This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Aaron Cromwell – One Wild Voice
Describe your business.
Many businesses never promote how remarkable their brand is and miss an opportunity to make something incredible. With the missed opportunity, we lose something precious for our community. One Wild Voice helps define and promote a business’ unique strength, then strategically manage that promotion for the business, including all marketing and advertising, from media buy to creative.
With a growing brand and more time to do what they do best, entrepreneurs will build something that creates opportunity for our children and strengthens our communities for generations. Kind of a big vision, but I like to swing for the fence. ?
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right now?
I’m very fortunate. I launched my business, full-time, in November of 2020. Before that, I was working in advertising at UCB Media’s head office in Belleville. I have been able to regularly work from home for the last couple of years. So, all of this is very familiar and natural to me at this point.
I have a designated office space in my house with everything I require in it, including augmented audio and lighting to improve virtual meetings. I have a comfy sitting space for when I need to time out. And my work can almost all be done remotely anyway. I could do what I do for clients anywhere in the world, quite frankly. So, in short… for me, working at home looks like a good arrangement.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
Again, this is a weird one for me. I adapted to the pandemic by quitting my job, giving up my group plan, benefits, and regular salary… and launching a business of my own. Kind of a weird strategy, it seems, but it’s what I did.
At the start of the pandemic, I realized that no job is truly secure; and what’s more than that, no matter what happens, I NEED to produce in order to provide for my family. I asked myself, “Self… If UCB closed tomorrow, what would you do to bring in revenue to pay for food and shelter?” It dawned on me that, with my talent-stack, I had value to bring to the marketplace and that I could leverage that value to serve any number of opportunities for businesses in the community – outside of an employment contract.
I’ve had a vision of creating something “bigger” for the last few years, something that would grow the legacy of, not just my family, but the whole Bay of Quinte area. I saw the pandemic as an opportunity, of sorts… and I went for it!
How have you been supported by the community/your clients?
I have a great group of peers. I am a member of a community group called Select Referral Team, a community of business owners here in the BoQ area. They have been VITAL to my growth over the past eight years. The network, encouragement, support, traded business and example I’ve received from them have been PRICELESS. Shoutout, SRT!!!
I’m a big proponent of the Chamber as well. I connected early with the Quinte West and Belleville Chambers of Commerce, as I’ve seen over the years how much energy and passion they employ in supporting and connecting businesses in the area. They legitimately care. Also, the networking opportunities afforded have been very beneficial to my relationships in the community. Through Chamber events I’ve met some great friends and learned what drives small business owners in the day-to-day. I really appreciate the Chamber and what they do.
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation?
I launched a business! But that’s the selfish thing. From a community standpoint, while I see that some of the issues surrounding the pandemic may create a bit of division—political and policy issues, mostly—I think the challenges given to us have forced us to get creative. I watched business owners pivot like they were on tracks when it became clear that “business as usual” was not an option anymore. It was inspiring.
From a personal perspective, perhaps even spiritual, this has forced everyone to realize that nothing is certain. At the start of things last March, the words “in these uncertain times” were used so much, and it made me chuckle. Things were NEVER certain! It’s a tough pill to swallow, because it means that what we thought was “certainty” was actually “taking for granted.” But I think these challenges and changes have forced many people to see the need for gratitude. And more gratitude is ALWAYS a good thing!
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
I feel like I have little to say to business owners from a business owner’s perspective. But from the perspective of a branding professional? Well, I would say the following:
The train keeps rolling. And you must do and say something. So, WHEN (not if) you communicate with your community, do it in a way that promotes what you care about. Don’t just “sell stuff.” Do your best to CONNECT with people on a personal level. Think about what is TRULY most important to you, then carry out your business through that lens in everything you do and say.
If you do it right, your messaging will not only grow/ sustain your business, it will be a source of encouragement for others. And encouragement is the best thing your business can offer right now!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I already talk too much… I’ll just shut up. Be kind, everyone!
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work.