Courtney B. Riley is the CEO and visionary behind Proximo Marketing Strategies, an international marketing firm based out of Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Driven by passion and a calling to serve, Courtney leverages her talent for innovative thinking with a genuine enthusiasm for seeing others succeed, to help her clients find and pursue their true purpose while also providing them with the necessary tools to successfully position their brands in the marketplace. She is an active and appreciated member of her community, serving as adjunct faculty at local colleges, educating students on best practices for marketing in the 21st century, and serving on the board of several non-profit organizations. A published author and recent recipient of the 40 Under 40 and Woman of Excellence award, Courtney Riley has been called “One to watch in the marketing world,” by Authority Magazine.
With a decade of success behind her, Courtney now focuses her efforts on helping other entrepreneurs, CEOs and visionaries employ the principles of the Love-Centric Business Model to not only achieve success and fulfillment for themselves, their employees, and their customers but to do it all on their own terms.
Of course, more important than any professional accomplishments are the blessings Courtney counts in her personal life – her husband, Matt, teenage son, Dominic, and toddler, Bella. Yes. You read that right – a teenager and a toddler! Needless to say, Courtney knows a thing or two about chaos and overwhelm and practices what she preaches not only on the job but also at home, recognizing that living a life of love has also meant loving herself enough to prioritize self-care. When she’s not helping entrepreneurs thrive and build love-centric businesses, Courtney can be found soaking up family time and sunshine in the backyard, relaxing with yoga or enjoying a quiet moment with God’s word.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Gila to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Nurturing relationships. Right now, as the world struggles to navigate a staffing crisis and heavy turnover, I’m investing time and energy into nurturing the relationships I have with my team and encouraging them to do the same with one another. Loving people that love our clients have a beautiful trickle-down effect! I’m also keeping the relationships we have with our current clients at the forefront of all we do, continuing to cultivate those relationships, and exploring how we can add even more value. 90% of our new business comes from happy clients that see what we can do, and share the impact with other business owners and leaders that they know. The best part about that? We get more clients like the ones we have (and love!). It’s a win-win!
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Honestly, it’s pretty ironic, but I’ll always be a grassroots girl at heart. Cultivating relationships that already exist, and investing time and attention to those around me, has had the greatest ROI. I genuinely want the people around me to succeed, and I believe they feel that. Naturally, when people they know need to experience that same love and support, I’m the person they refer.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Facebook, Instagram, and (recently) TikTok.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Declining work. Good work, with good prospects, We are BUSY. And if that busyness gets in the way of us delivering what a new client deserves, I refuse to take them on. It’s tough when you support a team financially, and even tougher when the prospect is someone that you’d genuinely WANT to work with. But no amount of money is worth your integrity (or quality of service) taking a back seat.
How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I hate to say it, but it’s been a season of growth, in a big part from the impact of the pandemic. For years, businesses did things the same way they had always been done. Conservative entrepreneurs, who had once been innovative leaders, had become complacent. The pandemic shook the boat. It pushed people to embrace change that they had shied away from for decades. Suddenly, people that had watched my team and I help our clients take their business to new places, from the sidelines, needed and wanted us to help them navigate the changes they were forced to implement. In short, the pandemic shook the boat and made space for us to help people navigate the turbulent waters of marketing.
How have you adapted your business operations in response to COVID-19 and its associated impacts?
Fortunately, we were virtual prior to the pandemic, so we felt minimal hiccups in that regard. The unprecedented growth we experienced, however, took quite a bit of navigating. In fact, it’s still something we spend intentional time nurturing. We have weekly team meetings, quarterly (if not more frequent) team get-togethers, and even brought on a team member to help co-shepherd our team with me. She spends time in leadership development, and personal and spiritual growth, and acts as a safe-zone sounding board for our crew. Learning to love in a way that makes this team unique has been one of the most impactful adaptations our team has experienced!
What have been some of the most important lessons you have learned because of this pandemic?
If nothing else, the pandemic reminded me how little control we truly have, and how IN CONTROL our Heavenly Father is. I heard an analogy recently about a farmer that worked diligently on his land; tilling, planting, and watering his soon-to-be crops. Just like him, we are called to work with excellence in all things that we are given to steward, including our businesses, clients, and employees. We pour into them, invest into them, and nurture them with all that we have. But at the end of the day, whether the sun shines, rain falls and photosynthesis happens is not within the farmer’s hands. Similarly, after all of the hard work we put into our career tracks, God Himself has the final say on what sort of fruit they produce. The pandemic has increased both my faith and my resiliency!
What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses all over the world?
I hope people let their boats shake. I hope they embrace change as gracefully as they can, and above all else, I hope that they prioritize the PEOPLE in their corner. Their clients, their employees, and their families deserve to be loved fiercely, at all costs.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up a new business in this pandemic?
Surround yourself with a tribe of people that are willing to pour into you. You need people that will be brutally honest and cheer you on, all at the same time. Find the ones that have been in the trenches and are living a life that you aspire to have, then humble yourself and ASK. FOR. HELP. We were ALL where you are right now, once!