By Chuck Green Chuck Green is a business writer based in the Atlanta area.
Generating leads for other businesses nets entrepreneur $19 million a year.
Her father was an entrepreneur and business owner, but Joy Gendusa never figured she’d follow in his footsteps—as in ever!
“I went to art school and didn’t know what I was going to do. When I was young, I did weird jobs until I figured out how I was going to make a decent living. An entrepreneur would say they could never work for anyone else, but I’m a really good employee,” said Gendusa, who, among other things, waited tables, sold vacation packages over the phone and did word processing. “I wouldn’t even take a real job because I was such a free spirit.”
It’s not that she didn’t want to be an entrepreneur; it’s just that she didn’t know she wanted to be one, noted Gendusa, founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a marketing agency specializing in lead generation for small- to large-sized businesses.
In fact, she said that starting her own business essentially was bred out of necessity. Gendusa was working for a printer, doing typesetting on a PC, when she started performing from home on a freelance basis when she had her second child. Eventually, she took on more freelance work.
After a few years, Gendusa said she hardly was home once her enterprise was run outside her house. Consequently, she scarcely saw her children. “I was trying to figure out a niche—how I could change my company so that I could turn hats over to people. I didn’t have to be all things to all people. I had a little bit of a staff, but I was the art director, main sales person and the main accounting person. I was still freelancing, doing a little agency work by the time I had a few staff members.” And she got increasingly busy. “It kind of evolved where I was working so much and wanted to figure out how I could work less hours.”
Her aha moment finally arrived when she ordered some post cards for her own business. The company that provided them only sold them to the trades, such as graphic artists and ad agencies, she said. “I got bad service, bad product, and was unimpressed. I thought I could have a post card company.” Still, Gendusa said she never expected it to grow to the size that it’s grown to—just under $19 million last year.
She also hadn’t realized she had an innate ability to manage, lead and grow a business. “It sort of just came to me.”
Gendusa felt she had to continuously market and promote whatever she was doing if she wanted to have a business. “I started out using post cards to promote post cards. I did 1,000 pieces every week. I market so much more than your average small business owner and I’ve never taken any capital from anyone or had any investors. I think it kind of grew organically.” She likes the marketing process. “I find it interesting, and I kept educating myself. I was very persistent. I don’t give up. I liked finding the formula that worked for us. I think it’s just continuously marketing and figuring out how much I needed to sell. It was a quantity game for me.” She saw the only way she personally was going to make money was if she hit certain targets, said Gendusa, who noted she only paid herself a small salary at first.
She said her strategy is far from instinctual. “It was really survival. I was sort of motivated by my responsibility as a parent. I worried my whole life that I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids. But I learned it’s the example you set. I tell that to mom entrepreneurs all the time.”
However, she doesn’t figure she’ll be setting many examples on the technology side of the business, which is not exactly her strength, said Gendusa. “I have to trust people. Maybe I should have done it differently where I went to a larger firm to build our system. I love the guy who’s doing it, but he’s a one-man band. I feel like there’s more we could do, expansion and technology wise, if I wasn’t organic and had money.”
Yet, she said she didn’t start the company to make a lot of it. “I started it so I could enjoy where I worked and plan my own game. Money was a good byproduct of creating that,” which is why she said she’s leery of bringing in partners. “It’s a fear thing. I don’t want to give up control to anyone. I don’t want to be beholden to anyone.”
Nor does she want to do anything that might diminish her ability to make fast decisions, which she thrives on. There’s no room for consensus on her watch. “I notice when there are partnerships, committees or boards, things move really slowly. As long as I’m doing what I doing, I enjoy the freedom of making a decision on a dime. I’m loath to give that up.”
At the same time, she’s adept at delegating. “I don’t think I could have grown if I wasn’t good at that. I’m basically lazy and not particularly organized, so I surround myself with really organized people. I’m tidy enough, but I’ll lose my head if it’s not attached. I have very organized, detail-oriented people surround me so I don’t necessarily have to be that way.”
And she likes the way successful people tend to attract others like them, she noted. “After I became successful, I started meeting successful people I could turn to and say ‘what about this’ and ‘what do you think of this?’ I’m with the rich boys now,” she laughed.
HISPANIC POPULATION HITS 50.4 MILLION
Final population figures from the Census Bureau show that the number of Hispanics in the nation has reached 50 million, or one out of six people of the nation’s population. The final census count shows a Hispanic population of 50.4 million. Make sure you are incorporating this important market into your sales strategies. If you live in community with a significant Hispanic population, make sure your restaurant, your bookstore, your business center, etc. is addressing the needs of the community.