“Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go,” is a motto literally sitting on Whitney’s work desk to remind her not to take where she’s at in her career for granted. Her integrity and passion for her work is what’s propelled her business success through the years since starting Tulip Tree in 2013. For National Entrepreneur Day, we wanted to share the stories and tips that have brought Whitney to where she is today.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
W: Sure – it was always an idea on the table. Growing up, both my parents actively ran businesses. My dad managed a plumbing business and my mom opened her own hair salon. Watching both my parents run their own businesses, especially in a small town, I was able to see the sides of business that some people never get a chance to see. My parents held integrity and relationships in the highest regard for their companies; values that I always knew would be important in my own career.
What made you start Tulip Tree Studios?
W: I got my start in marketing and design at an agency in Rochester, MN right out of college, but for a company that had little respect for relationship business. It gave me great experience, but an even greater appreciation for how my parents chose to run their businesses. So, after a few years, the opportunity arose to open Tulip Tree Studios alongside my dad’s newly established commercial mechanical business – an opportunity I knew I couldn’t pass up, even if I was “only” 26 years old.
What is the hardest part(s) of running your own company?
W: The hardest parts are also the most thrilling parts for me. One thing that can weigh heavy is knowing I’m responsible for my employees’ livelihoods and my clients’ businesses. Additionally, marketing is an industry that’s constantly evolving, meaning up-to-date research and constant improvement is important for us to execute our roles effectively. The continuous adapting and pivoting means constant, never-ending change which isn’t always the easiest.
If you were to describe Tulip Tree Studios as a person – what would they be like?
W: She’s a straight-shooter. Tells you like it is, but with tact. She would be clever, professional, and strategically creative. She’d be one to push the traditional business casual to be trendier, only wearing black and white, with her hair constantly being tied up in a messy bun (for efficiency, of course). She’s the type of person you’d want to debate with over lunch, and solve the world’s problems with over drinks. She’s sassy yet classy, doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and is always focusing on the bigger picture. (Anyone else think that sounds familiar?!)
What drives your work ethic every day?
W: Finding smart solutions to problems that make the most sense for the big picture. There’s a lot of easy ways out, but more often than not the easy choice is not the best choice. Every morning, though not “early” by most people’s definition, I’m excited to work with my team and do what I love with people who share the same passion to be creative and help businesses reach their goals. The fact that we succeed because we help other businesses succeed is a huge motivator for working hard.
What are your goals moving forward for Tulip Tree Studios?
W: My overall goal of course is to grow, but never too big that I don’t personally know who our clients are. Like any other entrepreneur, I didn’t start the business to one day close it. I started a business to create a sustainable legacy for someone else to take over when I want to be done.
What would you tell an aspiring business owner?
W: Your first two years are going to be the hardest. As much as you have an idealistic idea of what you want the business to be going into it, you first-and-foremost need to be willing to pivot to what your customers want or desire in order to be successful. Remember, you’re ultimately in the business for them, not for yourself. Secondly, hire a good accountant from the get-go. They’ll be invaluable in helping your business succeed and grow. Do not be afraid to hire out any other services (that your accountant says you can afford). Hiring out will allow you to focus on what you should be doing to help propel your business forward, so utilize your strengths and hire out the rest. Thirdly, never say never. It’ll bite you in the ass every time.