Once upon a time in a land far, far away... Oh no, wait! This story takes place right here and now... This is the story of Marie Caroline Dumas, who launched her own consulting agency in digital marketing and communication madi&co. Let's introduce her!
In a nutshell...
For you, being an entrepreneur means above all... Being free!
The main advantage of being an entrepreneur? Freedom.
The main disadvantage of being an entrepreneur? Loneliness.
Marie, what do you do for a living?
With madi&co, the digital marketing agency I created in March 2020, I help small and medium business owners develop projects that are meaningful. My mission is to help make them visible and spread awareness of their expertise.
I’m also a trainer and mentor for other business leaders in France and Luxembourg. I help them develop their entrepreneurial project based on a digital marketing approach.
In addition to my business hat, I’m the mother of two little girls. I’m involved in my community, because as deputy mayor of my village, I work on issues related to children, sustainable development, and mobility.
Why did you choose the communication consulting sector?
At some point, it became obvious to me! I had to combine my two areas of expertise—project management and communication—to bring a solution to the stakes and challenges SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) managers face. My initial training in business school and my 10 years of experience in marketing and communication naturally inspired me to create my own agency. I’m passionate about my job. With its environment in constant motion, it requires continuous effort to stay informed and develop my skills... We’re lucky to be able to immerse ourselves in several different business sectors. In short, it's quite exciting!
Once I made my decision, everything happened very quickly. Within four months, I had my business permit in my pocket. Based on the information gathered from the House of Entrepreneurship, I opted to open an SARL-S . This legal form allowed me to benefit from the status of a company to protect me, while also benefiting from financial savings and a reduction in administrative procedures. It was a perfect fit!
"When you launch your own business, you have to be a little carefree. If you ask yourself too many questions, you’ll never even get it off the ground."
Everything was going great, with a great first job set to start... What I didn't see coming was the first lockdown exactly one week after the launch of madi&co! My busy schedule was overturned by school at home.
Would you recommend would-be entrepreneurs seek guidance as they launch their business?
Absolutely! Especially if it's your very first entrepreneurial experience! I did exactly that, and I'm still alive to tell the tale today. This keeps you in a dynamic, evolving rhythm—and helps you realise you’re not alone. Surrounding yourself with supporters is very important. Telling yourself you can handle a business all by yourself is a fantasy.
Personally, I first benefited from nyuko’s coaching program. My coach guided me for a full year, constantly bringing me back to very concrete points to help me stay on track. For example, opening an account in Luxembourg can be very complicated, and I'm glad I got the advice I needed to do it.
Then, I joined the House of Entrepreneurship’s ReAct. Here, we worked a lot on mindset. This coaching really helped me stop wasting my energy on things I couldn't control (namely, COVID)—and to instead focus it where I had power to act.
How did this make your project evolve?
I have learned to ask for help. This is the biggest change I’ve made in my professional life, and it’s benefitted my company.
After nyuko and ReAct, I wanted to continue in this process. Today, an independent coach, Emilie Ambiaux, provides me with insights. It’s an investment that I don’t at all regret. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re completely alone to make all the decisions. It can be scary to have all that responsibility, to have to deal with the consequences of all the unexpected. If you’re sick, if you have to take care of your children... it's scary. There’s no one else that you can rely on.
There can be a lot of pressure to deal with. So, having these regular exchanges helps me stay focused on the future, maintain a good mindset, and move forward. It's a precious resource for my own balance as well as that of my business!
How did you get known?
Fortunately, my first assignment was not cancelled but just postponed, and I was able to expand my client portfolio through my network and word of mouth. That's how I became known. Then, for prospecting, the customer acquisition channel that best fits my model is LinkedIn.
I can be found online on my website or on LinkedIn, and I also have a physical office in Frisange.
What is the differentiating element of madi&co?
There are two.
The first is my approach to client relations. I make it a point to establish a relationship of trust with all my clients - managers of small and medium-sized enterprises - in order to understand their issues and thus develop a long-term collaboration. We work in partnership. By combining our respective business expertise, we help develop their projects. It's important that I, too, have a say in my decision to work with someone. I’ve already refused an assignment because I felt that I was not being trusted. The person hadn’t asked me to collaborate, but rather to simply execute. If I'm just an executor, there's neither fun nor added value.
Secondly, my 10 years of experience with advertisers is a big plus. I’ve learned to be nimbler and flexible. I offer them a single point of contact. I avoid any form of condescension. We go for the simplest, fastest, most direct communication.
What’s daily life like as the CEO of a digital marketing agency?
I juggle a lot of tasks each day. Between my core business and all my exchanges with clients, administration, accounting (fortunately I subcontract to a very professional accountant, but this still requires time), updates on my website and my blog, course prep work, creation of content for the organisations I work with - you have to be organised and disciplined!
Generally speaking, I divide my time as follows: 20% is devoted to the development of my business, 20% to training and the remaining 60% to my clients' projects.
Do you have a management method you’d like to share?
I recommend taking the Prince2 project management certification. The time management component was and still is particularly useful to me. My secret is the time blocking method: organisation by work sessions with Outlook. Let me explain: I set work slots with a theme, and I try to stick to them. At the start of the year, I block time slots weekly, dedicated to the development of my business. At the beginning of the semester, I do the same for training. Finally, as soon as I land a project, I do likewise. Finally, I strive not to stray from it!
How do you strike the right balance between professional and personal life?
I find work/life balance with the " Rest - Work - Leisure" method.
On the physical side, I work out three times a week. It's my own activity to decompress... And I make sure I get a good night's sleep.
For the mental side, I talk to other entrepreneurs. It's true that at the beginning, the notorious entrepreneurial solitude weighed upon me. Being a business owner is a way of life, and you have to adapt to it! Those who are not familiar with the business world don’t always understand this choice or dare to ask questions for fear that it might make you feel uncomfortable. It’s crucial to surround yourself with intrepid veterans who can understand and support you.
How do you see your company evolving?
In the medium term, I hope to be able to develop the agency and hire. What’s essential for me is to be able to train the person to my "customer-relationship-as-a-partnership" approach.
In the long term, I see myself at the head of a small company, in a pleasant working environment where the collaboration with my team is participative. We work in real partnership with our clients, and we are useful to their projects. We create real added value for them, and we participate in developing projects that, in turn, bring real meaning.
Any last-minute advice to offer future entrepreneurs?
My top three entrepreneurial mantras:
Surround yourself well! Your close circle of friends is really important.
It doesn't need to be perfect, but it needs to be done!
Making a choice is not about giving something up, it’s about moving forward.
Interview written by Delphine Anzevui
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