Sharmila Hall on Her Digital Marketing Agency and Work/Life Balance Tips

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Hi, Sharmila! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

I’m Sharmila Hall, Founder and CEO of SMB Global Marketing, an innovative digital marketing agency dedicated to advancing the growth of small and medium-sized businesses with targeted digital marketing strategies. We specialize in web development, branding, SEO, and creating multilingual websites, ensuring our clients not only stand out but also establish meaningful connections with their target audiences. Leveraging a rich international and multicultural background, we bring a distinct global perspective to our work, merging cultural insights with the latest marketing techniques. At SMB Global Marketing, we see ourselves as more than just a service provider; we are your devoted partner in growth, focused on supporting your success every step of the way.

Who are your customers?

Our clients include both for-profit and nonprofit small to medium-sized businesses across various sectors, all seeking to boost their digital footprint and engage more effectively with audiences locally or worldwide through specialized digital marketing strategies.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Before launching my own business, my background was rooted in sales and operational leadership. I’ve always worked for small to medium-sized companies across both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. My roles as Director of Operations and Director of Sales have given me a comprehensive insight into driving growth, optimizing processes, and leading diverse teams to success, laying a solid foundation for the strategic direction of SMB Global Marketing.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Growing up with entrepreneurs in my family, starting my own business felt like destiny. My career has always been about helping small to medium-sized businesses grow through better marketing, sales, and operations. Seeing the struggles these businesses faced in the digital world, especially when they didn’t have the big budgets of larger companies, really struck a chord with me. This wasn’t just something I noticed; it felt like a call to action. So, I started SMB Global Marketing. The idea was simple: give every business, no matter its size, access to marketing strategies that actually fit their unique needs and help them compete. It’s about more than just offering services; it’s about leveling the playing field in the digital marketplace. Starting my own business was my way of answering that call, armed with the belief that every business deserves a chance to shine.

Such a powerful story, Sharmila! Take us back to when you first launched your business; what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When I launched SMB Global Marketing, my third venture, I was already established from freelancing and brought some invaluable learnings from my previous businesses. Initially, our strategy focused on visibility through video content on YouTube, scaling social media, enhancing SEO, and leveraging word of mouth. However, the reality didn’t match our expectations, as we found ourselves dedicating more time to marketing for our clients than to our own agency’s growth. Recognizing this misstep, we’re now pivoting towards building a networking community, creating a supportive group that can propel us forward. This shift represents our ongoing journey to refine our approach and ensure our marketing receives as much attention and care as we provide our clients.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way so far and what have you learned from it?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in growing SMB Global Marketing has been maintaining a balance between servicing our clients and focusing on our own business growth and marketing. It’s a common pitfall for agencies to fall into the trap of prioritizing client work so heavily that their own marketing and development take a backseat. This challenge was a significant learning curve for us, underscoring the importance of treating our agency as both a service provider and a client in its own right. From this experience, I’ve learned the critical importance of allocating dedicated resources and time to our internal projects, much like we do for our clients. Implementing structured schedules and setting clear boundaries for internal versus client-focused work has been key. Additionally, this challenge reinforced the necessity of continuously evolving our strategies and being adaptable. It’s crucial to remain agile, reassess priorities, and ensure that our growth is not sidelined.

What accomplishment are the most proud of to date in your business?

The accomplishment I’m most proud of in my business to date is the glowing reviews and feedback we’ve received from the many clients we’ve served. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear that we’ve not only met but exceeded their expectations. Our clients often highlight our ability to deeply understand their unique needs, work collaboratively with them, and provide a clear path to help their businesses grow. This positive feedback represents our team’s dedication and hard work, and it motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve together with our clients.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

The next chapter for SMB Global Marketing is all about expansion and deeper engagement. Expect to see a stronger emphasis on analytics-driven marketing and personalized customer experiences, as we believe these are key differentiators. Over the next few years, we aim to not only expand our footprint geographically but also to deepen the impact of our work. This involves partnering with businesses from diverse sectors and sizes to create marketing solutions that are not just effective but also sustainable and responsible. Our goal is to become a leading voice in digital marketing, advocating for practices that benefit businesses, consumers, and the wider community alike.

What is your top productivity tip? 

My top productivity tips are: Make a list of your daily and weekly tasks and stick to it. This helps you focus on what’s most essential and ensures you’re working towards your goals. Avoid distractions. Stay focused on the task at hand and avoid leaving things half-done. Prioritizing and adhering to this can be incredibly effective in keeping you on track toward your objectives. Rest when you need it. We can accomplish a lot more with a fresh mind!

On the flip side, how do you avoid burnout?

To avoid burnout, it’s essential to engage in activities outside of work that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s a hobby, exercise, or spending time with loved ones, you need to make sure you do something that makes you happy. Additionally, celebrating your successes, big or small, reinforces the positive impact of your efforts and motivates you for future endeavors. Last, recognizing when to delegate tasks is a crucial step in managing your workload effectively and maintaining your well-being. It’s very easy to burn out when we continue hitting ourselves against the wall.

What is your approach to work-life balance/integration?

My approach to achieving work-life balance revolves around ensuring that I have dedicated time for activities that rejuvenate me physically and mentally. I prioritize exercise as a crucial part of my routine, as it helps clear my mind, reduce stress, and keeps me physically healthy and fit. Cooking and spending time with my family are another two moments when I get to disconnect from work and cherish the joys of life beyond the professional realm.

What is one thing you wish you had known when you started your Entreprenista journey?

One piece of advice I wish I had known when I started my entrepreneurial journey is the importance of networking and building a support system. While it’s crucial to focus on the nuts and bolts of your business, the value of a strong network cannot be overstated. Connecting with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and professionals in your field can provide invaluable insights, opportunities for collaboration, and emotional support during challenging times. No one achieves success alone, and cultivating relationships can make a significant difference in your journey.

When hiring, what is your go-to interview question?

My go-to interview question is, “Why do you want to work for our brand, and how do you see yourself contributing to our mission and values?” This question is effective because it directly assesses the candidate’s alignment with your company’s culture, values, and objectives. It helps you gauge their enthusiasm for the role and the company, which is crucial for long-term engagement and success within the team. Other hiring tips: 1. Look for a cultural fit beyond evaluating skills and experience, and make sure candidates align with your company culture and values. 2. Learn what motivates the candidate beyond salary and title. When their motivations align with your company’s mission, they are more likely to be passionate and productive team members, in addition to staying longer in the role. 3. Consider how a candidate might fit into the existing team dynamics. You always want to ensure a collaborative and positive work environment, especially with smaller teams.

Are you a Mamaprenista? If so, please share your best advice for simultaneously managing a business and a family:

As a Mamaprenista and mom of two—a tween and a teen—one of my cornerstone principles has been to always prioritize my children over work. I’ve been fortunate enough to blend my work life with my role as a mom, bringing them to the office when necessary or working from home, which has allowed me to share with them what I do. I make it clear when I’m on important calls that require quiet, but they also know that when the work clock stops, my undivided attention is theirs. Here’s my best advice for fellow Mamaprenistas managing both a business and a family: Set Clear Boundaries: it’s crucial to define when and where your work time ends and family time begins. Letting your children see what you do, explaining your work, and even involving them in small, manageable ways can help them understand the importance of your work and respect the boundaries you set around it. The time you spend with your family might be limited, but making it count is what truly matters. Practice Self-Care. Remember, to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself first.

What’s the one app on your phone you absolutely cannot live without and why?

The one app on my phone that I absolutely cannot live without is my calendar. It’s the central hub for both my personal and professional life, keeping track of appointments, meetings, family events, and everything in between.

What is your favorite business tool or solution and why?

My favorite business tool is Ahrefs, both for its invaluable utility in our SEO and content marketing strategies and for the rich data it provides that benefits our clients.

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