Making a Splash

When Elysa Leonard quit her marketing job to move to Bermuda with her family, she didn’t plan to start her own business. But she quickly found that she couldn’t take off her “marketing hat”, and she started working for local companies. Before she knew it, she was combining her love of scuba diving with her love of marketing, trading dives for marketing programs. And Splash Communications, named in part because of her love of the water, was born. “It’s important to have a name that means something to you,” says Leonard.

Leonard likes to make a splash. After moving to Loudoun County, she was ready to do so for a big client. Then she ran into a problem. Her only full-time employee was leaving. She consulted the SBDC at MEC-Leesburg to help her formulate a plan. Her SBDC advisor, Eric Byrd, had her create a revenue and expenses forecast immediately. They mapped out a strategy to support the new client that also allowed more time for business development. Through a private loan of $10,000, Leonard was able to increase hours to her part-time designer to support the work on hand. She also planned to hire a new full-time assistant and start an internship program.

“There’s so much to starting your own business that has nothing to do with what you are doing for your client,” says Leonard. “Accounting, human resources, funding—it’s a big challenge, and it takes a different skill set.” The SBDC was instrumental in helping her meet that challenge.

The plan Leonard formulated with her SBDC counselors worked. Splash landed the big contract and began to grow their client list. They increased revenues by 225% in one year and currently have a staff of four full-time employees, three part-time consultants, and two interns who work during school breaks. Leonard and her team can help other companies define and expand their brands—and make a splash of their own.

Virginia SBDC