on the brand really brought out the best in me and used my greatest strengths. I left that corporate job and ventured out to create Studio Pinpoint. I knew that having my own firm would give me the opportunity to do the work that I was the most skilled at all the time.

  7. What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?

    Flexibility. When I was an employee I used to think that clients ruled the world of the entrepreneur. I was pleasantly pleased to find out that’s not true. You have the ultimate in flexibility in any area of your life from the number of hours you work to the type of work you take on – and how much time you spend with family, traveling, and so on.

  8. What’s the worst part of being and entrepreneur?

    Silence. The silence of no responses to direct mail campaigns. The silence after personalized emails are sent to old friends and colleagues. The silence of not knowing if anyone is reading your marketing materials. The silence of thank you cards that go out there with no recognition of receipt. The silence after an invoice goes out. That’s probably the worst silence, the 30-40 day silence until you get the cheque! Fear not. The silence is deceiving. I am learning every day that I do this. People are reading and responding, and paying! You just can’t hear it all the time, you have to get used to it.

  9. How long have you been in business?

    I decided to become an entrepreneur in April 2007. I worked on my business plan through the summer and launched my business to coincide with an important industry event in September 2007.

  10. How did you raise the start-up cash?

    Family. I am very fortunate to have extremely supportive and stable family. They have helped very step along the way. I feel like I may get to a point soon where I’ll need to raise some cash outside of what my family can provide me. I hope that revisiting my business plan this summer will give me some insights into how I can do that.

  11. Identify and discuss a few lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
    1. Know that they are listening. Even though it may feel like people are not receiving your emails or reading your blog or engaging in the networking you are doing – know this…they are. You just don’t know it.
    2. It does come. It may seem scary at first – getting your first invoice out there, waiting for the first cheque. Then you hit a milestone where if you trust it, it will come. If you keep working at it, “pushing at the flywheel” as Collins says in Good to Great, it will start to come back to you, be consistent, it does come.
    3. Be scared but don’t let it paralyze you. I have been bold. Just sending the aggressive sales pitch when I knew that I had nothing to lose. I’m getting better at it now and I don’t think they are aggressive, they are bold. I haven’t got a job yet by being bold but I will, I know it’ll come.
    4. Get an IT guy! My first helper was an IT firm that charges $75/hour for IT support over the phone. Big companies hire them. I hired them. It was the best decision I could have made. They know I’m small and they help me out a lot and have saved me too. My computer crashed and I didn’t lose a thing, not one bit of data. I was backed up and organized and up and running again in 4 hours.
    5. Learn accounting software! I was overwhelmed with keeping track of all my expenses. I downloaded a $99 version of QuickBooks called QuickStart. I spent 2 hours in my accountant’s office getting a tutorial on how to use it. I spend 2 hours at the end of every month doing my book keeping. Tax time was a breeze, I took advantage of every expense and write off, I couldn’t be happier. It was worth the investment and time!
  12. What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

    Know your style of doing work. Early on I read Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, you get a code with each book to do an online assessment of your strengths. I used this to build the business on my strengths and hired help where I needed help the most.

    Read and learn. Go to as many seminars as you can, learn from experiences and find the books that motivate you and read them. Some of my favourites are Good to Great, Free Agent Nation, A Whole New Mind and The E-Myth.

  13. Briefly, what are your goals and plans for the future?

    In the short term, this summer, I want to revisit my business plan make sure my ideal target client is accurate. I’ve done some work now and I want to take the learnings from those experiences with real clients and rework my business plan to make sure I am taking full advantage of my greatest strengths and uniqueness. I will also be working with a strategic communications consultant to help me find the best way to communicate my work to the outside world. In essence I do this for my clients but getting objective about the best of what you do is hard – I’m looking forward to working with a skilled professional on this.

    Further down the road. I hope to hand over Studio Pinpoint’s brand consulting practice in Toronto to a senior brand strategist in the next 2-3 years. This will be a person who is savvy and very good at what they do. They will own the Studio Pinpoint office in Toronto and be responsible for P&L and the team. At that time I will move to San Francisco or LA to start the Studio Pinpoint office in that location. After that I’ll go to NYC. That’s the plan – three offices.

    Studio Pinpoint will be the “go to” consultancy for companies that are struggling with their positioning in the marketplace or with employee satisfaction of any kind. In 20 years, I’ll be selling the brand to the highest bidder!

  14. Any other information or advice you’d like to share?

    Begin with the end in mind. I got on track with my future after reading The E-Myth; it was my guide to developing a dream for me and my company.

    Build a brand. Know how you are different. Don’t get caught up in your competitor’s language of quality, lowest price, innovation, luxury or whatever, there is something unique about what you are doing, find it and make it a core characteristic of your brand.


One response to “Small Business Story – Studio Pinpoint

  1. Really inspiring, Romana. I love the whole concept of branding from the inside out. It’s really powerful to see how that works in branding and in building your business.Thanks for sharing your story and some key pointers for us all!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s