Ilise Benun has been mentoring creative professionals for the last 30 years. She is the author of 7 books for the creatively self-employed, founder of Marketing Mentor, a coach and podcast host. She recently sat down with our CEO, Ryan Gill, to talk about Communo, the sharing economy platform he’s building for the marketing, advertising and digital services industry. Here are some excerpts from the broadcast.


Entrepreneurship is in vogue right now, but it’s not for everyone

Thanks, in part, to social media, entrepreneurship has become very trendy right now. We often see images of millennials with their laptops, on a beach somewhere – apparently, they’re livin’ the entrepreneurial dream. Why doesn’t that seem to be the case for most of us? Ryan and Ilise talk about how hard entrepreneurship really is and admit it may not be for everyone. Gill, the author of Community, Inc. , a guidebook for the creative professional, recommends that people find a partner to help run their company or join a community, like Communo, where you can lean on others to help you scale your business.

“During the first few years, it’s a lot of work. Some people are wired for it and some people aren’t. Some people can learn it and some people will never learn. I think those people should go get a job.”

If you find being an entrepreneur too stressful and you’re anxious about it, it may not be for you and that’s ok. Find a job, be an employee, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for those who want to be an entrepreneur, finding a community can make it easier. Communo is for the solopreneur or creative professional who wants to work “for yourself, not by yourself.” Another key piece of advice for creative professionals is not to give up too quickly. Perseverance is really critical.

“Communo is talent management on steroids”

The Communo model can help solopreneurs with business development because everyone else who joins Communo wants to do business with you. Since they are pre-vetted, you always know that other Communo members are experts in their field and they can help round out the edges of your business and help you land bigger clients and better projects. There are 43 different niches represented in Communo. It’s also a closed community – no clients allowed. Gill says this was an intentional move to preserve the craft and value of good marketing.

You can listen to Episode #355 here.

“We want people to build a business, and you can’t build a business when you’re getting asked to make a $5 logo.”

Gill says Communo is an effort to bolster the marketing industry. It’s well known that “Agencies of Record” are a thing of the past and most work, these days, is awarded on a project by project basis. Gill says you can either fight it or learn to accept it and move forward. He advises marketing professionals and Communo members be upfront when they are hiring other members to work on joint projects. There is no stigma anymore about using freelancers, he says, because clients are getting smarter and they want to know they are no longer paying for big salaries and lots of employees who aren’t even working on their account. It’s actually a more transparent way of doing business.

“We are trying to make the world a smaller place”

In real life communities and compounds are an important part of Communo. Right now, there are compounds in Calgary, Seattle and a new one just opened in Vancouver. Toronto will be next, with compounds in Dallas and Atlanta not far off. Gill really believes that even though we are working in a virtual world, those real-life connections are super important. Working as a solopreneur can be lonely, and that’s why each Compound hosts monthly Member Blenders where people can come in to socialize, network, have a drink and find out what one another is working on. Some people come to Communo for talent, some people come for deal flow and some people come for both.” We all come for the community.

Thanks, Ilise for having Ryan on the show. You can learn more about Ilise and the Marketing Mentor by visiting her website.


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