Maggie Laton (MBA '07) carves out her entrepreneurial path
Successful leadership usually begins with first learning how to follow. But what about successful entrepreneurship? For Maggie Laton (MBA ’07), a similar approach was necessary; it was the skills she learned working in the corporate world that helped her create a successful independent venture. Despite common conceptions of the modern entrepreneur, Laton had no intention of working from her couch and staying in her pajamas all day.
“I maintain a work schedule and a sense of discipline that mirrors my time in sales,” she explained. “I make sure that I get out of the home office and meet with people regularly. I keep a strong network and my clients see me in action so they really believe in what I have to offer.”
For Laton, earning her MBA from Georgia State was the spark needed to set her career path into motion. When she began her program, she was working in sales and dreamed of ultimately landing in upper-level management. At Georgia State, she was exposed to case studies that showed her the point A to point B process of business creation, and she realized that the idea of tapping into her creativity and building something of her own appeared a much more fulfilling alternative.
“To be honest, it didn’t take long to realize that analyzing massive amounts of corporate data to find an extra 10 cents of profit was going to kill my spirit,” she said. “I knew I needed more.”
So she found just that. As the founder of Maggie Laton Marketing, Laton has established a successful, one-woman marketing firm. Her client-base is currently composed of several local businesses, from restaurants to retail to other entrepreneurs. She explained, “Most small business owners can’t afford a full-time marketing employee, but they still need to market themselves. I’m filling a gap for many who hire me for a few hours a month and in those few hours, I do what would take them a week, because this isn’t their ‘zone of genius’ which is what I call the area where entrepreneurs operate.”
This symbiotic relationship also gives Laton a platform with which to share her skillset with others. She helps business owners learn effective marketing and social media strategies and in return grows her own network, as her hard work speaks for itself. Laton views herself as an educator and a coach — a philosophy she developed at Georgia State and the she hopes will shape the direction of her career.
“I know a lot of very successful entrepreneurs forgo formal education and jump right into creating their dream company, but for me, I know the skills I learned in the classroom will ultimately prove the most beneficial. I envision high-touch, in-person work in my near future, and without my educational background in accounting and finance, I wouldn’t have the necessary skills to flourish. It’s easy to work in your passion, but unless the sales, investment and growth are there, it’s just a hobby.”
Laton is currently in the process of publishing her first book. She revealed, “The book, which I haven’t titled just yet, charts my personal struggles and the business lessons I learned through the process. For example, I cover the myth of planning. I planned everything and went to great schools, got good grades, got good jobs and made a lot of money. While I considered myself extremely successful, none of that fine-tuned planning completely protected me from failure — as I always imagined it would — nor would any of it ultimately be my direct path to happiness. I had to step off the ‘right path’ to find ‘my path’ via entrepreneurship.”