Spotlight: Anne T. Donahue
This entrepreneur discusses the importance of being human in a digital world.
Tell us about yourself and your role within your company
I’m a person and freelance writer, which means I work for myself and under my own name. I’m lucky in that I write what I care about, and get to talk about it in real life and on CBC’s q.
I host a podcast on eOne called Nobody Cares (Except For Me); each week, I feature a guest who talks about something they love. My podcast shares the name of my upcoming book, Nobody Cares, out in September 2018 with ECW Press. I also tweet a lot.
What is the most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur? What keeps you passionate and driven to succeed?
I like being able to work under my own name and to build a career on my own terms. Patti Smith once said that if you keep your name clean, it becomes a currency and you can trade on it, and I love that. I’m also, like most Jenna Maroneys (30 Rock) of the world, a total narcissist with a god complex. I like making things and then making other people pay attention to them. And fortunately, writing and podcast hosting allows for that (sometimes).
The thing is, what keeps me passionate isn’t other people, it’s my need to compete with myself. I’m not sure that’s particularly healthy, but I like to try and challenge myself, see what I can do, whether or not I can one-up it and then take it from there. This process helps because I pour a lot of my feelings into my work, so while I’m not great at articulating my emotions in real life, I’ve found a way to do it professionally.
The digital landscape is changing rapidly, with more and more Canadians using digital marketing tools to drive more leads and increase sales. For you, what are some key concepts or strategies that you suggest for small business owners?
I think it’s important to be yourself, to be transparent and to be authentic. It’s 2018 and we know that digital marketing is an art, but it’s also an industry with a lot of people behind it. I think it’s important to acknowledge those people and the individuality fuelling a brand, but do so with balance: an account can’t just be someone’s personal blog and it also can’t just be links to slogans or discounts. People are multi-faceted and brands/businesses are, too. It’s good to show support for local teams, causes and the like, but avoid weighing in just to weigh in.
"I abide by the words of The Office character Dwight Schrute: “Would an idiot do that? And if [they] would, I do not do that thing.”"
What advice do you have for aspiring and prospering business owners when it comes to taking their business to the next level?
I think maintaining a sense of authenticity is important. I look at businesses and ask, who are these owners? Why should I care about their business? What makes them special? What do they stand for? We’re living in a time where it’s not enough just to be a business—we want to see how and with whom they align themselves, what causes they support, where their money goes, why they tweet about certain things, why they use certain language. That can be scary for an owner, so remember: your name is your currency. Exist in a way you’d be fine with being remembered for. And be prepared to acknowledge and apologize when you’ve made a mistake. It’s never too late to learn.
Save your seat at the Free Mississauga Small Business Centre event, and meet Anne T. Donahue and other entrepreneurs in your community.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
6:00pm ‑ 8:00pm
Rogers Small Business Centre
60 Bristol Road E
Mississauga, ON L4Z 3K8