Your business castle needs a foundation.
This is way more logical than it sounds.
And it involves no princesses or magic lands — which just provided a giant relief to half of you and a major disappointment to the other half.
Either way, stick with me. Because your castle deserves its foundation.
You've probably noticed:
Building a business isn't a linear journey.
We always start out treating it as though it's going to be. We talk about it in linear terms, saying things like, one foot in front of the other, first this thing and then that thing, point A to point B and so on.
As your business started gaining momentum, doing things in a linear way took a back seat to just getting things done.
You quickly learned that most of the time, “good enough for today” was about all you had space for. There simply wasn't enough time — or enough you — to do things in the most linear way. Or even in a particularly rock solid way.
But it was enough to keep your business kept moving and growing.
And you kept figuring out how to duct tape the cracks here and there, patch up issues, scramble, and forge ahead. And the more speed the business picked up, the more you focused on keeping up and keeping it all going good enough for now.
Then, one day, you realized… “good enough for now” isn't working anymore
The fixes and the patches and the “good enough for nows” that let you keep up and keep going served their purpose: They got you here. But as you look ahead, you realize you're not standing on the kind of solid ground that's going to let you grow confidently. Or remain sustainable over the long-term.
In fact, you realize… the ground's pretty shaky and unstable. And that's an unnerving feeling.
It might feel like you're starting to lose your grip on your own business. Like it's starting to spiral out of control.
Or it might feel like you've worked so hard to build the start of something great, only to realize this far in that you built it on sand that's quickly being washed away beneath you by all the things you didn't even know you didn't know.
It is an unsettling feeling. But it's also very normal, and entirely fixable.
Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
You did a damn good job getting your castle built, and getting it this far.
Now you need a damn good foundation under it, so you can focus on growth, sustainability, and durability: not simply patching, scrambling, and hoping “good enough to get through today” gets you through tomorrow.
You're in the right place.
In other words, and to paraphrase Thoreau…
You've built your business castle. I'll help you build its foundation.
Marissa is a true unicorn, except that she really does exist in real life. She has an incredible range of knowledge and skills that is pretty much impossible to find in one person.
She’s a careful listener, analyst, guide, problem solver, and implementation master. She’ll figure out what’s broken in your business and help develop a plan to fix it.
Marissa has the unique gift of being able to analyze any situation and come up with creative solutions that make perfect sense, yet were so elusive that you never would have connected the dots without her.
She’s a big-picture person who can also drill down to the nitty-gritty and make substantial change.
Marissa is kind, incredibly supportive, thorough and reliable. She’s a true professional, and someone you definitely want to have in your corner.
I can’t say enough good things about Marissa as a person, and of her work.Lisa Wood
Symptoms of a Business on Shaky Ground
When your business foundation is unstable, everything else in the business feels unstable too. With an unstable foundation, you're probably experiencing some of the following issues in your business:
- Inconsistent revenue. The good ol' “feast or famine” cycle is way too familiar.
- Constantly in launch mode. Launching isn't bad, but it's meant to be only one tool of many.
- Revenue goes up; profits don't.
- Building Frankenstrategies. You do a little bit of what you see her doing, and a little of what you see him doing, and a bit of what they said was good to do… stitching pieces of various strategies together, rather than creating streamlined, focused strategies made for you.
- Priority Paralysis. Too many priorities leads to not making consistent progress on any of them.
- It feels like you're constantly reinventing the wheel.
- Creative depletion and emotional burnout. No matter how well-rested you feel, you still feel like well is dry. It's harder to show up in the places that require your particular mojo, because you're spread too thin trying to keep up with everything else.
I came to Marissa with a cloud of confusion, and she helped me turn that into clarity. I don’t know about you, but clarity allows me to take massive action, so the session has paid for itself many times over.Henri Junttila
Signs of a Business with a Stable Foundation
When your business is supported by a stable and resilient foundation, things look different:
- Consistent and Predictable Revenue.
- Strategic use of launching as one of several methods for achieving business goals.
- The focus is on what you keep, not just what you make.
- Streamlined strategies tailored for your business and goals.
- Priority clarity. Focusing on the items that truly matter to your business allows you to make progress where it counts.
- Systems and processes help your operations run smoothly and consistently, and ensure that once something's figured out, you don't have to re-figure it (and re-re-figure it) every time thereafter.
- Creative and emotional wellbeing. Simplifying and streamlining what must be done makes space for what can be done, and preserves your ability to do it with gusto.
Marissa helped me strategize about how to run my business optimally, so I'm focusing on the work that brings the highest value to my business. The questions she asked completely reoriented my thinking about my priorities and what work I really wanted to be doing.Julie Stuart
More or Better tactics won't make your shaky ground feel stable.
Tactics can't substitute for what your foundation lacks.
Tactics are perfect for amplifying growth and speed.
But if you try to go for bigger and faster on a business infrastructure that's already showing signs of problems where it's at, it's easily foreseeable that all of the problems are only going to become more prominent and harder to handle.
Piling on tactics instead of fixing your foundation exacerbates all the issues listed above: inconsistent revenue, priority paralysis, reinventing the wheel, emotional burnout, etc.
But if “more tactics” isn't the answer, what is?
When it comes to helping people get creative and productive, I’m one of the best. That said, it’s still easy to get lost in your own world and not be able to apply the very medicine you teach others.
Marissa gets creative chaos, and being able to sort things out with her made a huge difference to me and my business. She’s absolutely indispensable and I highly recommend her if you need somebody to guide you out of the creative labyrinths you’ve made for yourself.Charlie Gilkey
Trusted Advisor + Hands-On Help
With a blend of tech savvy and digital business acumen, I've spent the past 8 years marrying the worlds of Expert Advisor and Hands-On Can-Do-Ologist to help purpose-driven solo and micro entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses.
Even when the ground initially felt shaky.
The key is being able to Identify priorities — and focus and act on them rapidly; simplify and streamline services, strategies, and systems to remove what's not working and make as effective as possible what's necessary; multiply the areas that are already working well; and amplify efforts and outcomes.
To do that you need someone who can be a trusted collaborator, providing advice and guidance from years of experience, as well as offering get-it-done hands-on support where needed to keep things moving along.
What that looks like in practice is tailored to the each client's specific needs.
Marissa helped me get my systems in place with my email marketing and my group coaching programs. She also did a tremendous job with my web site, opt-ins and landing pages. She knows her stuff when it comes to how the inner workings of businesses run! Anyone who has the opportunity to work with her will be well taken care of.Sherold Barr
What I'll Do For You
Exactly what I'll do is determined by your business, your goals, where you're at with your business, what's working in the business and what's not, and what we agree upon as the area(s) that we'll be focusing on.
In other words, I can't tell you what I'll do FOR your business until I get to know more ABOUT your business.
Some examples of the types of work I do during a client collaboration include:
- strategizing and planning — not just aspirationally, which can set you up for delays and disappointments, but pragmatically, with an experienced eye on what it really takes to accomplish what's on the drawing board, which allows you to make informed decisions about your business priorities and goals
- mapping out email campaigns, and setting up the campaign in your email service provider or CRM
- conducting a website audit for usability, effectiveness, and SEO, and implementing changes based on the proposed changes
- conducting a funnel audit, and implementing changes based on the proposed changes
- filling in gaps in your client onboarding process, or creating an onboarding process
- making all of the tech pieces play nicely together (…you know how all the techy pieces give you a massive migraine? It's the opposite for me — I love the techy pieces.)
- reviewing existing content assets for potential splintering and repurposing, interview and outreach topics, or updating
- creating and/or updating an Operations Manual for your business’s systems, processes, and vital information
- cleaning up and updating a website
- creating graphics for your website, social media profiles, blog posts, or social sharing
- conducting a landing page or sales page audit and making changes based on the proposed changes
- developing lists of content ideas for your blog
- assessing your analytics for content or outreach opportunities, website issues, content strategy possibilities, and other actionable insights
…plus more / other types of work, depending on what objectives we’re working toward. But those give you some idea.
I worked with Marissa when I was evolving my business, and that was a big task. Sometimes you just need help from someone who’s been there, has the contacts and is in the know. Marissa calmed me down and gave me clarity where there was none before.
I came off the call with Marissa feeling like I knew what to do. Make no mistake: no one is going to do the hard work for you, but it is so much easier when you have a coach who knows what she is talking about. I took notes a plenty during our call and I am referring to them as I put into place her slick strategies for expanding and moving my business forward.
Calm, steady, compassionate and wise are a few of the words I would use to describe Marissa. When the world seems like it is falling apart around your feet, there is one lady to call: Marissa Bracke.Star Monroe
What This Is Not
Though my work with clients includes hands-on implementation, I’m a strategist first. I'm not a virtual assistant or an online business manager.
I consider this an asset
When you work with me, you're not hiring a set of hands to run through a punch list of tasks, or to oversee a handful of goals that you hope will get your business in the vicinity of your goals. If you want that, you can find that much cheaper elsewhere.
When you work with me, you're collaborating with someone who meets you where you're at, assesses what's working and what's not from a holistic view, sees where there are gaps that need to be filled in and advises how that can best be done, and provides hands-on help to get done what needs to get done along the way.
I won't simply take a punch-list of items to be done.
That's because the goal of my collaboration with you is not “complete a task list.”
My goal is to help you do business better. With more stability. More spaciousness. More resilience.
How we get there is tailored to your needs and goals, highly collaborative, iterative, and insistently pragmatic but rarely linear.
To that end, we work together to develop the priorities we'll focus on. We meet regularly, and we assess and adapt our actions as needed.
With Marissa on task I’m totally comfortable knowing that she’ll deliver what I ask for (and often more). As a result I have expanded mental space for creative work and more freedom in my business.Tzaddi Gordon
What does this cost?
Each engagement is a flat monthly rate, meaning no hourly billing to worry about!
After we speak and I find out more about your specific business, your current situation, goals, and projects, I'll be able to give you a quote.
Clues That You're Probably Perfect for Strategy + Implementation
This isn't dispositive, and we will always start out by having a call to get to know each other and make sure we're on the same page, and that we're a good fit.
But these are pretty good indicators that you're going to be a solid fit and see a lot of benefit from working with me:
- You're a consultant, knowledge worker, or info product creator serving a business market.
- You're running your business as a solo or micro business, and have no plans to change that. (In other words, your model of business might include one or two independent contractors… maaaaaybe one full-time assistant, eventually, someday… but that's about it.)
- You've been in business for at least a year, and you're profitable.
- OR, if you haven't been in business for at least a year or are not profitable, then you have an ample cash buffer to use for services like this, because you understand that this is about long-term and long-lasting solutions. This is not a quick fix for fast cash.
- You would rather be consistent and sustainable over the long term, than briefly wildly “successful” and/or “famous” while running on razor thin margins.
- You understand that “passive” income is a misnomer, and that all income requires work.
- You're fine with putting in hard work on a consistent basis, but you want that effort to move the needle on a consistent basis, instead of feeling like it's all hard work and only sporadic (and unpredictable) lurches of progress.
- You welcome reasoned, experienced feedback in furtherance of your business objectives.
- You firmly believe that a sense of humor is necessary for survival in life and business, and people who take everything too seriously make your eyelids twitch.
OK, I’ve been meaning to write this testimonial for a while. I have a tendency to not do all those things I’ve “been meaning to do for a while”, so the fact that you’re reading it is a testament to Marissa in itself.
I don’t really know how Marissa does what she does, to be honest. I think that’s the beauty of her. I'd say, “MARISSA! HELP!” and then we'd talk, she'd turn all of the loose threads and sundry ideas into things that could actually be done (and did, in fact, get done), and then I'd get to walk away to have a nice gin and tonic to celebrate my progress.
Zero drama. Much gin. That's a grand alternative to chaos, isn’t it?
Hire Marissa this minute before she is completely booked and you wind up on a waiting list while the rest of us who did hire her are happily sipping our gin and tonics.Naomi Dunford
Who This Isn't Right For
As with the list above, this isn't dispositive in all cases. But if most of the list below feels like you, it's probably a pretty safe bet that this isn't going be the right fit, right now.
Indicators That This Isn't The Right Fit, Right Now:
- You make tangible widgets, serve mainly a direct-to-consumer market, and/or are primarily a brick-and-mortar business.
- Success for you includes a BIG TEAM. Whether they're full-time, part-time, or independent contractors, you know that your vision includes a whole lot of people working for you.
- You're cash-strapped.
- You're doing any kind of price comparison, at all. (That might sound harsh. But service providers are patently non-fungible; if you're considering them swap-out-able depending on price, you and I have fundamental differences in how we approach service, and that would render us a poor fit for one another.)
- You want a lot of sizzle, and you don't care how it's done — ethics, margins, blah blah blah — just make it happen!
- You're ready for the 4-Hour Workweek, or the 2-Hour Workday, and want someone to figure it out, set it up, and run it for you.
- You believe that anything in business that is not easy or fun can or should be delegated to someone who does find it easy or fun.
- You believe that receiving negative feedback hinders your ability to manifest your best possible life, so you refuse to hear anyone who offers any critical feedback, regardless of the context.
- You find the idea of a business owner calling her two dogs the Canine Vice Presidents of her company highly distasteful.
Who am I?
We're talking about building a foundation for your business castle — you probably want to know who's going to be architecting this alongside you, right?
That'd be me. Hi! I’m Marissa, and I specialize in solving business puzzles, bringing simplicity and clarity to challenging endeavors, and crafting customized strategies that support and sustain bold visions.
I've spent the past 8 years helping purpose-driven solo and micro entrepreneurs build and grow businesses that support both their visions and their bottom lines.
With a uniquely broad perspective bridging expertise in marketing, strategy, and tech, I advise with practical specifics while maintaining a view of how those specifics affect the whole.
And by seamlessly merging implementation services with consultancy services, I'm able to both advise and implement alongside you, offering a more robust all-in-one collaboration to the solo and micro entrepreneurs who previously had only the option of seeking out multiple service providers.
I'm also a Certified Digital Marketing Professional, carrying certifications across eight core disciplines: customer value optimization, customer acquisition, content marketing, email marketing, social media, search marketing, data and analytics, and optimization and testing.
(In other words, I study my field vigorously, expand my expertise ambitiously and consistently, and am endlessly fascinated by the world of digital business. And I love putting it all to good use for my clients!)
“I'm interested! How do we get started?”
Fill out the form below to let me know you're interested. I'll reply to you with details on how to get started.
Got some questions? Email me and I'll get back to you in a jiffy.
Not quite ready for Strategy + Implementation Collaboration? That's okay. I send a weekly letter giving practical answers to business questions for business owners who believe in good business and good karma, for free.
Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the good and the bad, and that is what Marissa helped me do. I recommend you chat with Marissa if you feel like you have all the ideas in the world, but nothing is happening.
In the end I guess it all comes down to: would I hire Marissa again? Heck yeah!Henri Junttila
Marissa helped me see the scope of my life as a creative entrepreneur with fresh eyes. The “stucknesses” we addressed in our sessions allowed me to identify (minus feelings of overwhelm and confusion) what needed to be done and, more importantly, in what order. The way Marissa held me accountable in a friendly yet firm way had me making enthusiastic, visible progress!Jeanne Demers
There is absolutely no one in the world with Marissa Bracke’s caliber of savvy organizational mojo and utter on-top-of-it-ness — and boy oh boy, have I looked. It’s almost impossible for me to write this testimonial without a few readers thinking I’m full of shit — because ridiculously, she’s just that good.
I honestly can’t think of a smarter hire for any business under the sun (or on the web). She approached each one of our interactions with such obvious care and attention that it’s clear to me our projects mattered to her.
It has been an enormous pleasure to get to work with her. Don’t bother looking for another Marissa. Just hire Marissa.Megan Elizabeth Morris
In one phone call, I came to Marissa with about twenty different questions and she helped me think through all of them in a really strategic way.
When I called Marissa, I knew I could count on having a great strategy session, whether she was brainstorming with me about products, helping me figure out where I could create systems, or pointing me to useful resources. Working with her helped my business and my life flow a little easier.Julie Stuart