As the president and CEO, Jim Richards’ The Market Share Group helps consumer brands connect with fans through strategic sports and entertainment sponsorships and events by creating customized events and experiences that engage consumers and build brand loyalty.
It serves to drive results through a combination of creative on-site activity, social media engagement, and a full understanding of their clients’ business with events that can be the focus of a marketing strategy or an extension of an existing platform.
Like most business owners, Jim believes he’s got The Right Stuff.
“I believe I’m good at what I do,” Jim says. “That’s why I started my own agency. Sports sponsorships and experiential marketing can be complex. And we have a good understanding of how to make marketing programs work for our clients.
“[But] in late 2018, I realized that I was limiting our growth. I was so focused on excellence in our execution that I had become a micromanager with everything we were doing – and it had become too much.
“I could see it, but I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I knew we needed to grow – and I needed help.”
But, as fate would have it, Jim was approached about a merger in December 2018.
“I thought that may be the answer for us in our growth but in October of 2019, we ran into some philosophical differences and I pulled out of those discussions,” Jim shares. “I was back to square one. I needed to figure out another way to grow our company.”
Thankfully, Jim’s love of podcasts paid off when he caught an interview with Bryan and Shannon Miles, co-founders and co-chairs of BELAY.
“I was intrigued by the business and the idea of having an executive assistant. [But] I like rolling up my sleeves, [and] getting my hands dirty, so I struggled seeing myself as an executive – but I knew I needed help.
“Long story short, I decided to engage with BELAY and they connected us with Christina, my virtual assistant in late November, early December of 2019. She lives in Orlando. We’re in Charlotte.
And while Jim admits that he and Christina are very different people with very different life and career experiences, Jim says, “She knew a micromanaging business owner when she saw one.”
“She immediately identified areas where she could begin to free me up to lead our organization.
“We started slowly with emails and travel arrangements. She was very patient with me as she helped me loosen my grip on tasks that were preventing me from leading our company and working in areas of my strength.”
Progress and growth at long last. Then, a pandemic.
“Suddenly, there were no experiences for our experiential marketing business. Forty percent of our projected revenue disappeared overnight,” Jim says.” And the other 60 percent was in doubt for about three months.
“COVID-19 accelerated so many things in 2020 for me and the rest of our team, and [Christina] went from learning our business and optimizing my schedule to becoming a valuable member of our leadership team as we looked for ways to pivot.
“She quickly became our lead researcher, taking over more and more of my schedule and freeing me up to pursue new business and alternative business channels.
“When it would have been easy to cut her hours to save money, we increased our hours instead – twice. As a result, in 2020, we took our DOT number and our experience of being on the road and launched a logistics business.
“We bought four box trucks and started hauling freight [for which] Christina created – and now leads – the HR function for that business.
But Christina wasn’t done helping Jim grow his business.
“She wrote our employee handbooks, manages the employee onboarding process, manages our insurance relationships, and more. We also changed the name of our business and she has managed all of the filings and regulatory issues that come with that.”
“She is a sounding board for me daily as we continue to navigate through this weird time for us,” Jim adds.
“2020 will be known as the year that we finally solidified the foundation of our business and launched our logistics division. Our company is here today – in large part – due to the relationship we have with Christina through BELAY.”