Nicola Smith, founder of REBEL & REASON, creates customized, innovative solutions that help companies cultivate, unleash, and (most importantly) celebrate their inner corporate rebel to command marketplace results. A rebel since birth, Nicola sees purpose-driven rebellion for what it is: the ultimate entrepreneurial superpower.
A marketing innovator with 15+ years’ experience working with Fortune 500 companies, Nicola partners with business owners to develop strategically rebellious practices that discern opportunity in the midst of disruption and convert passive audiences into engaged brand advocates.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I was inspired to start my business because I believe that rebellion is a key driver of innovation and creativity, but society teaches us that nonconformity is negative.
I wanted to show people how powerful constructive, strategic rebellion can be, and how it can be a driver of positive change in both your personal life and your business or career.
I also wanted to create a female owned company that could give back to the community and help promote entrepreneurship amongst women and other minority groups.
Tell us about your business.
REBEL & REASON is founded on the conviction that disruption is a catalyst to opportunity, not threat. Where others see closed doors, we only see promise.
We partner with brands in every vertical to use creative problem solving and curiosity to develop sustainable internal cultures of innovation, inspiration, and intention.
REBEL & REASON can help your brand leverage cutting-edge technologies, identify emerging trends, and strategically defy corporate convention using results-driven solutions for long-term success.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Sign up for my newsletter on my website for my online training program.
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I started my business while still working at another job, so the first thing I did was take on a couple of very small contract projects to get a feel for the type of work that was out there and to help me iron out my pricing and internal operational systems (e.g. invoicing, bookkeeping, tax accounting, etc).
I used the money from those first few projects to pay for my business licence and to hire a lawyer to set up my LLC and develop my MSA and SOW templates.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Speaking at events, and in-person networking are my two most effective marketing channels, but as I launch my online course I am focusing more on social media, SEO, SEM, and email marketing.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
- My biggest challenge is that as a solo entrepreneur I don’t automatically have a team or partners around me to bounce ideas off of which can be isolating.
- My other biggest challenge is balancing my time between doing the actual client work and thinking strategically about the business and how to scale.
How did you overcome these challenges?
To address the isolation of being a solo entrepreneur I have proactively developed a really strong network of other entrepreneurs and business leaders that provide guidance, feedback, and support.
To balance my time, I try to divide my days into “Maker Days” and “Manager Days”. On Maker Days, I focus on working on client deliverables and tackling tasks that will move my business forward, on Manager Days I schedule all of my status meeting and networking coffees/lunches.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My mantra is that disruption is an opportunity and not a threat, so I try to keep that in mind and look for the opportunity that a difficult situation may present. I also try and connect with other entrepreneurs and listen to their stories of struggle and success, it helps to know that your situation is not unique and that others have gone through the same or worse and come out better for it.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The Rebel & Reason brand is edgier that most of our direct competitors which helps differentiate us in the market, but we also utilize a unique approach to creative problem solving that focuses on helping organizations understand and operationalize the value of constructive nonconformity.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Meet with as many new people/organizations as you can every week, even those that are outside of your industry or vertical. You never know how someone’s needs, skills or connections might be of value to you or someone else in your network. Make yourself a connector and it will open up doors.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Understand the value of your time as a leader and outsource smaller tasks like bookkeeping, social media management, scheduling etc. Many of these tasks can be managed with a contract or freelance resource, and it will free up time for you to think strategically about your business.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
- Upwork – great for finding freelance talent
- Canva – makes it easy to create great visual content for social with any real design training
- Venngage – really cool infographic tool
- Calendly – a great scheduling tool that syncs with your calendar and allows people to book time with you
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I listen to a lot of amazing podcasts like HBR Ideacast, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy.
I also read Harvard Business Review, Wired, and Inc. regularly. I tend to read 3-4 books a month focusing on a mix of fiction and biographies, but if you are looking for a great book on leadership check out Daina Middleton’s Grace Meets Grit.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning how to build the infrastructure of a training business and how to scale without taking on more retainer work or tons of overhead.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My primary goal is to get my online training program off the ground and to begin conducting my in-person workshops outside of the Atlanta area.
I am currently in the process of developing online course material and have been speaking with innovation hubs in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Raleigh and Orlando about hosting my innovation training workshops.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @rebelandreason, @the_nicsmith
Twitter @rebelreasonLLC, @Nicola_Smith22
Hashtags #rebelandreason #rebelsrules