Whether your business has been around for 20 years or two years, taking the time to clarify your message about who you are can not only help you attract more customers, but it can also help you motivate your team to do great work.
The entire DreamOn Studios team recently went through a deep-dive mission, vision, and language branding process led by Decoded Strategies.
During our time with their incredible team (special shout out to Kristin Spiotto and Annie Mosbacher!), we unlocked how to communicate the heart behind why we do what we do and left our time together encouraged about where we’re headed as a company.
It’s not that the heart behind what we do wasn’t already there beneath the surface; we just needed help unlocking how to communicate it! By the end of our workshop, we crafted our first StoryBrand script and new vision and mission, which we will integrate into our strategies, communication, and goals moving forward.
Motivated by our new clarity about where we’re headed, we want to give you a behind-the-scenes peak into who we are and how we came to be.
We hope our story about how we built and continue to build our team and serve a need in our community will encourage and help you gain insight into how you, too, can find more success in your business.
10 Steps to Build the Foundations of a Strong Business
#1 Build relationships that give you momentum
While new businesses often start with an idea or a problem to be solved, they don’t usually take off without first building relationships with people that will give you more momentum together than you would have on your own.
Before DreamOn Studios came to be, Mason Geiger and Matt Deuel ran their own independent businesses. When they met in 2018, they recognized the added value they could deliver to their clients by working together.
“After years of operating independently, I felt like I was hitting the ceiling of what was possible on my own,” Mason explains. “The urgency for storytelling and communication through video wasn’t slowing down. So when Matt and I began working together, we were able to expand our services.”
However, while they could offer more services to their clients, they still found themselves hitting the ceiling. That’s around the same time they met Tim Early from Network Partners.
Network Partners contracted with Mason and Matt for video production. Impressed by their work, Tim Early recognized a need for more videos to communicate the stories about the businesses in their community.
“Tim had a vision for a video studio that would not only serve Network Partners but other companies as well,” says Matt. “Tim quickly became our anchor client as well as a great friend and mentor to Mason and me.”
Out of these relationships, Mason, Matt, and Tim continued the momentum around the idea of DreamOn Studios and decided to go into partnership together.
“Tim provided the rocket fuel to take the next step and build a facility to develop what was already in motion,” says Matt.
Action Step: Take a look at your network and identify the people who can build momentum around a shared idea or vision. You may be one relationship away from a great endeavor!
#2 Play to your strengths and the strengths of others
Knowing your strengths and skillset lays a foundation for understanding where you can deliver the greatest value. When you have shared values and know where you do your best work, you better know when to step up and when to delegate to others.
When Matt and Mason started working together, they quickly recognized each other’s unique strengths and how they could best work together. And part of the ease came in knowing they had a shared value in delivering excellence.
“One of the reasons Mason and I hit it off is because we’re both creative visionaries with a very high standard in our productions,” says Matt. “We both demand excellence, but there are certain lanes we know we operate in well.
For example, Mason is the creative spark; he gets a vision and captures videos and stories well. He’s the most talented shooter of the two of us, and he creates stunning shots and film sets everywhere we go.
But there were pieces of the work he didn’t love around producing, sales, and pre-production. Fortunately, I enjoy that stuff immensely, so I took on the producing role and a good portion of the editing.”
“Matt is an incredible producer and speaker,” Mason continues. “He can make someone feel comfortable in any scenario, quickly understand their pain points, and empathize with them. He knows how to draw out the story from the client while giving me space to focus on the technical and creative side of communicating that story.”
Action Step: Evaluate your life and where you find the most flow at work. Find out where other teammates find their flow at work. Then identify where you can focus more on playing to your strengths.
#3 Recognize your strength limits and fill the gaps
Knowing your strengths and the strengths of others is one thing. Recognizing your limits and weaknesses is another. If you can acknowledge your limitations early on, you may save yourself years of beating yourself up for not being where you think you should be.
This step takes humility and provides a fantastic opportunity to take your business to the next level by partnering with others who can fill the gaps and, better yet, find fulfillment there.
“Early on, Matt and I had talked about what it could look like to take things to the next level,” says Mason. “But the next leap felt larger than what was possible; it would mean getting well outside of our current level strengths and skills.”
That’s when their then-client, Tim Early, founder of Network Partners, entered the scene and fueled the whole operation.
“Tim approached us about coming under the Network Partners umbrella and taking our business to a new level,” Mason continued. “Tim brings the energy and big ideas that challenge us to continually think and dream of new ways to do things.
Matt and I continued focusing on creating and doing the thing we love most while the Network Partners team covered the finance and HR side. As a result, we quickly expanded our team and provided a broader service offering for our current and new clients.”
“Tim brings a wealth of strong business experience with him,” Matt continues. “He has over 40+ years of career experience in life sciences, and with that, he has managed many large divisions of billion-dollar companies.
Where Mason and I draw out the creativity and passion of the business, Tim makes the financial side of business run smoothly while also providing wisdom and mentorship to our team.”
Action Step: To take your business to the next level, identify the gaps in your strengths and skillset that may be holding you back. Look to your network—who can fill that gap and free you up to play to your strengths?
#4 Meet a real need people have
At the heart of almost any business is the desire to solve a real problem people face or meet a need people have. In the case of DreamOn Studios and the need we try to meet and the problem we try to solve, it may not always be that apparent.
As a video production and communications company, it would be safe to assume that what people need or want from us is a great video. While that isn’t untrue, when we dove deeper into the core behind why they need that video, we started to unlock the real problem our customers are trying to solve, which comes down to helping businesses thrive with compelling storytelling.
Through the StoryBrand process, we were able to recognize how to connect with the needs of our clients in a more empathetic, tangible way:
“At my core, I believe everyone has a story to tell; they just need the opportunity to tell it,” says Mason. “It doesn’t matter the industry, walk of life, or circumstances, we all can learn from one another, and storytelling is the most powerful way to do that. It pains me to see someone’s story go untold or, worse, be told in a way that damages them or their brand.”
Action Step: Beyond the products or services you deliver, at the core, identify what your customer needs or what problem they are trying to solve using your product or service. Once you identify the core problem, use it to empathize with your customers.
#5 Trust the process and know you can grow
One of the biggest hurdles in starting anything is knowing where to start. Often, if you have an idea and people around you want to support you, your next best step may simply be to step out and stumble.
You may never have all your ducks in a row or feel 100% ready. Instead, trust that you can grow along the journey.
“It’s easy to get stuck in the idea or dreaming phase when there are so many options of what it could or should be,” said Mason, “One tip is to start with the end goal in mind and then work your way backward. But even then, you can get stuck in overthinking.
Eventually, you must take a leap of faith and trust the process. For me, I focus on taking faithful steps forward, stewarding it to the best of my ability, and understanding that I will grow and learn alongside the company as we continue to grow.
Tim Early always encouraged us to ‘fail fast’. Failing fast means giving our best but knowing that we will fall short sometimes, and that’s okay. In those moments, we’ll learn and grow the most, and the company will be better for it in the long run.”
Action Step: Your next leap of faith may look like a stumbling step. With your ideas on the table and your support system around you, identify the next small step you may be afraid to take to get the ball rolling.
#6 Recognize the opportunity in an “unexpected” location
One of the questions we often get at DreamOn Studios is, Why Warsaw, Indiana? We understand the reason for this question because it is an unexpected location for a world-class, multimillion-dollar video production studio.
While that may be true in the eyes of major production companies in New York and LA, there is a lot of opportunity to build something unexpected where we can meet a growing need.
“Kosciusko County has endless amounts of stories to tell,” says Matt. “Our community deserves to have world-class production! It’s also a great base to operate from. We can do projects all over the world, and we can come back to our home base and continue production.
We can also fly people here to utilize our studio, all while having the benefits of small-town life. People on our team have lived and worked in larger communities, and there is so much to appreciate about the cost of living, great schools, and community we have here.”
“I’ve traveled all over the world and truly believe that nothing compares to our community here,” Mason continues. “I love traveling, experiencing new places, walks of life, and business, but I want to bring those ideas and concepts back to Kosciusko County and use them to help enrich the lives and businesses here.”
There are also a lot of benefits to our clients both near and far! By being in Warsaw, we can give our clients more affordable rates.
If someone goes to New York or LA, they will pay a premium for the same work we can do here in Warsaw. Whereas if they come to us, they can get the same level of expertise at good savings.
Action Step: Identify an unmet need or service gap in a community you care about. How can your business or business idea help solve it?
#7 Help your clients/customers win
When you focus your business on meeting needs and solving problems for your clients and customers, the better you can do that, the better their chance of winning. And when they win, you win too!
At DreamOn Studios, the better we tell our clients stories, the better they can communicate to their customers the value of their business, bringing them more business and helping them thrive!
“There are a lot of organizations that do incredible work,” says Matt. “Our clients are the experts in their field, but they often struggle with how to tell their story. So we partner with them and put a spotlight on their organization. Ultimately, when we can tell a great story for our clients, they are the real heroes.”
One of the best ways we know how to help our clients succeed is by starting with the foundation of understanding each client’s unique needs and not assuming a one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone.
Throughout the entire discovery period and production process with the client, they and their story are the centers of our focus. So we strive to ask questions and learn as much as we can from them about who they are and their needs.
Action Step: Get to know your customer by asking questions about the heart behind their business, why they do what they do, and the obstacles they face. Through listening and learning, you will discover how to meet their needs and help them win.
#8 Hire people who align with your values
Having the right people on your team to carry your mission forward is vital to your success, especially if you want to take your vision to the next level.
For DreamOn Studios, as we grow as a team, we know we not only need to hire specific skill sets, but we also need to make sure we hire people who align with our values.
“Some of the biggest things I look for in a teammate is someone who is a problem solver, eager to learn, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and knows how to have fun,” says Mason. “I also want to know they’re not scared to take on something outside their comfort zone. But most importantly, I want to know they’re willing to go the extra mile for our clients.”
“We’re pretty selective about finding the right people for our team,” Matt continues. “Mason and I have worked in many different environments and various teams. We know what it means to have amazing team members who make the production fun and run smoothly, and we know what it means to have people who are the opposite, who work hard, but maybe are hard to work with.
We must hire people who don’t have a huge ego and who lead with humility. They know what it means to be open-minded with their ideas and collaborate. You have to find people that share your core values and share a passion for the vision and mission. Otherwise, you’ll fight exhausting battles, and people on your team will be doing work they’re not interested in.”
Through the Decoded Strategies process, our team identified the values that make DreamOn Studios unique, which include:
Communicating early and often, asking for feedback, and celebrating wins.
Being a brand ambassador with a personalized touch point with the community daily.
Planning and fueling yourself for tomorrow.
Seeking opportunities to create and learn through collaboration.
“The most important piece of growing a strong business is servant leadership and hiring team members with servant’s hearts,” says Tim Early, CEO of DreamOn Group.
“DreamOn Studios is extremely fortunate to have outstanding servant leadership in both Mason Geiger and Matt Deuel. Together, they are building one of the most talented teams providing video production and services. Clients continue to comment on their outstanding service and willingness to go above and beyond expectations.”
Action Step: Identify your needs, where you need to grow, your values, and what would help you be more efficient in serving your customers/clients and work toward hiring for that.
#9 Prioritize your team culture
The cultural health of your business can make or break your success. You may have the best people on your team, but if you don’t prioritize building into them, your product or service will suffer—and your clients will not get the best possible service.
This is why DreamOn Studios prioritizes building into our team culture. “We’re hard workers who are constantly growing and learning, but we know how to have fun along the way,” says Mason.
“I hope that everyone finds DreamOn Studios a great place to work, where we do excellent work and strive to be the best at what we do,” says Matt. “We demand excellence, but at the same time, we reward that excellence, and we look for ways to inspire our team and make this journey worth it.”
Some of the activities we do to build culture include:
Eating meals together
Hosting team-building days
“Communication is a really important value to us,” Matt continued. “We want to communicate early and often. We don’t want people to operate on an island or in a vacuum. We want people to ask questions, push back, and seek clarity. We don’t want people to run in a certain direction where they must be reeled back—we want to journey together.”
To promote communication, we install regular touchpoints throughout the week:
Daily morning standing meetings to hear what everyone is working on and how we can support each other.
Daily afternoon standing meetings to check in and support each other on closing out the day or setting ourselves up well for the next day.
Monday production meetings to review our processes for the week.
Friday afternoon meetings where we celebrate that week’s successes.
Action Step: Based on your core values, identify the activities you can build into your weekly rhythm to promote the culture you aspire to.
#10 Clarify your message
Clarifying your message about who you are and what you deliver to your customers or clients is a great step to attract more business and a great way to gain alignment internally and motivate your team.
When DreamOn Studios went through the Decoded Strategies process, it was a game changer for us.
“As a new business, it’s important to ask questions to discover your why and clarify your message,” says Tim.
Some of those questions include:
What problem are you solving?
Is your idea scalable? If so, how quickly can you scale your idea/company?
How can you attract the right people with complementary skill sets to grow a strong business?
How is your strategy differentiated?
How can you drive flawless execution?
Have you secured plenty of capital to weather the storms?
“Going through the Decoded Strategies process and having something we can look at daily to ensure that we’re aligned and moving in the same direction is a huge confidence builder for myself and the team,” says Mason.
“There is a new sense of urgency in our office. We’re more focused and driven than ever before and are excited about what the future holds for our company, our client’s companies, and our community as a whole!”
“My biggest learning from the process was just how important it is to carve out time to do that kind of work,” says Matt. “We do great work for our clients, and we do a great job of telling our clients’ stories, but we don’t always do the best job of focusing on and working on our own story.
So it was helpful to collaborate and examine the language behind who we are as a company and how we present ourselves to the world. It was so valuable to be there with the entire team and hear everyone lend their voice to the process. It brought us together and helped us walk away with clarity about who we are and what we’re about.”
With a clear message, we are actively working toward clarifying our presentations, proposals, website, and communications overall.
Action Step: We highly recommend contracting with a StoryBrand guide to walk you through the process of clarifying your message for your business. We definitely enjoyed our time with the guides at Decoded Strategies and couldn’t recommend them enough!
Bonus Tip: Lean into mentors and outside wisdom
Our business would not have been possible without the valuable support of the advisors and mentors along the way, our biggest advocate being our friend Tim Early.
“The key is finding people who believe in you and your vision and want to help champion that vision,” says Mason. “Tim is more than an investor. He’s truly a mentor and guide.”
“As an entrepreneur thinking about making a significant investment, some key attributes one looks for include honesty, trustworthiness, grit, perseverance, expertise in their field, coachability, passion, and servant leadership, to name a few,” says Tim.
“Without question, Mason and Matt demonstrated these characteristics to an extremely elevated level of professionalism. They are an overall absolute pleasure to work with every day, and I’m honored to provide guidance and mentorship.”
Action Step: Seek advice when you feel stuck (and even when you don’t!). You may not even realize the advocates already within the network that would be honored to support you and your vision!
In summary, we hope some of these tips help you lay the foundation for a strong business!
Build relationships that give you momentum.
Play to your strengths and the strengths of others.
Recognize your strength limits and fill the gaps.
Meet a real need people have.
Trust the process and know you can grow.
Recognize the opportunity in an “unexpected” location.