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A Positive Attitude Keeps the Creative Strategy Agency in Business

Alfonso Santaniello is an optimist. When he founded the Creative Strategy Agency, a digital marketing and communications business, in August 2009, he did it despite the advice of some who told him the economy would never support his dream. Thankfully, his perseverance and positive outlook have paid off. But it hasn’t been easy: In September 2013, soon after Alfonso moved to a new office in Springfield, MA, to be closer to clients, his workplace was robbed. Someone kicked in the door and stole computers, cameras and other expensive equipment.

Such an event might have devastated other business owners, but not Alfonso. We spoke with him to learn what happened next and how the Creative Strategy Agency got back on track.

What inspired you to start your business?

It all started when I decided that my main goal was to help companies succeed through successful marketing initiatives. Passionate business owners have always been my inspiration. Helping them reach their marketing goals is what truly continues to inspire me every day.

How did you continue to manage in a productive fashion and work with your clients after the break-in?

When it happened, I called all my clients and let them know. I informed them some work would be delayed due to the loss of property and technology, and told them that as soon as things were recouped through the insurance company, we would be back to making sure their campaigns were up and running properly. Some clients offered to help, and some were upset. In order to keep the company productive, I didn’t charge some clients for the loss of work during those months.

Keeping my clients in the loop was the most important thing I did. This let them feel informed and like they were our number one priority. It was a stressful time; you have to be calm and surround yourself with a team of workers to help deal with clients and help you keep things running smoothly.

Speaking of your team, how did they adjust?

While I looked for a new location, I kept working at the old facility. But I let my team work remotely and asked, simply, that they keep lines of communication with me open. Once we were in the new place with new equipment, everything settled in the same way. We restarted everything as it had been.

Not panicking helped to ensure that I would keep the employees I had at the time. I maintained an optimistic attitude and made sure we were as productive as we were during the transition. I think this helped the most.

How long did it take to recover from the break-in? Any takeaways from the experience?

It took about 3 to 4 months before everything truly got back to normal, and to this day I am still missing certain documents that are not fully recovered. I would highly recommend using a cloud system to ensure that no matter what documents you have, they are always with you no matter where you are. Cloud storage would have ensured that the files that were stolen were still with me. I have learned my lesson and am a cloud believer now, moving forward.

Another important thing that helped with the recovery was Staples. They definitely helped me get back on track. I had to replace all my stolen property. Not only was the Staples Web site helpful in searching for products, but when I went to the store, the team was helpful in possibly finding better solutions.

What advice would you offer to other small business owners?

In life you can’t control all things, but you can control how you run your business and what you learn for the next time. Being proactive instead of reactive helped this small business owner keep his cool at a tough time. But of course, if you’re thinking of opening a small business, make sure to take all the steps necessary to instill the proper security on your property outside as well as in.

To what do you attribute your success, especially in light of your recovery efforts?

Support from my family and friends really helped to escalate my success. This support helps you on days that owning a small business is challenging, like those were. At the end of the day, it’s not the number of clients you have, it’s the number of lasting relationships you have with customers that will make the difference. Communication is what helps keep my business where it is, and learning how to communicate the best way starts with your own personal relationships.

How does your business make more happen? We want to know! Share your story with us in the Comments section below, and we might contact you for a future article.

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