Jody Veldkamp
Center Grove Newsletter
October 2012

Businesses start for a variety of reasons.

In the case of two Center Grove women, it was realizing they were better together than separate and so they embarked on a new journey over martinis and a handshake.

In 2008, Susan McCarty owned Franklin Printing and Erin Smith owned The Stitch Smith. The recession was taking its toll on each business. Declining revenue required painful cuts in staff, and survival was in the balance.

What do you do? You call a friend of seven years, arrange lunch, and talk about business.

Over lunch, they realized that in addition to being friends they needed each other in their businesses. McCarty could handle operation and Smith’s sales ability could boost revenue.

Erin began to train the Franklin Printing sales staff to improve their efforts and to sell the embroidered items The Stitch Smith offered. That summer, they launched a joint website, Spotlight-Strategies.com. That change in strategy resulted in amazing growth for both companies in 2009. Actually, they liken it to a miracle. Franklin Printing was able to rehire their graphic designer six weeks after Erin began selling; and The Stitch Smith rehired their production manager in September. At the end of the year, each company had record sales.

The success of the marketing partnership prompted Smith and McCarty to begin planning to merge the companies. On January 1, 2011, Spotlight Strategies began to operate as one company offering print, apparel, promotional items, and signs.

Smith says one of the keys to their success was forming a six-member advisory
team made up of local community members. Anyone who knows Erin and Susan
knows their passion for their community and charities.

Smith said, “I want to live and work in a community where people care about their
neighbors.” She realizes that means she has to get involved. The most recent event they helped facilitate, “Pay it Forward Johnson County,” raised $30,000. In addition to
community involvement, networking is a significant part of their plan. Smith stated, “Networking done correctly brings a positive return on your investment.”

Recently Susan and Erin spoke to students of the Ball State’s Entrepreneurship Center to explain what life is like as an entrepreneur. Smith said it was very satisfying to hear the students ask good questions. The number of students who are already
working on business development surprised them.

Spotlight Strategies helps companies realize that “your message matters,” no matter where people see it. They do more than just supply signs, logos, and promotional pieces; they help companies land business.

For example, they worked with a local company to develop a plan that helped them
win a significant piece of Super Bowl business.

Spotlight Strategies continues to grow. In March, they won the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce award for small business growth. They are quick to mention they didn’t do it alone. They appreciate all their customers who have been loyal, worked with them, and referred others to Spotlight Strategies.