Mandy Edwards is the owner of ME Marketing Services, a social media marketing company that provides consulting, management and coaching to businesses in the United States and Canada. A graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business, Mandy has 12+ years of sales & marketing experience. Past work experience has included print advertising and local store marketing for Chick-fil-A and Bruster's Ice Cream. Mandy is a founding board member of the online social media organization, the Social Solutions Collective. Locally, she is involved in Relay for Life, the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce, the Statesboro Chapter of the University of Georgia Alumni Association serving as President and First Baptist Church. Mandy is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Bulloch and was named to the Statesboro Herald's Top 20 Under 40 for 2013. She has also been mentioned in Crain's Chicago Business and Forbes. Mandy is married to prosecuting attorney Ben Edwards and is the proud mother of two redheaded daughters.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've always had the personality of someone who wants to lead. Seeking leadership positions in high school, college and now as a professional have all contributed to that. I do not think there is any one or two or three life experiences that I can pinpoint that's led to being a leader. I think being a leader comes from having a drive to succeed, working hard and earning people's trust and respect along the way. Experience plays into it as well. Most leaders have that time and experience under their belt to better equip them to be the leader they are today.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the Founder of ME Marketing Services?
Working in the sales and marketing industry since college graduation, I feel like I worked my way up the ladder to owning my own company. In my previous experience, I've done everything from event planning to sales to writing marketing plans to working with emerging social media and everything else in between. I feel that you have to have that experience if you are going to own a company that provides all of that. You have you walk the talk and there's no better way to do it than through your experiences in the industry.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work from home, so it's been tough balancing work and life. Some weeks I'm mom more than a business owner and then there are weeks I'm more of a business owner than a mom. What I have learned is that you just have to unplug, shut the door and walk away sometimes. My office is in my home, so it's nice to literally shut the door and not come back until the next morning. Each person has to figure their own balance for themselves. For me, it's work from the time my daughters go to school until they are done with their homework and it's dinnertime. I will check in on some things on my tablet in the evening, but I try not to spend too much time doing that. If you have people who work with you or if you have interns helping out, it's okay to assign work to them so you can be more relaxed and less stressed with your job. My two interns have been a lifesaver - my daughters love them because I'm not working until 11pm at night anymore!
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure as a business owner?
One challenge I still have trouble with is valuing myself and my time. Most business owners won't admit that they struggle with that, but I do. In the social media industry, what people charge for their services are all over the board. Looking at what my local market can demand and how I value my time has really helped. One of my highlights was being mentioned in an article on Forbes.com this past fall. It's an honor to mentioned in that publication - either online or in print. I work hard at what I do and do it honestly and transparently. Being able to continually do that is a daily highlight.
What advice can you offer those seeking to establish their own business?
Have a plan. Opening and owning your own business is not for the faint of heart. You need to know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, how you will get customers/clients and what your goal is, both financially and personally. Once you do decide, find those who are influencers in that industry and learn from them - learn both their failures and successes. A bonus is if you can find a business coach or mentor to help you along the way. Having the support of someone who's walked the same road is worth it. The wisdom you'll get from them is priceless.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the biggest issue is that we are not seen as equal, respectable businesspeople. In some industries, there isn't an issue, but for a majority of them, they are still male-dominated and women in position of leadership (or ownership) are not viewed well. I work in a female-dominated industry, so there's no glass ceiling for us. Women in leadership positions deserve to be respected for the work they've done and where they have gotten themselves.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Yes, definitely. Professionally, following industry leaders and learning from them have really helped me get to where I am. In my industry you have to continually educate yourself and with their help, I'm able to stay up on the latest changes and news in the social media field. As for mentorship in my personal life, I am a Christian and I rely heavily on my faith and prayer to help me with my decisions and the direction of where I need to go professionally and how to handle things life throws at you.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I think the world of Tory Burch and Sara Blakely. There are two strong women who built their own companies and survived bumps along the way. The way their run their businesses and what they offer earns them a lot of respect in my eyes.
What are your hopes for the future of ME Marketing Services?
My hope would be that my company would continue to grow and be successful and be able to give back to help out others, whether it's new business owners seeking advice or college students getting ready to graduate.