While Kristy Armand was director of marketing at Memorial Hospital in Lake Charles, LA, she heard through the grapevine that a large company was looking for a marketing agency. She called up two close friends, they brainstormed for a name, designed a logo and before long landed the client. Within a couple of months they had a few more clients and their entrepreneurial experiment turned into a full-fledged business.
"We just never knew it would grow the way it did. In the beginning I kept my full time job and we worked on it at night," said Armand.
Healthy Image, LLC, is now a full service marketing and advertising firm with more than 100 clients. One by one, the partners quit their day jobs over the years until they were all on board as full-time employees in 2008. Grown from spare bedrooms in their homes, Health Image LLC didn't understand many of the regular needs of a business until they experienced growth.
"We didn't know what kind of challenges we faced. We never started out with an office and employees so when we got to that point, we needed help," said Healthy Image partner Kristy Armand.
Armand eventually consulted with Donna Little at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State. Little provided financial analysis and helped the company learn how to interpret their balance sheets and profit and loss statements. She also helped with basic business duties that Healthy Image had skipped over because they were one-man operations founded in a home.
"We never knew about occupancy licenses, employees, workers’ compensation. Because we started the business without a physical location, we skipped many of those steps," said Armand.
In the course of a short period of time, Healthy Image has gone from a few healthcare marketing clients to dozens of clients in multiple industries. In 2003, the company also started Thrive, a health-related publication. Over the years it had grown from 10 pages in newsprint to its current 80 full color glossy pages with a spine. As the magazine has grown, so to has the need to effectively manage and operate two distinct companies.
Armand said they worked with Little to learn how to make the magazine more profitable and how to avoid making common mistakes. Through the help of their bookkeeper, they found ways to trim costs and increase productivity by restructuring commission schedules for advertising representatives. Armand said they also needed to learn how to carefully balance time and capital between the breadwinning Healthy Image marketing firm and the growing magazine.
"They helped us take a look at where the expenses were going. With running two businesses, there were a lot of things going back and forth that we were not paying attention to. We've reduced expenses and increased profit because of their guidance," said Armand.
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