Erika Williams Bentley
(This is part of the July cover story on Micro-Business in Valley Business FRONT.)
Owner: Erika Williams Bentley
Type of Business: Graphic design
Founded: February, 2011
Total employees: 1
In December of last year, Erika Bentley lost her job and went looking for another “at a larger marketing or advertising agency.” She knew there would be a challenge and she also understood “the importance of networking, both in the traditional way and through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I began attending many local networking events and made sure that all of my social media sites were optimized to showcase my portfolio and professional experience.” While doing this, she learned new and invaluable skills.
“By a stroke of luck,” she says, “I met Janeson Keeley, owner of JTK Web [and a FRONT columnist], at a local networking event. It was a meeting that changed my direction completely. Janeson was the first person who planted the idea in my mind to start my own business as a graphic designer [and she] introduced me to Patsy Stewart, owner of the Social Buzz Lab, at a local networking breakfast, and a wonderful partnership was born. Patsy was just beginning her businesses, as well, and was looking for a graphic designer not only to help her develop her brand and Web site, but to commission for projects for her clients. Since meeting Patsy Stewart in February of 2011, we have partnered on many projects, including a very successful hands-on social media workshop.
“One of my greatest successes was a result of the hands-on social media workshop. One of [those attending] was so happy with the graphic design work that I did, that I was commissioned to develop the company’s entire brand identity. Since founding my business in February I’ve expanded my client base to over 30 clients throughout Virginia and Pennsylvania. One of the greatest challenges I have faced as a new business owner is people who want my time and services for free.