james-carThis week marks my 16th year in business.

Much has changed from the day in August 1998 when I walked into the Amesbury, Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce with my 14-month old son on my hip and a dozen business cards in my pocket.

Not the least of which my “baby” is now 17 and drives. Oy!

I grew my business the “old-fashioned” way. I networked. I sent out letters and follow-up with calls. I wrote articles for the local business paper. I volunteered for my trade organization.

In late 1999, I met this guy, Michael Katz, who invited me to be part of a newsletter networking group he had assembled. We’d meet quarterly at the offices of this company called Roving Software in Waltham — the company’s product was this thing called Constant Contact. It automated sending out an e-newsletter, which at the time, was the hot new way to market one’s business.

I met wonderful people and over time, work began coming in.

Then Google came into being. I taught myself SEO and applied what I learned to my own website. Inquiries poured in from people finding me online. It was rather amazing. Then social media came into play; as more people found me online, it seemed redundant to actually get out and meet people when I could foster “relationships” so easily from my computer.

During this time, my son grew up. Kindergarten. Middle school. Bar mitzvah. I’m still in a little bit of shock that week after next, he begins his senior year of high school. Where did the time go?

Yes, things have changed . . . but have they really?

So yes, life has changed. Business has changed. How we communicate has changed. I don’t need to tell you all the ways. You know already.

But with all this change, I’ve come full circle and finally understand what really matters — in business and in life.

As I begin my 16th year, one thing has become crystal clear to me: It’s the people who make up my business that matter.

It’s the customers who hire me and place their trust in me.

It’s the friends and colleagues who continually refer my services to their friends and colleagues.

It’s the people starting new businesses who call for advice — which I freely give, knowing I’m passing on what has been given to me.

My business has changed considerably since 1998. Heck, it’s changed a great deal in the last 12 months. But one thing hasn’t changed: My purpose, my reason for getting up each day, is to connect with others and to share my wisdom, expertise and yes, my joy and happiness.

That’s what really matters.

Thank you for a wonderful 16 years. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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