I had one of those moments while sitting on the roof of my grandparent’s farmhouse in Germany a little over five years ago. Little did I know how that one night would change everything. It’s how Sprout was born.
Early this year on a late night flight to Colombia, I started to write, like I often do. This time, my writing took me on a road down memory lane. It wasn’t until I put everything on paper that I realized how personal starting my own business really was. So often people ask me what it’s like to start a business. So for those of you who are interested, I’m sharing something incredibly personal here (Please excuse the writing style. It really is a clip from my personal journal).
A personal sneak peek at how the idea of Sprout Marketing was started. Read a snippet from the journal of our CEO, Barbara Savona:
January 27, 2015 reflecting…
life has been, for lack of a better word, intense. the word intense just fits because intense is what i feel in the pit of my stomach. intense keeps my heart pumping. intense keeps my brain spinning. maybe someone else would use another word. but for me, i always feel life intensely. and the truth is, i wouldn’t want it any other way.
it’s been a while since i put my thoughts into words, but as I sit on this plane, it feels right to reminisce. i started sprout on an impulse. one day i felt like that is what i needed to do. and i did. it was after we went to germany with the entire family. so much had happened. the trip was almost a culmination. it was strange to be there, the six of us (mom, dad, marci, tony, russell and me). so familiar, but not the same. we were in close quarters, all sharing the apartment. tragedies had recently struck our family and those we loved. so there we were, surrounded by beauty and yet trapped with so many emotions. but without fail, every morning we’d awake to the crisp german air in the same house that i first visited over twenty-five years before. something felt comfortable. it felt good.
when we came back home, we were in the middle of a terrible texas drought. everything was brown. everything was dead. and then something snapped. i had been surrounded by immense beauty for three weeks and a small part of me was refusing my old life. i loved texas, i loved russell, but something didn’t feel like what i wanted for myself. and then one of my most favorite qualities kicked in. when it knocked on my door i recognized it. it had become familiar to me. in fact, when i felt it coming on, i was excited because i knew something was about to change. so what was it? i can only describe it as impulse mixed with fierce decidedness and easily identified with it’s terrifying velocity. i wish i knew a word that really could bring that quality to life. it’s so distinct and unique to me.and just like that, i put my notice in at my cushy job in the middle of a serious recession that had the entire nation in a paralyzed panic. on my way out the door i left my consistent paycheck, my two weeks of paid vacation, and the distant memory of my president’s club win that had meant so much to me just seven months before.
what happened next was not pretty. i fumbled. i fell. i grasped at straws. i looked for anchors. for crutches. for anything that would give me a feeling of stability. and then after a lot of running, things just started to take a turn. i was pacing up and down the sidewalk talking to lauren on rollingfield drive. she was venting about being undervalued where she was at. i was venting about being stretched thin and not being able to do anything well. we went back to our familiar joke. “wow. combined we’d make the perfect person,” we laughed. and then it was like, “wow. combined we’d make the perfect person.” why don’t we combine and make the perfect person. you feel under appreciated. i feel overworked. we both are unsatisfied. what i’m lacking you have.
there were the nay sayers, the well wishers, and well meaning. we were warned. horror stories were shared. it will never work. you won’t stay friends. it can’t be done. we faltered. we wavered. we doubted ourselves.we went back and forth. should we. shouldn’t we. were we willing to put a second mortgage on a friendship that was over 15 years strong and risk losing it all. we did. it felt right. they say the only reliable predictor of the future is the past. so we trusted our history. and so there we went. we took the plunge. we made a new kind of commitment to each other.
and then, we worked our butts off. we set unrealistic deadlines. we met them. we went way outside our comfort zone. we were exhausted, but so bursting with excitement for what we were creating. and then we doubted and feared. but hell we didn’t stop. we were pitching our program to people and they were buying. our first client validated our business. the first multiplied and it was time to turn the page on our little business.
and so we grew. so the adventure began. and it’s continued. not a perfect person or company by any means, but perfectly fine from where i sit.