“Because we can” – Susan Till
Rethink Media Group was just a pipeline dream all of 12 years ago, but fast forward to present day, and it’s one of the top advertising agencies in the area. How does something go from dream to reality to top agency? That answer is simple: you put Corie Royer and Susan Till on the case.
After years of dreaming of opening up their own business, in 2011, Corie Royer and Susan Till jumped headfirst into their greatest adventure to date. Discussions of opening their own ad agency had been prominent in both women’s lives. Having worked at the area television stations together, Royer and Till discussed heavily for nearly a decade just how much they wanted to get into business together. Susan recalls,“[We] had talked about it for about 10 years before we actually went out on our own. What finally got us to make the big move was a lot of change in management where we were. We were both fairly successful where we were working…so when the management changed, we went to lunch, talked about it again, and thought well, if we’re going to do it, we’ve got to do it.” It was at that lunch that the two decided to jump right into it, and jump they did.
Inspired by generations of other female entrepreneurs, Royer recalls how starting her own business came from a very familial place. “I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My grandmother had her own business. My aunt has her own business. My mom even sold her own Tupperware as a business! Back when those things were happening, I got to see that there were opportunities available to you when you own your own business versus not.” Corie also notes that inspiration really hit when she had her son. At the time Rethink opened, her son was 3 years old, and Corie knew that because of the choice she had made, she would now be able to be present for everything happening in his life.
Becoming an overnight success wasn’t in the cards for Rethink, but that’s also not what they expected. Till and Royer’s respective entrepreneurial spirits lead them toward the path they’re on now. Both, when asked, noted that their journeys as business owners have been nothing short of a wild ride. “We just started out as sales reps that started a business. We’ve had to figure everything out as we go,” stated Royer. “Everything is constantly changing, so not every day is the same. But the journey has been amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Both women agree that their biggest focus has always been, and will always be, what is going to make their business grow. Because of that focus, they have to stay on top of what’s coming in the advertising world, and adapt when necessary. “It has been twists and turns the entire time. We’ve been in business 12 years now, and we’ve reinvented ourselves more and more as times change. It’s been exciting and ever changing, and because of that, we’re constantly learning and evolving with the times,” states Till.
Through the years, Corie and Susan have worked hard to build their brand and their business. During that time, they’ve picked up a few lessons and discovered a few things that they find to be rewarding. One of those things is the simplicity that coming into work, to the place they’ve built, is still the coolest feeling in the world even 12 years later. “We’re not brain surgeons, but we’re still helping people in our own way,” says Royer. “I feel rewarded when I come in everyday and look at my team crushing it, or see my list of things I have to do get thrown away because something comes up and we adjust our plans. I feel rewarded in those moments.”
Rethink has also been rewarding to the women in the flexibility it provides. “The most rewarding thing is being our own bosses and doing things the way we think is right. It also leaves us time for family and a work-life balance that we didn’t get working elsewhere,” says Susan.
When it comes to being a female entrepreneur, the reward lies in pride. Corie and Susan are proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish in their time as female business owners. It’s not been without its struggles, however. Till recalls many instances where they’ve had to defend the fact that they’re women owning a business with one simple sentence: Because we can. “We’ve had things said to us like ‘So you two women are owners? Why would you start a business?’ and the answer was always ‘because we can’ and ‘why not’,” Till jokingly recalled.
For Royer, she’s proud of the fact that she and Till get to be a part of the change. “When I was growing up, a lot of the examples were men in business and men doing all these cool, different things, while the expectation for women was that they were to become nurses, teacher, or homemakers, so I grew up not knowing that there were so many options available to me as far as what direction I could take in life. Because of that, I think it’s important for women to understand that there are no boundaries, unless you are setting them for yourself.”
After celebrating 12 years in February, Susan and Corie are both very aware of just how thankful they are for what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve gotten here. That doesn’t mean they want to stop growing, however. When prompted with the dreaded where do you see yourself in 5 years question, both women answered the same: still growing. “We’re always looking at what’s coming up. That’s how our business has been shaped,” notes Susan. For Corie, it’s the old “the more things change, the more they stay the same” effect that she sees shaping Rethink in the future. She states, “This business changes all the time, even though it doesn’t change that much. What changes in advertising is the technology, and we adapt, but customer service and relationships aren’t changing, and we know that we have to put our focus into those avenues.”
When it comes to delving out advice, Corie Royer and Susan Till are full of it. When asked about the advice they’d give to fellow female entrepreneurs who are just starting out, both ladies were more than happy to oblige. Royer’s advice starts in the gut. “If you’re thinking about it, just do it. If you’ve got a gut feeling that this is something you’re called to do, then go for it!” She recalls the time leading up to opening Rethink when those who were closest to her were trying to steer her away from the decision to branch off on her own, but that undeniable gut feeling was telling her a different story. “Some of the most loving, supportive people in my circle discouraged me from doing this, and as much as I love them, I had to go with my gut. At the end of the day, you have to trust yourself and that what you’re doing is right for you.”
Susan’s advice to female entrepreneurs was similar to Corie’s. “Just do it!” she exclaims. “If you have drive and passion, then go for it! It takes a lot of time, so if you’re looking for something you can do half-heartedly, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re fully committed, just do it.”
After years of working in this industry, motivation can come from many different places. For Till, it’s the satisfaction of knowing that whether Rethink is helping a big client or a small client, they’re making a difference and helping a business grow. “Having a company that I can be proud of and having the reputation that we will help our clients no matter what, is something that I’m extremely proud of and motivated by,” says Susan.
Corie’s motivations are similar to that of Susan’s. She states “At the end of the day, knowing that we are responsible for opening the door, providing a place of employment, and providing our customers with services that are expected is what motivates me. I’ve always said that we are an extension of your business. When you succeed, we succeed, and that’s how we operate day to day.”
When the doors to Rethink Media Group opened in 2011, Susan Till and Corie Royer both had high hopes of it being the success that it is today. It took blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lot of heart to get them to where they are today, but they’ve managed to create something special. In a mere 12 years, they’ve created an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, where their clients feel well taken care of, and where women will always be supported.
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