How to Scale Your Business on a Budget: a Q&A with Mailchimp’s Deana Thornton

How to Scale Your Business on a Budget: a Q&A with Mailchimp’s Deana Thornton

Deana Thornton is the director of commerce marketing at Mailchimp. She talks how to grow sustainably as a business and locate the right areas to invest in.

By Francesca Nicasio 16 September, 2020

Scaling a business is a challenge for many entrepreneurs, but it can be particularly daunting for small businesses. With many SMBs managing tight budgets, it can be difficult to discern how to invest for growth.

Deana Thornton

What should you spend money on? How can you minimize losses or risks? To answer these questions, we caught up with Deana Thornton, the director of commerce marketing at Mailchimp. Deana is responsible for the development and execution of marketing strategies that meet the needs of Mailchimp’s E-commerce and Retail users.

Deana also oversees marketing content that helps Mailchimp’s users maximize the value of their all-in-one marketing platform to connect 1:1 with customers, drive increased brand visibility, and increase sales volume.

Before joining Mailchimp, she spent over a decade in the ecommerce field, working for big-box retailers such as The Home Depot and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Check out what Deana has to say below.

What are some of the steps that bootstrapping entrepreneurs can take if they want to grow their business on a budget?


As Mailchimp is also a bootstrapped business, we understand what it is like to be the sole investor in a business.

In today’s climate, having an online presence is a critical component that small businesses need to sustain themselves and grow.

Mailchimp has made it easy and affordable to establish an online presence with our all-in-one marketing platform that allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to get a domain, build and host a website for free, and to build and track digital marketing campaigns in one place.

Not only do we provide small businesses with the tools they need to establish their business online, but more importantly, they can tap into our platform to drive awareness and traffic to their site and build revenue.

How can entrepreneurs decide whether something (e.g. A new hire, solution or software) is worth investing in?


The main thing that should drive the decision to spend or save for entrepreneurs is estimating the return that the investment will yield.

Especially for many entrepreneurs that might be bootstrapping their business, funds are limited and should be invested wisely.

It’s important to take time to think things through, especially for decisions with a hefty dollar amount tied to them. If an investment in a new marketing tool or campaign will help small business owners reach more people or stay connected to their current customer base, that’s an important spend.

Can you give examples of small businesses that have done some creative and resourceful things to grow?


In today’s climate, we’ve found that our users are finding interesting ways to continue to engage and cultivate strong relationships with existing customers while also increasing their brand visibility among prospective customers.

Patasbox is a dog subscription business that is based in Spain. We recently chatted with them and learned about two interesting strategies they recently executed to quickly pivot and adapt to their “new” normal.

Patasbox conducted a virtual festival that significantly grew their customer base, and they partnered with Ford on a new campaign to co-market a special edition dog box. Ford’s new car has dog-friendly options, like a washing station in the back, that made their collaboration ideal.

How can a tool like Mailchimp help small businesses scale on a budget?


Our mission is to empower the underdog. We understand that many small businesses are investing their savings into their business and have a limited budget to turn their dreams into reality.

Mailchimp’s all-in-one marketing platform is built to help small businesses scale on a budget and grow on their own terms. We have offered a freemium pricing model since our inception that is packed with several free, sales-driving marketing features. For more established businesses that are looking to scale, we also have paid plans that are budget-friendly.