Jordan Lacenski founded BrandBoss Creative. She also cofounded the SheWolf Collaborative (where she is an “alpha”). The collaborative is organized as a business “wolf pack” that consists of complementary providers of marketing services. Through its organization, SheWolf Collaborative benefits its clients, members, and the broader community of women entrepreneurs.
Jordan’s excitement about the prospects for SheWolf is transparent. She’s effusive about her fellow “pack members.” I spoke with her about what sparked this innovative business approach and its evolution.
The Law of the Jungle
As a niche provider of marketing services, Jordan lives in the “long tail” of businesses. As a member of the SheWolf Collaborative, she enhances the chances of her survival and success in that challenging environment. The logic of making connections in an ecosystem full of competitors is reflected in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Law of the Jungle.
Those of us who live and work in the long tail of product and service-based businesses can feel as if we are lone wolves. We work hard to differentiate ourselves from a host of competitors. With focus, determination, and luck we carve out a niche in which to survive. We outsource and automate in order to keep our fixed costs down and our breakeven sales rate low. Those behaviors give us a fighting chance. However, they also tend to isolate us from others.
Being alone can make us vulnerable. In order to understand the world clearly, we must avoid self-deception. As physicist Richard Feynman put it, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” To avoid fooling ourselves, we must seek collaborations with others who view the world from different perspectives.
By nature, we are social animals. As columnist and author David Brooks notes, “We become who we are in conjunction with other people becoming who they are.” To deny that basic truth is to deny our nature. Through the formation of SheWolf, Jordan and her colleagues are embracing that which makes them stronger.
The Best of Both Worlds
As BrandBoss – that is, as a solopreneur – Jordan is compelled to continuously sharpen her focus and trim fixed costs. As a pack member of SheWolf Collaborative, Jordan represents a portfolio of capabilities usually in the domain of a large firm. As a result, each pack member can (at least in theory) offer small businesses the economy of a small agency and the scope of a larger agency. Specialization and breadth – it’s a neat trick.
Built-in Peer Network
Jordan explains that SheWolf emerged from an informal referral relationship between the cofounders. Over time, trust grew. Cooperation blossomed into collaboration. The pack became a safe place in which to share intimate business details such as pricing and strategy. As a consequence, SheWolf soon came to represent something much more than a source of referrals. It became a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs. By tapping into their collective experience and know-how, pack members accelerate their individual development as entrepreneurs.
The pack’s collective marketing experience is impressive. It encompasses branding, film, social media, copywriting, photography, event planning, food, graphic design, website design, music, fashion, and art. In addition to Jordan, the SheWolf pack includes more than a half-dozen specialist marketers across the U.S.
Effective social organization makes us smarter. The smarter we become, the more useful and valuable we are to our customers and clients. Indeed, the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
Beyond the Pack
Jordan and her colleagues are selective about who gets to join the SheWolf pack. It’s an exclusive club. However, it’s built upon a set of shared values that are inclusive. SheWolf is an unabashed supporter of women and women entrepreneurs. As Jordan might put it, a “GirlBoss” is fearless, bold, purposeful, and maybe a little bit crazy. To foster and encourage the GirlBoss ethos, SheWolf sponsors an ongoing series of coworking and other events open to the broader network of women in their communities.