When Allison Chaney, Founder & Managing Director of Bare Knuckle Digital, graduated from college, the world of digital marketing and SEO didn’t exist yet. She got her start right when websites were really taking off as a marketing tool, and the company she worked for threw her in the deep end to figure out how to get their site ranked on search engines. Google Analytics didn’t exist yet, so they created their own proprietary analytics software to understand where their traffic was coming from.
“I found that although my background was in marketing in the traditional sense,” Allison described, “all of those concepts still applied in this space. Even though a lot of the things I was doing were really technical, there was still that bigger strategy behind it. We were really ahead of our time, because we were looking for solutions that didn’t exist yet.”
She also freelanced on the side in social media and other verticals that the company wasn’t really working in. She found that an integrated package was the best way to get her clients found on search engines. “I really enjoyed the journey of taking a client from having no idea what’s going on with their website to using it as tool that’s driving the right kind of sales,” Allison said.
Despite having a job at a company she loved, like most entrepreneurs, Allison reached a point that she decided it was time to “take control of [her] own destiny” – time to move on to the next challenge. She left the company to freelance more and eventually start her own business.
She got connected with the SCORE Association who provided her a business mentor to provide advice as she started from ground zero. He guided her towards Bad Girl Ventures (BGV), which helps women-owned businesses get the education & funding they need to launch and run a successful business.
“At the time,” Allison described, “my business development strategy was: if I can get in front of people and teach them what I do, some of them will be able to walk away and be able to implement it, and that’s great. But some of them will realize they need this, but don’t have the time or knowledge to implement it themselves, and they will hire me.”
With this in mind, Allison attended a BGV meeting and met Candace Klein, founder of BGV. “I just thought, ‘Wow, this is an amazing woman,’ and the energy in the room was fantastic…As I was walking out the door I told Candace, ‘Hey I want to teach a class!’”
Candace told her to apply for the classes online. “No, no you don’t understand,” Allison replied, “I don’t want to take the class; I want to teach it!” But Candace saw the “Bad Girl” in Allison, and told her that’s great, but she should also sign up for the class.
Allison became the first person to teach the class and take it. Other classes she took through the program taught her how to get serious about starting and running a business, including how to approach a bank for a loan.
“I’ve taken lots of business classes since then,” Allison said, “but what really made this different was just the energy in the room. It was so powerful. All these women were there to encourage each other, do business together, help each other. You can’t fabricate that – it’s the energy of the right people in the right place. The first time I really knew I was onto something was when Candace and I were having lunch, and she looked at me and said, ‘I believe in you.’ I’d never had anyone look me in the eye and say that to me. And I believed she believed in me. And that was powerful.”
At the end of the BGV program, the candidates compete for a business loan. There was another woman in the class that had a product that saved lives. “I remember we were all sitting there at 4 a.m. the night before the final decision. We were all emailing each other saying that she’s saving lives – she’s the one that deserves to win. We’ll figure it out later, but she needs this money. I just remember thinking how cool it was that we were all competing for the same things, but we’re all pulling for her. That’s a beautiful thing.”
That woman won, and now has a thriving, successful business affecting the lives of so many people.
But Allison still got her loan. Through the BGV classes, and the support from Candace and all the women, Allison gained the confidence to put herself out there and go for it.
“I never in a million years thought I could go to a bank and ask for a loan.” Allison said. But taking the BGV classes totally changed her mindset. She used her new confidence with Candace in her mind saying, “I believe in you.” She went to a bank for a loan, and got it. Bare Knuckle Digital was born.
Check back next week to find out how Allison and Bare Knuckle Digital became a part of Red212!