JB Media | Asheville, NC
Q: Describe your business:
We are a full service Internet marketing agency including SEO, online advertising, social media, public relations, and strategy. We have also started what we call the “JB Media Institute” which is a six-week school with specialized training so companies can understand and manage their own Internet marketing. We are somewhat unique in combining both professional services with training, at least in this area, but this way we can give clients completely customized Internet marketing support.
Q: What’s your story?
I had been working in the web development world and Internet marketing for 10 years and had built up a small freelance base. I realized I either needed to take a job doing this full time or start an agency and in Fall 2010, I began working on a business plan. By the next April, I had signed a lease at Mojo Coworking and launched JB Media Group. I was on full time and brought on three part time staff.
Q: How did you learn about the SBTDC?
We had been crossing paths for some time and in Spring 2013, we were invited to meet with the SBTDC Asheville staff to tell them about what we offer, specifically about the Institute. I also learned more about SBTDC. At the time I was looking for financing options to buy office space and started working with Adrianne Gordon.
Q: Has the SBTDC made a difference?
I make an effort to surround myself with mentors and advisors and whenever I have a problem, I ask them all to get multiple opinions. Business coaches have limited time available, though, and so I sometimes get the easy answer. With the SBTDC, the answer is quick, ultimately the shortcut to the answer I need. Instead of making multiple calls and asking a lot of people, I only have to call the SBTDC and they give me critical feedback.
Not only did Adrianne help me receive the necessary financing for the new space, but she also helped me look at the business from a new perspective. As I look at where I’m spending my time vs. where I should be spending my time, I am better able to make adjustments. With the addition of so many new staff members, there have been new operational needs that I have been able to address with SBTDC resources.
Q: How much growth have you seen since working with the SBTDC?
Probably the biggest impact on the business I’ve seen as a result of working with the SBTDC is the funding for the new office. With the help of my counselor I was able to borrow $201,000 and open up $35,000 in new credit lines. The new space is a much better fit and will allow for future growth. Each year, our sales revenues have been up 80-100%. We’ve been able to hire 3 more people to bring us up to 7 full time and 4 part time, and we plan on adding 2 additional positions this year.
Q: Do you have any advice?
Put together a good support system. On one side of the scale is the break down zone. Here you are trying to do everything yourself. On the other side of the scale is the comfort zone where you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. In the middle is the courage zone. I believe that the more helpful people that a business owner has in their support system, including employees, advisors, vendors and mentors, the larger the courage zone will become by combining the resources of others and pushing yourself at the same time. I have learned about this concept from one of my mentors, Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting.
Know when to ask for advice. Every business decision has been made before. Learn from others’ mistakes as well as their successes.
UPDATE: JB Media’s Justin Belleme was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Venture Asheville. Read More >
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2013-2014 Annual Report.
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The location of each site has been very strategic. Before we open any office, we call Johnnie at the SBTDC and he gives me demographic information about the community. We really take advantage of his expertise, which allows us to pinpoint areas that best fit our business model. Today we have 17 offices from the coast to the mountains and currently serve more than 100,000 kids each year from 64 counties in NC. We have 152 employees and will add at least 25 or 30 this year.
The SBTDC have been incredibly helpful in supporting our decision making process, in determining how we can optimize our procedures economically. They have reviewed our marketing, our accounting systems, recommended new approaches and highlighted areas for development.
We increased our revenues by over 550% in four months, we have tripled the number of direct labor employees and added three new engineers to our staff.