First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Norton: Thankfully, we’re doing just fine. I had built a physics lab in my house before the COVID outbreak even hit. We already had the masks we needed just from the natural environment of me having the setup to perform experiments. Because our businesses are digital, we haven’t felt the same kind of financial pangs from the crisis.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OMI Firm
Michael Norton: I founded OMI Firm as a response to getting out of a currency exchange trap while living in China. I had joined the American military, then, upon an honorable discharge, I became an English teacher and secured a job in China. The pay was considerably upper-middle-class according to Chinese living, but just above the poverty rate across Western Civilization. If I wanted to raise a family, I needed to start a business with flexibility as I traveled. A marketing firm was the answer.
Throughout the process, the credibility of my name and services was paramount. So, I made sure to get a college education in marketing, as well as clarify specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based results for each client.
How does OMI Firm innovate?
Michael Norton: We innovate through the continual progression of training and education, as well as how we develop content, and for whom, as well as how we’re continually reviewing our own business model.
We’ve evolved from a simple firm doing small graphic design and copywriting jobs to taking on full-service corporate contracts on retainer, to actually buying into some of our clients’ businesses themselves. As shareholders in their company, when our marketing does well, the company’s profits do well.
When the company’s profits do well, we incentivize our own success.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Norton: We’re coping just fine. We’ve lost clients; however, with a simple pivot to different industries, we’ve been able to adapt quite well. We’re very fortunate because of that.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Norton: The most difficult choices I’ve made have pertained to when I’ve needed to work overnight to make sure my team had the hours they needed to sustain their families throughout this crisis. It’s easy with my personal branding for me to secure a client. However, it’s not so easy to secure a client with the demand for individual team members’ specialities that would keep them employed.
If I made a promise to my team to do everything in my power to keep everyone with some kind of paycheck throughout the crisis, then I have to figure out how to keep them employed, and this has sometimes left me feeling like I’m in between a rock and a hard place. However, with much personal sacrifice, I’ve managed to keep my promises.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and OMI Firm in the future?
Michael Norton: I deal with stress and anxiety in several ways. I’m extremely fortunate to have such a supporting wife; she massages me everyday, particularly in the areas of the neck, back, and finger-joints that would become stressed from sitting in the same positions for so long.
Meanwhile, when I find my motivational levels to be too low, I break down complicated tasks or tasks I have low willpower to complete into baby steps with adequate breaks in between each baby step. This will lead to a long workday; however, I still accomplish my tasks accordingly.
I also write while listening to music. The act of writing out what is stressing me out helps me to look at the issue critically. With that clarity, I’m able to make progressively wise decisions. My goal is to remove the source of stress first.
The future of my company is based on my branding plan, as it accumulates a multitude of back-to-back 5-star reviews. This also means that I’m building a series of wonderful business relationships along the way, many of which are return clients.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Norton: It’s difficult to say who my competitors are, to be honest. Marketing firms are plenty; yet, so are startups and other businesses that require assistance in their marketing.
So, I may have competitors, but there are so many opportunities, thus, I barely even notice them or even see how they’re relevant.
Your final thoughts
Michael Norton: Work hard. Work Smart. Work Wise.