AimFire Marketing Job hopping led marketer to become her own boss AimFire's specialty: Optimizing Internet search engine results
Little more than three years ago, Susan Young's custom Brownsburg home had two extra bedrooms, and the daily commute to Synergy Marketing Group in Indianapolis kept her home and office in separate worlds.
Today, Young has two new babies: her 7-month-old daughter, Elaina, and her young business, AimFire Marketing.
One of those once-empty rooms is now the heart of her six-figure career. With her two monitors side by side (one baby, one computer), Young acts as the marketing arm for small businesses that can't afford inhouse advertising expertise.
She worked for several tech companies that were acquired and reorganized, and the frequent job hopping inspired Young to change careers. It also taught her the entrepreneurial ropes.
"I never thought owning a business was for me, until I realized the flexibility of being my own boss," said Young, 31.
To market her first client-herself-she sent out news releases and attended networking events, which helped her find her second at a Venture Club lunch during her first month in business in August 2005.
"I was impressed with the press releases we received from [Young] while she was at Synergy. She had a knack for communicating tech-related subjects," said Jack Wilson, president of local software and Web site development company solutions4ebiz. "When I met her in person and found out she'd started her own firm, I was excited to work with her."
Since hiring AimFire in 2005, solutions4ebiz has experienced annual sales growth of 15 percent to 25 percent; sales of one of the products Young helps promote have increased 50 percent.
"I attribute some of that growth to Susan's help in terms of getting exposure, more Internet leads, and more presence on search engines," Wilson said.
One of Young's specialties is so-called search-engine optimization, a process she uses to get her clients and their products noticed by various search engines so they show up high on lists of query results. Aim-Fire's own Web site is among the first 20 that pop up in a Google search for "search engine optimization Indiana," for example.
Young had accessibility in mind when she was brainstorming a business name, choosing one that began with an "A" because it's more likely to be at the top of phone book listings. But topping the Google list is what really matters.
That's how Dr. Kenneth Schwarz found out about AimFire. The co-founder of a Connecticut weight-loss assistance company, Maria's Last Diet was looking for a consultant who could offer marketing advice from a female perspective. Young fit the bill.
"She picks up the phone and you can talk to her," Schwarz said. "She might as well be right around the corner."
With Young's help, Maria's Last Diet comes up 11th of 607,000 results in a Google search for "dieting support."
With a workload of up to six clients at a time, Young said her biggest struggle is learning when to say no.
"Since I work at home, it's easy to go upstairs and work through the night, so making sure I don't overwhelm myself is key," she said.
She's especially busy in the fall, when companies are looking to spend the remainder of the advertising budget, and in January, when ad departments are feeling rich.
But Young said her growing client base doesn't necessarily mean she wants to expand the company just yet.
"It's tough trying to envision what I want to do at this point since I'm really enjoying my level of work and being an at-home mom," she said.
For anyone considering a career in marketing, Young recommends giving independent consulting a try since it's the type of business with low startup costs.
"It's worth stepping out of your comfort zone to be your own boss and be close to your family," she said.