I come from a family of successful entrepreneurs and had long-proclaimed that I valued stability too much to join their ranks. On August 12, 2012, I took the leap anyway — with a 5-month-old baby in a new city where I knew exactly two people. So much for stability.
My company, Intesa Communications Group, is based in San Diego, California. In seven years it has grown into a highly profitable, sought-after seven-person shop that helps well-respected businesses, non-profits, colleges, universities, and civic leaders communicate with confidence in times of crisis and opportunity.
I have worked for myself longer than I’ve worked for anyone else. It feels great now, but it hasn’t always. Seven years is not a long time, but I have learned a lot along the way, like:
- Put humans first. Remember that your clients and employees are all out there trying to do their best work as professionals… and people. Beyond office deliverables and deadlines, become a trusted and kind resource to your fellow humans. Your work will become a lot more enjoyable and your word-of-mouth business will grow.
- When you’re on a bear hunt, don’t stop to chase rabbits. When you identify and target your services, fees, and ideal clients, stay the course. Say “no” to leads who cannot pay, who want services outside of your wheelhouse, or who are just plain rude. Refer the rabbits to other shops, and keep tracking your bear.
- Hire/listen to numbers people. Let’s face it, if you’re starting a PR shop, you need numbers people on your team. Find operations mentors, accountants, HR pros, and logistics folks who can help you turn your superpower services into a supercharged business.
- “The Top” is a feedback desert. If you need professional validation to do your best work, that’s going to be hard to come by when you are The Boss. When good, bad, and uncomfortable feedback is essential to honing your craft, you’ll need to seek trusted clients, peers, and other mentors to provide praise, critiques, and accountability.
- Establish and live your values. At Intesa, we strive to be present, do our best work, build confidence in others, and leave our clients and communities better than we found them. These values guide all aspects of the business, from bears and rabbits, to work product and company culture.
- Prove your value every day. Ya know, there are a lot of people out there who can do your work. If you get lazy or comfortable, your clients will be lured away. Stay hungry. Give your clients and employees your best work every day, and they will return the favor.
If you read a lot of posts like this, you’re probably wondering why staples like “treat your business like a client” and “take risks” are absent. They are absent because they are on everyone else’s list, but they are still important.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, do it. It is a privilege to use your superpowers to serve people you believe in whilst making money. Owning a business is equal parts joy | terror | exhaustion | exhilaration, and seven years in, my professional soul would not have it any other way.
*This article originally posted via LinkedIn.com
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