I’m ready to dive into 2017 fueled by some valuable lessons I learned about running a small business last year. In 2016 I took the jump and decided to devote 100% of my time to the journalism, website content writing and marketing/public relations company I started back in 2008, The Communication Connector, L.L.C.
The lessons I have learned about operating a business also apply to my personal life, and I hope they’ll help others who are entrepreneurs or thinking about starting their own company.
Without further adieu, let’s say sayonara to 2016 and ring in the New Year with some fun tips!
1. Follow Your Passion.
I know it’s a cliché and it sounds like a corny line in a romantic comedy, but I’ve found it to be true. When I work on projects I care about and feel a spark of creative energy, I’m more likely to keep pursuing assignments and less likely to feel tired and frustrated.
I enjoy coming up with ideas for blogs, landing pages and newspaper stories, and my love of finding something new and different comes in handy when pitching a proposal to a client or editor. Though I’m hired by clients in a wide variety of fields, the common denominator is all the work I do involves writing, researching topics and meeting new people, three things I love!
2. Get Social, but Work some Old-School Style.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites offer great, free ways to market a business and find and reconnect with clients. They also make it quick and easy to tap into the latest news so you can develop pitches and story ideas. I love Facebook’s PR Pros page as I have found many great sources for news stories within seconds of posting a request for people to interview.
But don’t forget what you learned in elementary school or from your parents. Personal touches pay off. Send handwritten thank-you notes and meet someone to break bread face-to-face over lunch or coffee. These old-school networking techniques have helped me build connections.
3. Keep it Simple!
I’m not a brain surgeon so when I explain what I do to potential clients and editors, I keep it simple. I tell them I write newspaper and magazine articles, website content, press releases and any other written material for online or print outlets to help them share their story.
The goal is to educate and inform the public about a product, service or interesting person. If it’s on the PR side, I’m helping them attract and retain more customers. If it’s on the journalism side, I’m trying to help them get and keep readers’ attention (and hopefully increase the number of subscriptions!)
4. Don’t be a Perfectionist.
This is a hard one for me because I tend to be a bit OCD with my writing and editing, but sometimes it’s important to let go of all the over-analyzing and focus on getting the work done.
That doesn’t mean I cut any corners when it comes to making sure the content is accurate or skip last-minute checks for spelling and grammatical mistakes. But striving for perfection can actually get in the way of quality when you forget to look at the big picture. It can also keep you from taking action and keeping on schedule with your deadlines and pursuing new clients.
5. It Takes a Village.
Not just to raise a child, but also to grow a business. A great lead singer in a band can perform even better with awesome back-up singers, and a president needs a strong Cabinet to make good decisions for the country.
If you work for yourself, you don’t necessarily go to an office every day where you exchange ideas and cheer on your colleagues. You need to form your own posse virtually and in-person to generate support and camaraderie to keep you confident and energized when dealing with the challenges of entrepreneurship. Don’t waste time with haters, who criticize your decision to work for yourself.
I like going to the Society of Professional Journalists – Valley of the Sun chapter and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Phoenix chapter events, workshops and happy hours. I love meeting informally over coffee or lunch with other small business owners. Meetup.com offers lots of entrepreneur groups for networking, too, and I plan to check out more of them this year.
Growing a business can feel like a rollercoaster ride, with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. You can’t plan everything and there’s no rule book to guide you through everything you’ll encounter.
But if you have faith in yourself and your product, work hard, surround yourself with positive people and aren’t afraid to take chances, you can create your own successful business and enjoy the joy, freedom and financial benefits of being an entrepreneur.