Connect with Heidi on Twitter @hlorenzen
Why and when did you start your own business?
I was a marketing executive for 25 years – based all over the globe – with companies like Interwoven, Polycom and Autonomy. Early in my career, I was in the strategic marketing group at Business Week magazine. Through these various roles, I experienced first-hand how dramatically the marketing function had changed over the years – especially in the last few years, and how much marketers were struggling to adjust.
So this past April, I decided to start my own business to help marketing leaders and teams be more effective in this fast-moving, open, social world we call our business environment. I already have clients and projects underway. It’s going really well!
What is The Moksha Group?
The company was formed to accelerate change for those in this newly-changed marketing function. We consult, coach and mentor marketers – helping them be more effective, and stay sane, in our always-on world!
We offer a “CMO on-demand” service for companies not quite ready for a full-time executive partner. We help them establish the foundation, plans and activities to set them on the right path to success and expansion.
We also offer coaching and mentoring services, which includes training programs for established marketers and their teams to help them achieve higher levels of performance and adapt to new approaches.
Moksha (pronounced MOKE-shah) is a Sanskrit term that means to liberate, release or free. The term represented my own liberation from the corporate world, but more importantly moksha represents the new ideal state marketers need to reach – one that relinquishes command-and-control approaches in exchange for more open, adaptive and highly-engaged strategies and structures. It favors agility over process, goals over function, and the really hard one today, focus over frenzy.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs starting businesses?
My advice is that while you dream big and have fun imagining how your unique talents can improve the world, you need to stay grounded in the reality of your markets, business environment and personal capacity. It’s easy to get lost in the cloud of ideation, so take time to create a “compass” that you can always refer back to, to ensure you are staying on track. My compass is my business plan. If you start with a good business plan, you can start from a solid place and will be more confident.
I also have to remind myself – and would encourage others to do the same – that perfection is the enemy of effective. Just get to the point where your product or web copy or marketing campaign or whatever is good enough, then put it out into the world to see the results and get feedback. You use that information to keep iterating and get better. This is also advice I need to tell my clients often because marketers have traditionally been trained to get things perfectly developed and tested, and tied up with a pretty bow. But the world is moving too quickly to do this today. They will miss opportunities if they don’t have a bias for action.
You mentioned your business plan was like a compass for you. Can you expand a little?
LivePlan got me on the right trajectory right off the bat. It gave me a repository for all my thinking on the various elements of my business – from how to position it, to how I’d market it, to my sources of revenue, to the resources I’d need to get everything done.
LivePlan was so easy to use, so well organized, and prompted such interesting thinking, I found myself not wanting to stop! It was actually fun! It’s now become a “compass” for me, meaning that it reminds me of my business’s True North and ensures I’m going in the right direction as my business gets more complex. It also reminds me of great ideas I had that I still need to execute on, and I especially enjoy looking back at it to see all I’ve accomplished. I really appreciate that LivePlan keeps the data, so I can come back anytime and pick up where I left off.
It sounds like you really enjoy what you do. Do you have others working for you?
Not right now. I use eLance and oDesk whenever I need to source help and that has worked very well. I’m a very globally-minded person, so I love finding the best talent for a given task in far-flung parts of the world. While I’ve taken the route of doing it all on my own right now, I know that I have my LivePlan to help me secure investment capital if and when the time is right.
You have a lot of background in your field, but what has been your biggest barrier to date?
Well, it’s like this: My audience – marketing leaders – know they are feeling pain because results aren’t where they should be, and their teams are going a bit crazy trying to keep up. But they think the solution to the pain is to just keep getting better at all the shiny new marketing tactics, rather than rethinking how they are organized, how they operate, how they set goals and other strategic considerations. My challenge is to help them see that they are addressing the symptom and not the disease.
And what about your biggest success to date?
Having the first paying client was huge for me! There’s nothing like the first ‘yes.’ I also have launched a global crowdsourcing initiative among marketing leaders around the world to share ideas on how to better operate in this new world of marketing. I call it “Marketing: THE REMIX” and I’m leveraging a free crowdsourcing tool called ICON to capture ideas and highlight the best ones back to the crowd.
Have you always been this entrepreneurial?
Even back in grammar school days, I was always the leader and the take-charge gal, so from that standpoint, I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit. But it wasn’t until I spent time in Taiwan as an undergrad, which was a mecca of entrepreneurship at the time, that I saw the power that an individual can have in creating value for others through their own businesses. It inspired me to another world of doing business, besides just the big companies I had been exposed to. When I went back to Taiwan after graduating from college to work at a large local publishing and PR company, I couldn’t help myself but eventually leave to go into business with a friend of mine exporting high-end women’s knitwear. From then on, I loved every element of being independent, and am very excited to be in that place again today!
“LivePlan set me off on the right trajectory at the earliest, most critical stages of conceptualizing and launching my business. It helped me think through my business holistically – prompting me to develop plans for vital areas I might have otherwise shied away from. The experience of using LivePlan was actually inspirational, as it kept me laser-focused on my company’s potential. I had so much fun creating the future, it was hard to walk away from my plan! With my initial plan complete, I now have a “compass” to constantly refer back to to keep me on track for growth and remind me of great ideas I intend to pursue. LivePlan also helps me monitor what I’ve accomplished – and that’s always motivating.”
— Heidi Lorenzen, CEO/founder of The Moksha Group