The ripple effect of believing in others


Twenty-two years ago, I wrote a business plan for starting my own company. I sat on that plan for a full year while I sought out advice, studied the market, and mustered enough courage to take action by launching the business in March 2003. In my very first column for this paper, I shared some of my motivations for starting the business. Looking back, it’s clear to me that the entire framework for our success has been based on trust and belief. Remember what Coach Ted Lasso said about belief?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Belief is trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something. For purposes of this article, I’m going to use the terms more or less interchangeably. We’re going to explore trust and belief in four areas: Family, Clients, Team Members, and Community.

Trust within your family

The initial spark of belief and trust started at home. If you’re going to start a business, it’s essential for your family to be on board. My wife Mary Catherine believed that I could pull this off. It wasn’t easy giving up a high salary with benefits to start a business with no guarantee of success. In hindsight, I think it was even harder on Mary Catherine. We had a young family at the time. At least I knew what I was potentially capable of doing. She had to believe in my belief in myself. The trust she placed in me created a positive reinforcement cycle that inspired me. Once inspired, it motivated me to action, which also reinforced her beliefs—creating a flywheel of positive motivation.

Trust from clients

Once inspired by Mary Catherine’s belief in me and what I aspired to do, my primary job was to get new clients to believe in me and my capabilities as a solo entrepreneur. Judge David “DR” Moore of Peachtree Law Group was my very first customer during our first month in business. We knew “DR” from Church, as he taught all three of my children Sunday School. I remember telling him a little bit about my business one Sunday, and he said, “Joe, I’m not sure what all of that means, but I trust you. You’re hired. What’s next?” Last summer, he came to our 20th Anniversary party. Recently, it was my honor to attend the 40th Anniversary party for his law firm. DR’s taking a chance on me opened doors that I never imagined possible.

Joe and Mary Catherine Domaleski with Judge David "DR" Moore. DR was my first client 21 years ago. Thanks for believing in us. Photo/Joe Domaleski
Joe and Mary Catherine Domaleski with Judge David “DR” Moore. DR was my first client 21 years ago. Thanks for believing in us. Photo/Joe Domaleski

Helping nonprofits has never been much of a money-maker for us, but it’s been a passion of mine since starting the business. I believe in the importance of community and helping those that help others. My first two nonprofit clients were The Real Life Center, under the leadership of Cathy Berggren, and the Peachtree City Running Club. Both organizations trusted me to build their websites. They believed I could do it despite my nonexistent portfolio of clients. In turn, I believed they were worthy organizations that could benefit from my services. Even though I should have been chasing higher-dollar accounts at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. It was, and both organizations are still clients today. Not only that, but they’ve both been great sources of referral business over the years, which is more important than money to a small business.

“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if people trust you, they will do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar

Despite what anyone will tell you, to be successful in business, you need to be where people are. You can’t sit at home and hope people come to you. Being with people, learning from people, helping others, and being an active participant in the community helps inspire trust from others. Hearing what you do is good, but showing others what you’re capable of builds trust. Over time, word gets out, and people will come to you because they trust who you are and trust the word of others who’ve referred business to you.

One of our most long-standing clients is The Citizen Newspaper. Thank you, Cal and Joyce, for believing in me. Thanks to all of the current and former clients who’ve trusted in our business and believed in me personally. Your trust has kept our business going over the years. Trust from and with a new client means both parties are open to innovative approaches and fresh ideas. Belief in others is contagious.

Trust with team members

Within six months of starting the business, I had more work than I could do personally. I remember hiring my first contractor. It takes a lot of trust and belief in someone to delegate work to someone else. The delegate becomes a representative of your organization. In like manner, it takes a lot of trust on the part of the team member (whether they’re an employee or contractor) to work with an organization. They forgo other opportunities to put trust in an organization, knowing that it’s on the right path, that they’ll get paid on time, and that the work they’re doing matters.

A few years into the growth of my new company, I had the great fortune of meeting Vicki and Tommy Turner. They liked what I was doing and trusted me to run their business, AIS Computers. I merged my company operations with their established business. They believed in me, and that helped inspire some incredible projects and growth. Overnight, I had a large payroll to deal with and a great team to get things done. Unfortunately, the Great Recession of 2010 put a damper on things, and we made a joint decision to reorganize. Their belief in me was so strong that they helped finance my buyout of the non-retail business operations. Many employees went with me because they trusted the direction I was heading. That trust helped us chart a new course as Country Fried Creative.

Over the years, I’ve worked with some great team members. We currently have one of the strongest teams we’ve ever had. That strength is based on trust and belief in where the business is heading. Interestingly, as I write this, the job market has softened a bit, and we have more unsolicited job applications and resumes than I’ve ever had. I wish I could hire everyone, but our current levels of business don’t support that. If that’s you and you’re reading this, I just want to encourage you that there are opportunities out there. Thank you for trusting us and inquiring.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working with new team members is our excellent partnership with the Fayette School District’s Work-Based Learning Program (WBL). For the past six years, we’ve worked with high school interns who work for us part-time, gaining important job skills. As a company, we believe in our interns and are very selective in hiring them. In like manner, they trust us to help guide them as they start their careers. Many of our interns have continued to work with us after graduation. We also work with college interns and recently picked up our first Master’s Degree candidate intern. These young professionals are eager to learn and grow, and trusting them with real responsibilities can significantly impact their careers.

Being on a team requires trust all the way around. We have a great team. Thank you to all the past, current, and future team members we’ve worked with over the years.

Trust in the community

I’m not one to seek out personal or company community awards. While the recognition is nice, my focus has always been on just doing the work. There are some very well-established awards that one can nominate themselves for, and that’s all fine and good—but it’s not me. Doing the right things for the right reasons is reward enough for us. Despite my reluctance to nominate myself or my company, occasionally someone takes notice of what we do, nominates us, and we win something.

Recently, it was my honor to receive the inaugural Rotary Business Leader Award from the Peachtree City Rotary Club. The honor was a total surprise and shared with the even more deserving Brent Scarbrough (Brent Scarbrough & Company) along with Pat Burke (Midwest Food Bank). The award itself says, “…in recognition of your business leadership with commitment to honesty, building relationships and fairness to all you encounter.” Wow! What a validation that there’s more to business than profit and dollars. Thank you, Rotary Club. Your belief in me and our company means a lot—especially now.

PTC Rotary Club President-elect Patti Kadkhodaian present the Rotary Business Leader of the Year Award to Pat Burke (Midwest Food Bank), Joe Domaleski (Country Fried Creative), and Brent Scarbrough (Brent Scarbrough & Company) on 5/16/24. Photo/Hollie Holder
PTC Rotary Club President-elect Patti Kadkhodaian presents the Rotary Business Leader of the Year Award to Pat Burke (Midwest Food Bank), Joe Domaleski (Country Fried Creative), and Brent Scarbrough (Brent Scarbrough & Company) on 5/16/24. Photo/Hollie Holder

You see, we started off the year on an uneven footing. Most businesses don’t make it the first year and especially not twenty years. We lost two key employees in the first quarter of this year and had kind of wondered what our next moves would be without them. Another one of our key employees had a vision for us to launch something new for 2024, and so we have. I believed in her new vision, and she had the trust in our team to carry it out. The community response to our new marketing initiative has been tremendous.

Being an active member of our community is an integral part of who we are. We trust our community leaders will do the right things to foster positive growth for the betterment of all. As a community leader myself, I try to do the same thing—I’m not always right and, frankly, am somewhat politically naive, but I do care about our community. Let’s continue to support local and especially small businesses.

Thanks to the Mayors and City Councils of Fayetteville and Peachtree City for supporting me personally and our business. At the county level, there are lots of people to thank in both Fayette and Coweta County. I’d especially like to thank the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, who’s been along with me for the journey every year we’ve been in business. I believe in you, Chamber, and appreciate the trust you’ve placed in me and my company over the years.

The ripple effect of belief is very powerful. When you take a chance on someone, you inspire them to do the same for others. This creates an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to take risks and grow. It’s a cycle of positive reinforcement that benefits individuals, businesses, and the community at large.

For me, the spark started at home when my wife believed in me to start the business. That spark caught fire as new clients believed in what we were doing and signed up with us. New clients necessitated new team members. People join a team because they believe in what you’re doing. The ripple effect of belief has played out into the community at large. It really has been gratifying to see how many businesses and nonprofits we have helped launch and grow over the years.

Believing in others creates a ripple effect that promotes growth, innovation, and a supportive community. So, take that chance, believe in someone’s potential, and watch as the ripple effect transforms lives around you. It’s changed my life, and I know it’ll change yours and those around you. Queue up the song, “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA. You’ll be humming that song for the rest of the day as you consider the message of this article. You’re welcome.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25+ years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. Joe is a recipient of the Peachtree City Rotary Club Business Leader of the Year Award for 2024. Sign up for the Country Fried Creative newsletter to get marketing and business articles directly in your inbox. You can connect with Joe directly on LinkedIn for more insights and updates.]