Meg Raiano – Founder of reCreative Agency

Figure out what is missing from the area you’re in that there is a want for and then build that.”

A New England native, reCreative Agency was born out of Meg’s love for digital marketing and photography. Before making the move to Connecticut, Meg started her digital marketing career in Long Island at a small boutique business in Port Washington. After moving to CT and getting her feet wet in the digital agency arena, she now gets to focus on some of her favorite things – helping small businesses grow, hanging with her pups Willomena & Sebastien, and creating a fantastic work environment for herself and the reCreative team. When not working, you can often find Meg hiking with her dogs in Litchfield County or checking out new local breweries. It’s work, right?

Where did the idea for reCreativeAGENCY come from?

The idea for reCreative originally came from my love of photography. I lived on Long Island and was working at a small business doing their marketing as well as doing portrait photography when I wasn’t at my 9-5. While I was working on my own website and marketing, I realized that a lot of the photographers that I followed didn’t actually know how to market themselves. That’s where reCreative came to be… Originally named for my dog, Frankenstein – Frankenstein reCreative (named because Frankenstein was a creature recreated from other people, much like our businesses would be recreated from the ground up) was born to help artists market themselves so they’d no longer be struggling artists but would thrive.
We eventually dropped the Frankenstein from the name and work with all sorts of small businesses now instead of strictly artists.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up around 6am, let my pups out, enjoy a cup of coffee or two while getting caught up on the news headlines or taking in an episode of a 90s comedy (think The Golden Girls or Boy Meets World), and then I get to work. I’m much more productive in the mornings than I am in the afternoon. I like to start doing work by 7AM so I can maximize my productivity for the day. If I start a bit later than that, its ok, I just know at some point I’ll lose steam…

I typically crush all the actual production work first thing, so any outstanding projects that need to be worked on or checked out I take a look at first. I spend the better portion of my morning doing that. Later in the day is when I schedule most meetings and work on strategy and new pitches.
I usually work through lunch, make something in the kitchen and eat while I’m tying up loose ends.
I try to end work by 3pm every day, obviously thats not always possible (and doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to) but I try to keep myself to an 8 hour day max so I have time to read and enjoy some time away from work with my dogs, family, or friends.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Usually bringing ideas to life is a collaborative effort between myself, my colleagues, and the client. Whenever reCreative starts a project, we put together our plan of attack, what we think needs to be done to help make our client (and ourselves) successful. After that, its up to our collaboration to really get it off the ground.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a trend since it’s been around forever and will continue to be at top of mind for a lot of marketers, but the neuroscience of marketing is seriously the coolest. The thought processes behind why we purchase certain things, how they’re set up on the shelf, on the website, etc. That is something that I really geek out about and truly believe that as marketing evolves, the neuroscience behind it will lead the way to moving every business further.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Waking up early. It seems super simple but honestly without waking up at 6am I would literally get nothing done. Again it has a lot to do with how productive I am in the morning vs. the afternoon, and I credit my internal alarm to having two pups that wake up with the sun, but its honestly the one thing that really determines my day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Find your voice. When I was younger, I wasn’t super certain what I was going to do with my life. I spent a lot of time in other people’s shadows, just following suit because I thought it was what I should be doing. I’m not sure what my ah-ha moment was but the moment that I switched from being a go-with-the-flow kind of person to really leading my own thoughts was the day that I became who I am today.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Well – this is a hard one. I find that generally I have very strong opinions on a lot of things, and sometimes strong opinions can seem more aggressive but I wouldn’t say I have any serious opinions that are overwhelmingly denied by anyone. In marketing, I would say that something I believe to be true that I get a lot of push back from my clients on, is that traditional advertising (in newspapers, phone books, etc.) is really not going to help your business as much as you might think. Long gone are the days of old media – although we now have to have a larger discussion about net neutrality and how the changes to that will affect digital marketing in the future, for now, digital marketing is going to get you the best bang for your buck. I do find that others in the marketing & advertising profession generally agree but I do find that a lot of companies are very attached to their direct mail pieces, newspaper ads, and brochures.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of stresses put on yourself, and mostly by the choice that you made to become an entrepreneur… How will you get paid this month? How many people can you afford to pay? Do you have a contingency plan if this all goes to shit? The answer, quite often, is ‘I don’t know’. The one thing that I do over and over again that I would recommend to others in similar situations, is to reset yourself and your business. Once a day, once a week, once a month, whatever the time period that is most helpful to you. Take a couple deep breaths, write down all of your current expenses (or whatever else is currently on your mind about the business), and make sure that everything is covered. I do this once a month, but also sometimes I wake up with fear in my chest that I forgot to do something or there’s something missing that I can’t think of, and I’ll reset myself again the next day.

If all that fails – play video games. Sounds silly but honestly the one thing that really made me back away from all the business thoughts that were rolling around in my head and get some piece of mind was to play video games. And I’m not a gamer by any means, I’m pretty terrible at them, but there’s nothing like a little Mario Kart to destress yourself.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

This is going to sound a little over confident (perhaps even a wee-bit cocky) but being good at my past jobs really helped me to grow my business. Without the connections I made at the jobs I’ve had previously, I would never have gotten the majority of the clients that I have now or been able to sustain them, and without being a hard worker and an avid learner, I never would have made those connections to begin with.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Well actually my first entrepreneurial attempt was at a completely different business, photography. I was an aspiring photographer/starving artist in NY, talk about a little fish in a BIIIIIG pond. The biggest mistake I made was that I got too big for my britches too quickly. I thought that because I had photos published in international magazines and books that people would flock to me without me having to put much (or any) real effort into my name or my brand.

Social media gives you the comfort of knowing that everything you post can be seen by everyone in the world with a computer or phone, but that doesn’t mean it will be. My biggest mistake was falling into the cozy warm blanket that is social media and not actually building a business.

It took me realizing that my actual passion was helping brands grow to really get out of that habit. I learned as much as I could about the changing digital landscape and ran from there. It really comes down to educating myself and using that knowledge to grow into the entrepreneur I’ve become.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

So my idea is kind of a hybrid between idea and advice – Figure out what is missing from the area you’re in that there is a want for and then build that. I’d love to give you thousands of ideas for businesses but honestly it depends where you are in the world, what the economy is in your area, and how you’re going to get yourself out there…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I recently spent is actually a combination of things. reCreative is a work-from-home agency so I spend most of my days sitting in my home office. The best $100 I’ve spent is for things related to housework. Half of that $100 goes to shoveling. Living in Connecticut, we get a decent amount of snow… I hire a service to come and shovel my car out during the winter because I hate doing it myself, I’m not good at it, I get frustrated with it easily, and would rather be doing something more business oriented. The other half goes to the dog groomer. I have two pups, one of which has hair, not fur, so it continues to grow until she looks like a muppet. These services that would take me lots of time and energy to complete, without having to take care of them myself, I can focus on the work tasks at hand and know that my home and pups are being taken care of.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

This is a pretty basic one but I love using Google Sheets to create task lists, invoice lists, KPI docs for our clients, etc. It makes conversion a breeze (from Apple to PC) and lets the team not have to worry about having the most recent document or having a different type of computer.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I read a book recently that really resonated with me – it has a lot to do with photography which is why I picked it up originally but the premise can really help every business to grow. The book is called “Worth Every Penny” by Sarah Petty & Erin Verbeck.
This book will help you to see the value (or not) in your business practices and help you learn to sell them to your customer base. When first starting out that was one of the most difficult things for me to do – setting a price, knowing why my price was set that way, and sticking to it.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote may seem silly but when I first moved to Connecticut I met one of my best friends, Danielle. We worked in side-by-side cubicles, and when I started I honestly didn’t know much about anything… She helped me get through the first few months and really taught me about the company. We often griped to each other, as co-workers do, about the state of affairs in the company and one day it was time for our yearly reviews. I was nervous as all get out… Danielle said one simple thing that has stuck with me to this day – “You are a shark.”

Key learnings:

  • Know when you’re most effective. Figure out how your body works through out the day so that you can be the most productive.
  • Find your own voice. As an entrepreneur your company is really a reflection of your own thoughts. Make sure that you have your own vision for your business before you take any drastic steps.
  • Be flexible. Create a plan for your business and for your clients but make sure you have the ability to be flexible with your ideas. Collaboration is key.
  • Learn everything you can. Its sometimes hard to get in a little extra time to read every day, especially when you’re building a business. Being able to learn and grow with your company will ultimately help lead you to success.

Connect:

reCreative Agency on  Twitter: twitter.com/reCreative_ct
reCreative Agency on  Instagram: instagram.com/reCreative_ct
reCreative Agency on  Facebook: facebook.com/reCreativeAGENCY

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