With over two decades of experience across public relations, marketing, and communications, Silvia Mariani is a highly accomplished Chief Executive Officer. She possesses an in-depth understanding of lobbying & media relations, international marketing strategies, and digital copywriting for Web 4.0 alike. As the founder & CEO at MBH Making Business Happen as well as at Making Business Happen USA LLC., she has developed impressive business networks to help individuals break into global markets successfully with innovative companies providing specialized support services.
Tell us about yourself and Making Business Happen.
After a particularly trying period, I established Making Business Happen on January 21, 2011. Failures can provide us with the motivation we need to restart by allowing us to learn from our mistakes and capitalize on new opportunities. I have always felt a strong sense of entrepreneurialism, and Making Business Happen was and still is somehow a dream that comes true.
I really love the idea of being born and raised in Florence, one of the most iconic, well-known, and inspiring places in the world. Traveling the world and meeting people who would love to come here just once in their lives, or who spent a semester here as students, or who chose Florence as their wedding location is truly rewarding!
Florence is a very international destination, and this was somehow a stimulus to build my business on making “Made in Italy” go global.
I had the opportunity to experience several professional environments and industries, and this really helped me to better understand myself, my soft skills, and my goals, and it trained me to be ready to run my business today.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?
I guess that I am a very reliable, honest, and consistent person. An achiever
How would your parents describe what you do?
Marta and Romano, my mother and father, are my best supporters. They have always invested their time, their efforts, and their generosity to offer me the best. I bet they would say, “don’t know exactly, but she is great at what she does!”
What does your morning routine look like?
I am a person who gets up early. I love reading and listening to the international news while sipping a cup of coffee, then I review my emails and drive to the office. After I have parked my car, I love to walk to the office, and I adore the silence and the sense of solitude before starting calls and hectic meetings!
What motivated you to start Making Business Happen? How did the idea come about?
My primary motive for starting “Making Business Happen” was to be completely autonomous, as I had never been in control of my own business in the past. Of course, this entails taking full responsibility, but it’s also really inspiring.
We all know that progress occurs when you step outside of your comfort zone, and that’s what I intended to do. When I realized that Italy has much more potential than is represented in international advertising and that there are many artisans and incredibly passionate small business owners who deserve to be known all over the world, the idea to concentrate on promoting and expanding the global reach of Italian brands came to me. I recognized a hole in the Italian export market and made the decision to fund my venture. With a great deal of effort, the remainder was completed.
What was your mission when you started your business?
In opening Making Business Happen, my mission was to help Italian companies expand worldwide by supporting them while they built their brand reputation in foreign markets. I realized that Italy has so much more potential than what is advertised internationally and that there are many artisans and incredibly passionate small business owners that should be recognized all over the world. The Italian products that we see abroad are mainly the results of advertising from big companies that monopolize the markets. Italy is so much more than that, and most of the Italian products on the market lack one thing: passion—the passion of creating an incredible product. So that’s why our mission is to help 100% of small companies get the recognition they deserve. By supporting them, we are not only supporting the excellence of “Made in Italy,” but we are also supporting the passionate artisans, handcrafters, and workers that are behind every product.
What do you attribute your success to? Is there a trait you have or a person who helped you along the way?
I think the secret to success is consistent hard work and vision. Every business decision has to align with your vision and purpose. In my case, I saw a gap in the Italian export business and a lack of companies that are willing to put their effort and energy into helping small producers. That became my vision, and the deep meaning behind the work we do gives me so much motivation to strive for success in unique ways. When dealing with small enterprises, there is never a unique method that works for all, so our way of creating new paths and new strategies for every case is what is bringing us to successful outcomes.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? to not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
It is always very hard to work in a very uncertain and unstable environment, and what motivates me to keep going is my deep belief in myself and my team. It is important in hard times to remain loyal to the company’s vision and analyze the environment to understand what is causing damage to the business. Rarely do businesses keep the same structure they had at the beginning. Most of the time, they evolve, and hard times are the right chance to keep evolving and maturing. In fact, what motivates me to keep showing up is knowing that there is always something to learn from tough situations, and we need to pick up the clues that will help create a stronger and more resistant business.
Employees are one of the most important players in the success of a business. What do you look for in an employee?
I am convinced that, before skills and technical knowledge, the most important aspects to evaluate in a person starting a collaboration journey are enthusiasm, passion, a desire to learn, and personal motivation. These factors are essential to creating a cohesive and future-oriented team. Then, obviously, expertise is important, but human craftsmanship is essential.
What is unique about your business? Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the others?
I guess it is the way we think and approach our clients. They are not just business partners, but they become part of a community made up of professionals that work towards the same goal. The relationship we have with our clients is very personal, and that’s what differentiates us.
Have you ever had a disappointed client or customer? If so, how did you handle the situation?
Behind every success is a great deal of hard work, perseverance, dedication, and sacrifice, as well as disappointments and failures. But I must proudly say that almost all our clients have expressed satisfaction at the end of the projects, and some, after a few years, have decided to come back to us to start a new collaboration together.
Is there a type of marketing that has worked amazingly well for making business happen? If so, how did you stumble upon it?
The best marketing tool that has helped us and the one that I always recommend is the old and effective technique of networking. We use, of course, new digital tools that keep us updated with trends, but I believe that since we humans are keen on relationships and interactions, old-fashioned networking is just the best way to advertise and talk about your company because it is real and it transmits people’s passion and vision.
Is there any resource or resources that helped you on your journey to becoming a business owner?
The biggest investment I have ever made in my business was the human factor. The employees are what make a company great, and I have always invested in young minds to keep the environment fresh and full of enthusiasm and energy. Another big investment is, of course, financial investment. If you do not believe in your business, then who will? So do not be scared to invest in your dream and your vision. My last big investment was putting a large amount of time into strategy. Businesses thrive only if there is a clear, defined plan, and most companies fail within the first few years because they skipped this step or didn’t put enough time into planning their businesses down to the last detail.
What are the three best pieces of advice that you would give to women starting a business? What do they need to know from the very beginning?
Today, there are more and more women doing business, with excellent results. The world has changed, and there are fewer cultural barriers than before.
However, in some environments, prejudices and obstacles of various types persist, so the best three pieces of advice I can give are to never let a negative environment distract you from your goals and your dreams because everyone has the capabilities to become a successful entrepreneur; what changes is the amount of hard work you are willing to put in. Another piece of advice is to have a clear vision of what you want to pursue and understand why your business is relevant in today’s world. Having a great business idea is the first step, but planning is the key, and it will likely determine your success or failure. So, don’t rush, and instead take your time learning about the dynamics of the entrepreneurial world.