Meet Guildstreet’s feature small business: Authent Creative
Branding. Marketing. Visuals. If you’re a small business owner, you know that you need these foundational elements in place to help sell your products or services. Knowing that you need them and finding a partner to put them in place are two different things.
If you’re not sure where to start, creating a visual identity for your brand is the perfect kick-off point to your larger marketing strategy. Enter in Authent Creative.
Authent is a Calgary-based creative agency that discovers, inspires and creates brand identities that authentically represent their clients. Led by Conlan Wiebe, Authent takes a unique approach to creating branded products that are both tactile and creative, and truly help their clients shine.
Recently, Guildstreet sat down with Conlan to learn more about his approach and the journey it took to get him there.
Tell us how the idea for Authent Creative was born.
“I learned early in my marketing career that my calling was around creative and branded materials, combined with interior design.
“Back in my student days, a good friend of mine and I were inspired by our university marketing courses. So much so that we started a marketing agency. We were motivated and driven to do good work that would help elevate our clients’ brands. We focused on offering strategy, branding, design, digital marketing and content management services. While these marketing components are crucial, I discovered over the course of that experience that my passion and skill set was more design-oriented, and that my marketing background could complement my designs.”
“From there, I started Authent Creative. My vision has been to authentically connect with local business owners and provide them with branded products and services that really represent them,” says Conlan. “I’m a true believer that every business starts with people, and ends with people, I wanted to provide a service that helped make those connections.”
What were some of your first steps in setting up your business?
“I crafted messaging around what Authent’s value proposition would be. Looking back at my experience, it became clear that the more I worked with tangible, beautifully designed products, the more I started to notice that clients developed connections with those products.
“This was a contrast to my previous agency experience. People simply weren’t as excited when it came to marketing strategies. Most clients tended to hone-in on the dollars and immediately thought of their lack of the resources they felt they needed to successfully execute. With Authent, I focused on providing immediate and tangible branding solutions that were marketing savvy and would provide them with a polished, professional appearance, yet evoke emotional connection between their business and their customers.”
What were some of the challenges and successes along the road?
“Like many startups, I was challenged to scale-up. I had great local resources to accomplish our goals, but we had limited sales at the very beginning. Some of the early actions I took to create a buffer included:
- Budgeting for zero sales for the first year
- Creating an effective contingency plan
- Remaining as lean as possible
“Another challenge was finding the right accounting and bookkeeping support. After working with two separate firms, I realized how difficult it was to simply find a firm that provided the services advertised. All I wanted was to work with a bookkeeper who genuinely cared about my business and its long-term success!
“I’m so grateful that I was referred to Guildstreet. Before I met Keren, my last bookkeeper would provide me with late tax filings and amounts, which left me with late CRA filings, last minute tax bill values and a whole lot of stress! When I had questions, they were simply disregarded and not attended to. It was not fun.”
Conlan’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Succession and contingency planning are key to get you through the first and toughest year in business.
- Set up a personal nest egg to carry you through.
- Say yes to any and every opportunity that comes up!
- Keep an open mind and listen to your customers. Let their feedback be your friend, not your enemy!
- Ensure your values align with any other firms you work with — and stick with it!
- Remember the power of your network.
Learn more about Conlan and Authent on their website: https://authentcreative.com