Often, entrepreneurs get started on their path when they realize the opportunities in a particular market. Similarly, an established entrepreneur, Candice Simons, the President and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor, recognized the gap in the out-of-home industry and started her outdoor advertising company in her home state, Michigan. In an interview with Insights Success, Candice reveals her entrepreneurial journey and her ways of mentoring her team in order to expand the company’s capabilities. Considering her urge to run a business and her novel approach of leading the company, Insights Success recognized Candice as one of the most Innovative CEOs of 2018.
Below are the highlights from the interview conducted between Candice and Insights Success:
Give us a brief overview of your background and your role in Brooklyn Outdoor.
I moved to Chicago in 2013 when I transferred from Michigan State University to DePaul University to finish my bachelor’s in Marketing and Sales. I stayed in Chicago for about 10 years before my heart pulled me back to Detroit. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience while working in OOH industry in Chicago. This gave me the ability to recognize the gap in OOH industry that was the perfect fit for an independent agency such as Brooklyn Outdoor. That is what sparked by decision to take a leap of faith to start my own company – making Detroit once again my home, and the home of Brooklyn Outdoor.
How do you diversify your solutions that appeal to your target audience?
Each client has a unique brand and client profile. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure each client has an ad campaign that is as individually unique. When clients approach Brooklyn Outdoor to create a campaign, they know they are not working with a traditional advertising company. And, if they don’t, they soon find out. We’re all about creating opportunities where they didn’t exist before. This means looking through a lens that provides a new view on marketing by enlisting local artists to collaborate with national companies.
Describe some of the vital attributes that every CEO should possess.
It’s important for CEO’s to act as influencers, not as managers. CEO’s should act as motivators and modelers, so their employees act in the best interest of their company when they are not around. Leaders should be considerate, trusting and inspiring. It’s vital to not only set goals for employees, but to show the path to achievement.
Most importantly, CEO’s should always maintain a student mentality. Always seek ways to become a better leader – read, listen to podcasts, and attend workshops. They should be the good in the company they want to see reflected through their employees.
What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped your journey?
One experience that has helped shape my journey is being a mentor. I knew mentorship would come with teaching others, but I didn’t know how much it would teach me in return.
There are situations while mentoring when I need to give confidence boosts and words of encouragement. I find it a lot easier to tell others to remove doubts about themselves than it is to with yourself. This is a reminder to be a little kinder when it comes to self-compassion and confidence. The achievement that has helped shape my journey is the point where our staff went from four to twelve. It has been a challenge and an achievement beyond my wildest dreams.
As much as you try to make the right decisions in business – mistakes are inevitable. One lesson I learned is integrity is key. Instead of looking at mistakes as failures, look at them as learning opportunities. Own up when you mess up and remain forthright. Not every business relation can be saved when these situations happen, but if you remain genuine it speaks volumes about your character.
What were some of the primal challenges and roadblocks that you faced during the initial phase of your journey?
Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of tenacity and determination. With this comes a “do it myself,” type of mentality. Realizing you can’t do it all yourself presents a challenge when you have to learn to let go of control and put trust in someone else.
A roadblock is also presented when your business opportunities are expanding, but you don’t have the financial capital to perform at 100 percent. There is a huge lesson in self-sacrifice for the greater good of your business overall and to be always willing to put your employees and clients first with yourself last.
Where does Brooklyn Outdoor see itself in the near future and how will you catalyze the change?
In the near future I see Brooklyn Outdoor expanding into new locations from coast-to-coast. I foresee our growth allowing for the creation of new roles within the company and the on boarding of new employees. This will allow us to expand our capabilities in OOH advertising and put more investment into events and media.
All of which will be made possible through continuously working to establish and build upon strong client and vendor relations. This will also be the catalyst at which we are able to increase brand awareness and credibility.
What is your advice for the emerging entrepreneurs?
My advice to young entrepreneurs is to find a group of likeminded people to surround yourself with. Having a network of people who are experiencing similar challenges and triumphs reminds you that you’re not alone. It will provide you with a sense of connectedness and a resource for advice and inspiration.