Small Business Week 2018 with Lynn Fulks

In celebration of National Small Business Week (April 29th – May 5th) we sat down with five members from Hera Hub locations across the world to hear about their story, passions, impact, and businesses.

The third member to be featured in our interview series is Lynn Fulks. She is the COO & Chief Marketing Officer with Upstart Group. Upstart provides fractional Chief Marketing Officers, Marketing Managers and Coordinators for companies in growth mode. Lynn works with clients to understand their long-term strategic objectives as well as short-term annual business and sales goals and develop marketing strategies to meet those goals. 

She has been a member of Hera Hub Carlsbad for four years. 

What was the inspiration behind your business?

We launched Upstart Group with the intent of supporting startup companies through bringing our enterprise marketing know-how to build their marketing from ground zero to launching products and beyond. While we’ve had the honor of working with some amazing startup founders, we realized that there was a gap between an early-stage startup’s ability to fund the expertise they needed and our need to be paid for our work. This required a pivot in focus for our company. (As a side note, we do love our startup companies and continue to support startups via education, training, and consulting support when the opportunity arises.)

After this pivot, we quickly gained traction with established companies in the small to mid-market space—as there’s a solid value proposition for the fractional executive model for those companies. However, now our challenge was to take the enterprise level experience we’d gained through managing multimillion dollar business units and programs at Microsoft – and translate that into actionable strategies for smaller companies. They deserve the same marketing expertise as the big enterprise companies! As with most entrepreneurs, we adapted, improved, and learned and did our best to provide great service to our client CEOs and business owners.

Who are your clients and what do you do for them?

Our clients range in size from startups to $200M companies, although we could support larger clients with our enterprise experience. We are industry agnostic, and clients have ranged from software and hardware solutions, hazardous waste management, manufacturing and distribution, healthcare, and professional and financial services, to name a few. Our priority is to focus on growth and revenue generation, focusing on the client’s most important things in the annual and strategic business plans.

We build plans, update positioning and messaging to more effectively engage the target audience, build out the marketing foundation (brand, content, website, tools), and launch campaigns and tactics to help drive revenue and support the sales teams.

One unique feature we offer is that our CMOs fully participate as a member of the C-Suite for companies. Effective marketing touches every department in the company and vice versa. So, not only do we bring the right level of marketing expertise to the C-Suite, we also bring a board member mentality to the table and really look across the entire company. One of the benefits our CMOs bring to the table is that they’re in so many different companies. We see so many different best practices and bring all those years of experience of best practice ideas to every company we work with, whether from a CMO perspective or a Marketing Manager.

Lynn Fulks - Upstart Group

What are your business’ values? How do they align with your personal values?

My co-founder, Sue Sanford, and I worked with a senior advisor and brand strategist to develop our company values based on our own personal values. Although we developed these in 2010 when we started the business, they have changed very little. We feel very strongly about using our values to choose clients and employees, and to make business decisions.

Upstart Group Values:

1) Contribution: We make a difference by who we are and how we treat others as well as by the work we do. We care about all our clients and come alongside you to help you achieve your dreams.

2) Adventure: Work is fun and exciting. We engage our passion by learning new things. We and our partners grow with every project. We relish jobs that test our resourcefulness and our mettle. We get the job done or bring in those who can.
3) Connection: Connecting with others increases our strength. Inclusiveness multiplies our talent; acceptance stimulates thought, effort, and teamwork. We build trust through hard work and plain speaking, and we expect others to practice the same.
4) Leaps Of Faith: We practice leaps of faith—in ourselves, with others, and with the world. Our ethics make us a trustworthy partner, enabling us to negotiate the road to success honestly and predictably. Our enthusiasm is infused with a strong dose of common sense and a great appreciation for humor.

How/Why did you choose your business name?

We originally planned to work primarily with startups, hence the name Upstart Group.

What do you love most about your work?

We especially enjoy working with clients whose companies are focused on growth. And again, that can be anything from a startup all the way up to a fully mature company wanting to break into a new geographical market, a new industry, a new customer segment or launch new products. I love the diversity that our work brings. We work for small to midmarket sized companies in a number of different industries. It’s a lot of fun switching gears several times during the day, changing focus from say hazardous waste management, to financial planning services to plastic distribution to high-end luxury flooring for instance. Each company is unique in the challenges they are facing, and in our role, we get to come alongside the business owner or CEO to help them grow their company—it’s very exciting!
What is the biggest challenge in running your own business?
Working ON the business AND IN the business.

What are your/your business’ goals for the future?

Continued growth for both ourselves and our clients. More full-time employees (CMOs and Marketing Managers).

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Just do it!

Grow your business with strategic, goal-focused marketing strategies and connect with Lynn to learn more about Upstart Group.  ‘Like’ Upstart Group on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter

Lynn Fulks’ interview is part of Hera Hub’s Small Business Week Feature. Hera Hub is a coworking space a business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. Find a location near you

This year the Small Business Administration will be hosting a FREE 3-Day Virtual Conference that is open to the public. Begins Tuesday, May 1st.  More info!