Welcome to Becoming the Boss, our series celebrating the transition from solo-entrepreneur to employer through the voices of first-time job creators.
After hitting a crossroad in her career, Megan Driscoll faced a tough decision: look for a job at another public relations agency or venture out and open a firm of her own. Megan decided to follow her gut and start her own business, EvolveMKD – and she’s never looked back.
Having been named the 2018 Dream Big Women-Owned Business Achievement Award recipient at our Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., Driscoll is recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit and EvolveMKD’s success. Throughout the year, the Dream Big Awards Program celebrates the best in American small business. Businesses like EvolveMKD represent success and leadership across business growth performance, innovative business strategies, community engagement, as well as customer and employee relations.
“Building this business has been the best decision I have ever made,” Driscoll told the Chamber, “I’m excited and invigorated every day by the teamwork at EvolveMKD.”
Driscoll and her tight-knit collection of storytellers and strategists work on a simple philosophy: EvolveMKD gets it done and makes work fun. Working with beauty, healthcare and lifestyle brands, EvolveMKD specializes in campaign development, social and digital media, and Driscoll’s self-coined, “brand caretaking.”
But Megan Driscoll and EvolveMKD didn’t get here overnight. Overcoming gender biases and navigating client relationships, Megan has kept her company true to its name, leading it through evolutions. “I’m proud that although our client base has transitioned over the years, we have been able to grow without feeling the impact of ebbs and flows.”
What inspired the creation of EvolveMKD?
I opened EvolveMKD out of necessity. About six months into my business partnership at my last public relations agency, it became clear it wasn’t going to work out long-term. I then had a choice – I could go to another agency, be someone else’s right hand, and potentially have the same experience repeat itself or I could trust my gut and follow an instinct that told me I could open an agency on my own.
I never really dreamt about being an entrepreneur or starting my own company. When people used to ask me what I wanted to do when I graduated from college, my answer was “work with nice people.” I realize now that should have been a sign, as the only way to ensure you are working with nice people, is to create the company for them to work at.
What does EvolveMKD do for its clients?
EvolveMKD was founded upon the philosophy that the client-agency relationship should be a partnership, with the agency operating as an extension of our clients. We are brand caretakers who cultivate meaningful relationships to widen a brand’s sphere of influence. And we don’t just crank out material to see what sticks. We rely on a data-driven approach that will cut through the noise and make an impact with our client’s customers.
Through strategic thinking and flawless execution, we impact our client’s business results and sustain growth. In today’s digital age where companies of every size and shape are navigating a 24/7 news cycle, we are strategic partners for every interaction along the way, whether in a boardroom or a bar.
What is the greatest challenge you faced while building EvolveMKD?
As every entrepreneur knows, the process of getting a business off the ground presents some logistical challenges. Obtaining the necessary financial support was the most formidable of these hurdles. I knew I needed operating capital to pay staff and cover the basic business functions until we saw some revenue, but it was difficult to determine just how much and when.
Even after EvolveMKD became profitable, I was shocked by the gender bias I encountered when I tried to rent an office space for my team. At the last minute, the landlord tried to add a clause requiring a personal guarantee from my husband. But after asking the landlord whether he had ever asked a wife to guarantee a lease, he backed down.
What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Looking outward, I’m very proud EvolveMKD has been able to donate 10% of our profits to-date to charities in the U.S. that support underprivileged women and children. As a business owner, I think you have a responsibility to create and give opportunities to everyone—most importantly the community around you.
What does it mean to not only have created your own job, but to also create jobs for others?
Owning and leading a business is about more than just making money. It’s about shaping others’ careers and making the world a better place. EvolveMKD has created more than 20 jobs in the past 4.5 years for a diverse group of individuals. Being able to support women and men in every stage of life – including students, working mothers, single mothers, and working grandmothers – has been incredibly impactful.
And it’s not just about creating jobs – I wanted to create an environment where employees can grow their careers and feel empowered by their colleagues. The team describes EvolveMKD as “a family” that “helps each other through the rough days and cheers each other after big (and little) wins.”
My biggest leadership lesson has been to encourage women to define what they want from their job and prepare for the next step in their career. At the end of the day, I want to ensure all of my employees are challenged to meet their own potential.
**As for words of advice for aspiring small business owners, Megan goes back to what drove her to open EvolveMKD: Go with your gut, every time.