We have been celebrating our 5-year anniversary as a company all month long, and it wouldn’t be a celebration without hearing from our founders. Carly Reeves started 2930 Creative in a small apartment because she knew she had a different vision of what a Dallas agency should look like. I sat down with Carly recently and picked her brain on a variety of topics, from whom she considers her role models to what it was like starting a successful small business.

Despite popular belief, you do not need to know everything there is to know about running a business before you start one. Carly, for example, didn’t have any formal business management experience, although she had started a few “side hustles,” as she likes to call them—side ideas to try and make some extra money. These small ideas always seemed to fizzle out, so Carly decided to go big when she started 2930 Creative. While it might seem daunting to start a company without an MBA or business experience, Carly says that it is important to allow yourself “to make mistakes.”

Running a business isn’t for everyone, though. Carly always knew she wanted to run a business, and now that she has accomplished that, she has learned a few lessons that surprised her. “You can’t be nice to people all the time,” Carly says. “I thought when I started that I could be the one who figures out how to not offend anyone, but that’s almost impossible. Especially when you have a team that you have to go to bat for every day. You have to be tough to protect what you built and who works for you, which is always a scary thing when you’re talking to someone who might be angry.”

Despite the fact that women-owned businesses are growing in America, there are still a number of stigmas surrounding female business owners, and Carly has had to face a number of them. “When you’re a woman […] there is an expectation that I’m the ‘good cop’ or that if I’m too tough, I’m a bitch,” Carly says. “There is always a balance I have to walk to best represent the company.” For Carly, it has been tough finding female business owner role models, although one stands above the rest: “Oprah. Definitely Oprah. She’s my everything.” Melinda Gates is also a huge source of inspiration for Carly for both her vision and her philanthropy. Despite recent controversies, Carly also cites Sophia Amoruso as a role model, since she was one of the first to build a successful brand from her home, which is something that everyone tries to do these days.

If you are interested in starting a business, Carly has a few recommendations of material to read. The Emyth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber is her bible (one that I embarrassingly stole from her!) and Carly would recommend it to anyone starting a business or in the process of building their business. Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso is another must-read. And finally, she enjoys reading Live From New York: The Complete Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as it depicts the messiness of managing creatives while also celebrating more than 40 years of success.

Over the last 5 years, Carly has helped see the company grow from her apartment to an office in a Dallas skyscraper. During that time, we have worked with a number of amazing clients, but five stood out for Carly specifically:

  1. The 2014 Extra Life Campaign
  2. Hattie’s Room
  3. USCRI
  4. FELN Annual Report
  5. Katy Trail

While there have certainly been some ups and downs over the last 5 years, Carly has learned from mistakes and has courageously led this group of oddballs to success after success. 2930 Creative wouldn’t be what it is without her!

Josh Duke is the director of content at 2930 Creative and is proud to be one of the oddballs Carly manages.

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