By: Amanda Watson
The late part of summer always brings strong emotions for me. Every year, I reflect with gratitude on the journey that brought to the forming and functioning of Atlas Strategic Communications. It has been a trip. While looking back on four years in business is likely not nearly as profound to anyone else like it is to me, I know that being a business owner during the pandemic was a unique struggle for each of us who share this space. Making it to this anniversary after the past year feels like a greater, more sobering, more responsibility-laden milestone. We’re here. And, while the pandemic rages on and we find ourselves once again in the belly of the beast, I feel more resilient and determined than ever. As such, this anniversary feels more important than ever.
Until I owned a company, I didn’t know the weight that entrepreneurs carry. It’s almost a nagging torment to keep pushing, to deliver, to excel, to innovate and do more and better so that you don’t let your clients, your team, your community and yourself down. That weight is something we collectively share as business owners. During the last year, some of us had a significantly lighter load on our shoulders and some had an extraordinarily heavy load brought on by forces outside our control.
I feel a profound sense of kinship with local business owners that maybe wasn’t as strong as it was before the pandemic. The ones who made the difficult choice to call it. The ones who made the difficult choice to brave it. The ones who thrived. The ones had no choice at all. Now, as we face an unknown future economically, I am simply grateful for the past four years and having made it at all.
Employers everywhere were reminded of their greatest asset this past year – their employees. I hate that term, though. Calling an employee an asset commoditizes a human person with nuance and a soul. The very people business owners spend a great deal of their time with, befriend and count on in numerous ways.
Atlas stayed lean during our early years as we navigated the inevitable bumps synonymous with being a startup. As we found a rhythm and began to excitedly eye talented public involvement, PR and public affairs professionals, the pandemic descended. No matter, we added to our team and adapted in 2020. I saw what the power of the collective team attitude, the willingness to be flexible and open dialogue can do for a small agency. I saw grit and perseverance that defines our culture today. While it might seem obvious, the people who you hire and work alongside make up your brand—it’s important that they are a good match.
For clients and customers…
Finally, four years in and I look at the list of projects and clients that we’ve worked on, are working on or will soon get to work on and I am simply proud. Working on issues that matter to our community and doing it in a way that is invigorating, interesting and challenging has always been my dream. Most importantly, local still matters in Idaho. We are a small (yet growing!) firm and we care about our community. It means something when our clients recognize that in us and work with us because they can see (and also relate to) that spirit. While what – and who— is local is a debate in itself, I know that the Atlas roots are firmly in the ground four years in and we are so excited about what is on the horizon.