In 2012, 42-year-old Kristy Gusick quit her marketing day job. She had been working in this position for over three years and felt burnt out. She needed to make a change.
As months passed, with little luck finding a new job that would spark a passion in her, she sat down for lunch at her go-to restaurant, The Good Earth, with her good friend, Terrie Wheeler. Terrie had successfully started her own marketing business, PSM Marketing, and was a proud entrepreneur.
“Sometimes, I wish I could just work with you,” Kristy recalls confessing to Terrie.
“Well, why don’t you?” replied Terrie. That night, Terrie formatted an email to Kristy detailing different options for working together. And thus, began a 9 years and going strong business partnership.
“I threw the mud against the wall and, in typical Terrie fashion, she took the ball and ran with it. And that’s exactly how our relationship is- I throw out ideas and Terrie puts them into action,” says Kristy.
“I will admit that in the beginning I was well aware that there were so many business partnerships that failed, and I did not want to have a partnership fail,” says Terrie.
But, their commitment to doing something together outweighed the uncertainty that came with becoming business partners.
“I know it was a big leap of faith for Terrie to invite another person into the business she had carefully cultivated for the past 15 years,” says Michelle Wheeler, Terrie’s daughter and now business partner. “I remember how Terrie and Kristy spent hours and hours in ‘pre-partnership counseling’ to ensure the partnership would be a good fit for both of them.”
Essentially the equivalent of pre-marital counseling but for business partners, Kristy and Terrie learned how their strengths played to each other and what roles they would take on in their business.
“Kristy just brought this amazing energy. And what ended up being great is that Kristy had a similar background to mine, but in the financial services industry, and so, being a big believer in niche marketing we decided that we were going to just really focus on law firms and financial services firms,” says Terrie.
After a couple months of preparation and learning each other’s business styles, they had partnership documents drawn up. They created goals, brought in new clients and even licensed a new name- what was once Professional Services Marketing, Inc., became Professional Marketing Services, LLC, recently shortened to PSM Marketing LLC.
But, as they started on their new business journey, they were tested immediately. The firm Kristy had previously worked with sued PSM for hiring Kristy based on what ended up being a non-enforceable non-compete agreement. “It was a huge legal distraction and we were put under a bunch of stress right away. But, our relationship just became stronger. It’s like a marriage, everything that has happened to us has just made us stronger,” says Kristy.
And they haven’t looked back since.
Nine years later, and their partnership continues to flourish. Kristy now has many clients, most of which are financial planning firms and accounting firms. One thing that has stayed true throughout the years is her niche in financial service firms.
“There’s a million things I love about PSM, but one of the things that I love the most are the people. I love the people I work with, the people I work for, the variety, just the ability to impact people’s livelihoods for the better,” says Kristy.
Making the leap to entrepreneurship showed Kristy her passion for helping others achieve similar goals.
“I am very grateful that I took the risk, and now I want to give back by helping others achieve the same.”
Kristy also knows she couldn’t have done it without the support from her partners – and from her husband.
“I feel so unbelievably blessed, and undeserving. I will never be able to thank Terrie enough for seeing the potential in me.”