Trade Secrets of a Tech-Savvy Entrepreneur
A word to the wise: If you ever take a meeting with Tiffanie Stanard, make sure you’re fully caffeinated. The marketing and branding strategist and CEO of Prestige Concepts in Philadelphia talks fast, thinks faster—and does what most people consider a full morning’s slate (i.e., sends emails to current, past and prospective clients, updates her to-do list, prepares for meetings and exercises) before she has even arrived at her office.
Like most entrepreneurs, Stanard is a human whirlwind of action and passion. The key to her success is that she’s strategic about how she spends all that energy. Here, three “extracurricular” activities that have helped her grow her business.
What she does: Stanard volunteers as a business and technology mentor in the local school district and in community organizations; she keeps the relationships going with about 10 young men and women.
Why she does it: “I know what it’s like to wish you had someone to advise you—I loved tech as a child but there was no one around to guide me, so I had to teach myself. I mentor because I love helping students achieve their potential. But it also helps with business: being in touch with Millennials enhances my creativity and keeps me up to date with the future of technology.”
Her advice: “I stay in regular contact with texts—it’s how Millennials prefer to communicate and it can be more efficient than talking on the phone. But I also make sure to have face time at least twice a month.”
Serving on boards
What she does: “I’m on the boards of two nonprofits and one tech community program.”
Why she does it: “Being on a board takes up a lot of time and effort, so I’ve learned to be selective. I’ve increased my skills in accounting, fundraising, public relations—you name it. And I’ve made connections with other board members, who’ve hired me, sent business my way or advised me on things like hiring a lawyer. All while I’m helping the organizations achieve their goals.”
Her advice: “While joining a board can be beneficial, remember it is a time commitment. Also, if you’re hoping to approach board members for a potential referral or use the organization’s resources—like their contact list—just lay it out and be upfront from the beginning. It’s awkward if intentions are not presented in the beginning of the working relationship.”
Being a brand ambassador
What she does: Stanard does speaking engagements and social media for Microsoft and recently became a brand ambassador for Diamonds Unleashed.
Why she does it: “Personal brand matters, and being associated with a tech giant is great for my business. I also increase my following every time a company and I cross-promote on social media. Starting out, you will have the opportunity to try great products and enjoy travel for speaking engagements, and once the relationship has been established, monetary compensation may be an option.”
Her advice: “To begin, approach companies with products you actually use and offer to be a brand ambassador. You’ll need to be active on social media and be able to show proof of your influence and relationships. But the most important thing is that your overall message needs to mesh with theirs and vice versa.”