1. Please tell us something about yourself.
I am Dan Sondhelm, CEO of Sondhelm Partners. We are a company that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies attract investors, strengthen distribution and build brands through marketing, public relations and sales. Our clients have good stories to tell and want to grow. Personally, I am married with boy/girl twins and a Persian cat. I enjoy traveling for work and vacationing with my family.
2. How did you get into entrepreneurship? Please tell us more about your journey as an entrepreneur?
I was a senior partner at a financial marketing and public relations firm for more than 20 years. While getting my MBA, I started as one of three interns servicing clients for a financial marketing firm. I learned a lot and fortunately took on a lot of responsibilities. When I graduated, I stayed on full time as the first full time employee and shortly thereafter became a senior partner. As we hired and trained new employees to manage clients day-to-day services, my role expanded to be the face of the firm. I built strong relationships with strategic partners and brought in new clients. I also developed services and client strategies. We grew the firm significantly. While we did excellent work, built a great team and had great clients. I started Sondhelm Partners because I had a different vision for how we could help our clients grow. One evening on a business trip to New York City, I sat down at the Morton’s bar and wrote a business plan with help from the bartender and another business traveler who happened to be a financial advisor.
3. Who are your role models?
I have several role models among family, friends and business leaders. My favorite in the business world is Warren Buffett. Early in my career, I promoted a book about Warren Buffett’s investment strategy and read every page. I like him for several reasons. First, he makes sense. He doesn’t try to sound smart and his approach to investing just makes sense. Invest in what you know. Duh! Second, he has stayed out of trouble. He has integrity. Third, he eats his own cooking. He is a value investor and similarly he doesn’t have expensive suits or expensive cards. He is refreshing for a billionaire.
4. Did you read any books that inspired or motivated you in your journey?
I like Good to Great by Jim Collins. This book described how companies raised the bar on their own successes. This concept is important to remember for my firm and our clients’ businesses. It may not be broken, but it also may not be adding value.
5. Please tell us about your company
We have a great team made up of senior people who come from our industry. They know how to grow financial companies in different ways. One executive leads websites and timely content that helps clients stand out. Another helps clients with sophisticated digital strategies that attract leads and engage prospects. Our public relations pro helps clients develop thought leadership through news coverage and speaking opportunities. Yet another veteran has strong relationships with the gatekeepers who make decisions on which asset managers they will do business with. We are able to customize solutions for our clients, depending on what they need. We will continue to add expertise over time.
Beyond marketing, public relations and sales, we also help clients grow through mergers and acquisitions. Many financial firms are looking to grow through acquisitions. Others are looking to sell all or some of their firms to focus on their core business. In some cases, for example, even though the firms are highly successful, they haven’t had similar success gathering investors into their mutual funds or ETFs. The industry is consolidating and we have become a “matchmaker” for financial firms.
6. What’s your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?
I remember when I first posted my new business on LinkedIn. It seemed like hundreds of professionals that I knew (and didn’t) took the time to comment, like, and send personal emails showing their support. Some telephoned me and one mailed a hand-written personal note plus the word “Congratulations!” to my house. Classy!
7. Are you using any online marketing strategies for your company? How are you using different social media channels to market your company?
We do for ourselves as we do for clients.We built a website wrapped around timely educational content. We have an ‘Insights’ page for our own writing and an ‘In the news’ page for our news coverage and announcements.
We then commit to writing content and earning press coverage regularly and each post to the appropriate pages.
We also use marketing automation software to engage our email list of clients, prospects and centers of influences who refer business to us. This software, instead of blast email software, allows each segment to get customized communications. It also provided enhanced analytics so we know who are the most engaged with our content. When it makes sense, I may call on these warm leads.
8. What’s your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
I’ve never been a fan of losing. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to lose, even if I know I gave it my all. So for me, it’s important to focus on the disciplined process, professional growth and having integrity. If I can maintain those things, I’ll likely lose less often.
9. Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you ever got started?
It’s not a straight line towards achieving your goals. There are ups and downs and lefts and rights. I can change my strategy or priorities quickly if I see they aren’t working. I can also double down if they are successful. And often, there are opportunities and challenges that show up. I can choose to move towards that opportunity or navigate away.
10. Would you like to share any success secrets that helped you in your journey?
I can’t share any success secrets or they wouldn’t be secrets anymore.
11. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love having client impact. That could mean helping clients find new customers, keep customers longer during challenging times, speed up the process for a sale, increase brand awareness or credibility, or open doors with introductions to really important people.
12. What keeps you going when things get tough?
I’ve been in a business environment for 25 years. I have seen the ups and downs and the ups again. Our clients have disciplined process that deliver consistent results. It’s important for us to do the same. I know that if my team and I work hard each day and deliver for our clients, more good things will be in our future.
13. How can people connect with you?
They can call me at (703) 597-3863, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dansondhelm/