Monday, November 17, 2014

An Attorney, an Accountant, and a Banker Walked into a Coffee Shop - A Business Story

Back in 2004, Eric and I decided to take the plunge into the small business world.  I wanted to work with the independent authors and publishers that I had fallen in love with throughout the 90s with my work with Jan and Terry Nathan and the #IBPA (then called Publishers Marketing Association), and we devised a plan.  I explained that I wanted to "get authors where they can't get themselves" -- My husband and business partner asked, "Like a hotel concierge?"  And thus, the light went off for Eric and it made sense to me, so WHY NOT Concierge Marketing Inc.?

At the time, "Concierge Marketing" was not a type of marketing -- that came several years later.  Now, "concierge" is often used with "marketing".  We captured the name that night in every possible variation.

Initially, we worked with artists and musicians too -- but I won't waste too much time on that, except to say that Seth Godin's "The Dip" helped me make the decision to focus solely on my authors and small publishers and refer the musicians and artists to other marketing experts.

My first client, Janie Peterson of Behaven Day Centers and Behave'n Kids Press, gave me extremely valuable advice. She said "Make friends with your attorney, your accountant and your banker. They are going to be close for a long time." So I went to the Small Business Administration's excellent full day seminar where I met one of each as they taught our class.  I still employ the same people that presented that day, and I do consider these people friends (business friends). Janie has always been a trusted friend, and also a valuable mentor. Thank you Janie (and Roger)!

After I took the #SBA classes and another full day #SCORE seminar on taxes, Eric and I decided to go for it.  The first official thing I did was to call the attorneys and start the process to incorporate.

The second official thing I did was to join the Omaha Chamber of Commerce on October 20, 2004. The educational and networking opportunities were fun, well run, and priceless. Worth every penny of membership and I highly recommend it to anyone opening a business in Omaha. I don't know about other cities, but our Chamber is top notch.  Heck, in 2012 when a group of thieves tried to steal our copper cable in the building and we were down for the count for 9 days, the Chamber let me use their conference room and phones, and even allowed me to have Fedex and UPS deliver my packages to their offices. Last March, 2013, Concierge Marketing was honored as the @OmahaChamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Month and then nominated for Small Business of the Year in 2013.

On April 2, 2005, I was standing at the Starbucks at the Mall waiting for a press conference to begin for the National Sleep Week festivities, with Janie's Sleep Fairy, and the Nebraska Sleep Fair I had organized. Well, if that date seems at all familiar, it was the day Pope John Paul II passed away. Needless to say, no press thought my Sleep Fair was more important than that. Hmmph. That's the day I met Sandra Wendel, owner of Write On Inc. who happened to strike up a conversation at that Starbucks. Not only is she the finest book editor without question, but she has also been a wonderful mentor and friend. Concierge Marketing would not have been able to do what we have done without her. Thank you so much, Sandy.

Bottom line, I could go on and on and on about the people who have been part of my life and my vision. It takes trust, support, courage, humility, faith in your idea and your skills, and a lot of people to make the dream of owning a small business a reality. It also takes a sense of humor, and I can tell you we have laughed a lot in the strangest of situations.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to do business with amazing, bright, smart, caring, thought-leading people who I admire and love -- as mentors, staff, friends, clients, and partners. I'm ready for the next ten years.

Lisa Pelto


  1. The stars were in alignment at that Starbucks in April 2005 because my business relationship with Lisa and Eric and Concierge Marketing has been the brightest for all of us. Good thing we still fuel our collaboration liberally with coffee.

    The synergy and energy and just plain hard work is truly remarkable as we have collaborated on many award-winning books and met the most incredible people with stories.

    Thank you to Lisa and Eric for making a spot for me in their galaxy. Now, to the moon and back and another 10 years, bird by bird. Sandra Wendel

  2. Aww! Thanks Sandy! It's been great fun working on these books together and I'm looking forward to many more years.


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