Can You Really Have It All?October 18, 2007 9:11 pm Business Success, For Women Only
I like what Maria Shriver had to say about having it all. She said you can have it all, but not all at once. I think having it all is a matter of pacing and timing, and it can happen. Mastering the art of pacing can be a challenge. To me, having it all means I am surrounded by a wonderful family, have meaningful and rewarding work to do that contributes to others’ success and my own, and have time and money to enjoy life and relax. Running at my current pace, time for relaxation is in short supply. My friends and colleagues at www.workingwithpower.com tell me that I can get more done if I step away from the desk and take better care of myself. That is the one area in my life where I could use a boost because there is always just so much to do.
Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago with some of the lessons I learned during the first five years of doing business. I hope you enjoy it and gain some value from it.
Starting my own public relations and marketing communications business in February of 2001 was among the most hopeful, optimistic things I have ever done in my life.
Before becoming a parent in 1997 and electing to stay home for a year with my son, I held a variety of corporate marketing management positions. I was used to making big decisions and influencing big outcomes That is why I grew weary of managing the expense side of the household equation only to find that the generic brand of wheat crackers didn’t compare to Nabisco® brand Wheat Thins in terms of taste or value for the money.
I was restless with my professional skills on the shelf. That’s why I decided to apply my talent and passion for corporate storytelling and media relations to influence the revenue side of the household money equation. And I wanted to earn money to buy better groceries.
To refresh my publicity and copywriting skills after an extended bout with post-partum depression, I took great classes at the School of Visual Concepts and sold myself to a few quality clients as a freelance copywriter and publicist. When I was ready for more steady work, I landed a ¾ time job at a small PR agency. Still, I longed for my independence and greater influence to choose my clients and projects. I left the job to pursue “high touch” assignments as opposed to the “high tech” assignments that were a big part of my prior agency gig.
My first clients turned were fine grocery and specialty food retailers, including Fran’s Chocolates Ltd, Oh Boy Oberto Sausage Company and TalkingRain Beverage Company. These associations made it possible for me to elevate their brands while enjoying their products at home. My business quickly expanded to include a wide range of professional and creative service firms and some of our region’s finest banks.
Today my agency is a thriving corporation, and I am too busy to cook. I run a lean shop. We focus on delivering great value and impact, while minimizing expenses. Our intention is to do the best work of our lives and pack a punch for each client’s investment in our services.
On my path from desperate housewife to diva of publicity, I’ve learned some powerful lessons that might be useful to those thinking of launching businesses of their own.
- Recognize the power in this most concise advice: Happy wife, happy life. Some women are happy as stay-at-home moms. Not me. Finding a way to use my writing and influence skills for profit was my path toward the “happy wife, happy life” ideal.
- Figure out a way to spend 80% or more of your time doing work you are passionate about. Storytelling has always been a passion, and that is the foundation of my efforts every day.
- Price your services right. That means believing in the value and finding the courage to charge market appropriate fees.
- Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself only with those who lift you higher.” Observe and learn from the success of others. Choose your clients, employees, and vendor partners carefully.
- Show and demonstrate your passion. It is contagious, and it is the most persuasive tool you have to attract quality clients to your care.
- Don’t sell. Tell. That means being generous with your expertise in a general way so prospects will learn enough about the value you offer to engage your expertise to solve their very real and specific pain. Pain killers sell a whole lot better than vitamins.
- Image counts. Build a personal brand. Pay attention to your wardrobe. Craft a winning elevator speech. Speak with polish and authenticity. Build a winning Web site. Launch an e-newsletter. Write for the media. Speak at conferences. These elements join together to say something powerful about who you are, what you stand for, and the value you bring. Prospects will either nod “yes” or “no” based on the detailed picture you paint, so pay attention and tell a winning story.
- Take genuine interest in the success of others and how you can apply your proven, proprietary skills to advance their success. Their success is your success.
- Have fun. Make money. One without the other isn’t good enough.
Otherwise, go back to being an employee because it is much easier.
If I could emerge from the sleep-deprived depths of post-partum depression to build a thriving business out of a desire to buy better groceries, what other rewards are waiting for those with the passion to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams?
My son Kyle is now ten years old. He proudly introduces me to his playmates as the president of her own company. He and I talk a lot about why it is important to do what you love so you never have to work a day in your life. That’s a powerful truism for folks of any age. All this is to say that the payoffs for following your bliss are priceless. If it’s time to take that step, you know it. Best wishes for the journey ahead, and thanks to everyone who has given me the opportunity to do what I love for love, money, and better groceries.