On The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, our Chief Strategy Officer Wes interviews Jenelle Coy, Founder and Managing Partner at SPERO — an agency that provides solutions for both government agencies and private enterprises through both workforce personnel and digital strategy. Clients include RCA Records, Proctor & Gamble, the State Department, and many more. Last year, SPERO accrued $17MM in revenue and was recently recognized by the Capital One and Women Presidents’ Organization as one of the top five Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies. Additionally, Jenelle has also been featured on the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Marketing and Advertising and was a recipient of the Minority Business Leaders Award from the Washington Business Journal.
For Jenelle, curiosity is king. Curiosity and innovation are the foundation upon which her firm has been built — a “cross-industry, cross-sector” agency that can take lessons learned from one industry and apply them in a completely different setting. On the podcast, Jenelle walks through her journey as an entrepreneur, how her drive and willingness to ask for work opened many doors, and lessons learned as a 26-year-old entrepreneur, now running one of the fastest growing companies in America.
THE ENTRUEPRENEURSHIP TAKEAWAY:
“I think my call to action is to, in whatever way you can, continue to fuel your imagination and your curiosity. And don’t stop asking questions. Don’t stop thinking outside the box. Because that’s truly what takes businesses and other things to the next level.”
“We’re not trying to be the biggest company in the world in the next 10 seconds. What we’re trying to do is make an impact and do something that really matters.”
“I beat [imposter syndrome] by being prepared at all times. There are going to be people who just flat out don’t like you… They just don’t like the fact that you’re young and that you’re here… Those aren’t things you can control. What you can control is your response to their questions.”
“[Imagination and creativity] is the number one quality we look for when we’re hiring. It’s folks that can think outside of the box.”
“Leadership is not about having all the right answers. It’s about asking the right questions.”
“Our competitive advantage is that, as a firm, we’re hired because we have our hands in so many different industries, and we’re able to cross-pollinate ideas between mutually exclusive industries. [For example], we’re able to take things that we learned in state department contracts and apply them to an album release.”
“Age isn’t a prerequisite when we’re hiring. What’s a prerequisite is creativity and curiosity.”
“Staying fresh and staying on top of what’s new is how we’re able to not only attract clients but attract really great talent.”
KEY TOPICS DISCUSSED:
3:19: Jenelle reflects on how she inherited her entrepreneurial drive from her parents and explains why she ultimately decided to study communications in college.
6:57: Jenelle discusses her first gigs as her college career ended and how specific lessons and tools acquired from these opportunities are still in practice today.
10:48: Coy explains how her enthusiasm and determination landed her one of her first roles — a role which, in many ways, set the trajectory of her career.
13:43: Jenelle explains how, after returning from a contract job in New Orleans, she organically developed into a micro-sized firm.
16:18: Jenelle describes how one of her first huge contracts came about and reflects on some important lessons that she learned from this high-profile government assignment.
18:38: Coy explains her company’s recent, explosive success.
20:19: Coy describes the events that led her to acquire another company and how this acquisition offers competitive advantage for her firm.
24:45: Jenelle offers some great advice for hiring new employees and highlights one test of creativity that she implements in every interview with prospective talent.
27:57: Jenelle discusses how, as a young 26-year-old running a fast-growing company, she overcomes “imposter syndrome.”
29:40: Jenelle describes her company’s current state and where it’s looking to go next.
32:00: Jenelle closes the conversation with some practical advice for entrepreneurs around defining your terms and “sticking to your guns” on the things that matter.