This post is courtesy of greyzone Guest Blogger, Lisa K. Moore.
For over 15 years, I have worked as an inbound marketing strategist. I truly love the work I do, and had a strong desire to continue growing and stretching myself professionally. About a year ago, I had an epiphany — my job, or any new job, wasn’t a place where I could grow and develop to my fullest potential, or use all of my skills. Businesses have specific goals they need to meet, and those goals weren’t aligned with my own. I needed to forge my own path.
With the support of my incredible husband, I started building the foundation for my own business, and haven’t looked back.
Trying a new role on for size
The consulting “bug” bit me in early 2016, when I took on a contracting gig helping a leader in the outdoor sports industry to market a new product offering. The project provided me the ability to perform the marketing work I was so passionate about, while retaining autonomy and growing my skills. It turned out that I really liked being an independent marketing contractor!
I began to toy with the idea of a career change into contracting on a full-time basis. At the time though, the prospect of not having a steady paycheck made me a little uneasy. This uncertainty soon yanked me back into the search for a traditional job.
The times, they are a changin’
If you ask me, I’ll tell you that the job search process is broken. Many companies these days are fearful of choosing the wrong candidate, and it is reflected throughout the entire hiring process, with employers adding a dizzying number of hoops for candidates to jump through.
Additionally, companies’ talent demand is not static, with peaks and valleys over time. Many companies are now relying on highly skilled contractors and freelancers to fill that need. In fact, contingent workers now make up about 35% of the U.S. workforce, and are estimated to be up to 50% by 2020. Maybe this was where I could best use my skills…
Taking the entrepreneurial plunge
When I had the realization that I needed to make a big shift in how I thought about my career, the beginnings of a business quickly began to take shape.
After taking the plunge, there are some lessons I have learned, as well as some sage advice I have received from trusted colleagues:
- It’s okay (and normal) to be scared. As I was considering whether to start my business, a close advisor told me that the fear I was experiencing was similar to the fear of drowning — you’re supposed to be afraid. With the right tools and resources, you can overcome that fear and learn to swim. All I needed was a life preserver. In business terms, your life preserver can be things like a well-written plan, and a good team to assist in areas where you are not the expert (accountants, lawyers, professional coaches, mentors, etc.).
- Write a business plan. At first, writing a business plan seemed like a giant, time-consuming obstacle to doing what I loved, which was marketing for my clients. In hindsight, I’m glad I did it, because many of the elements in that plan have informed other decisions, including messaging for my website, my elevator pitch, and my sales strategy.
- Protect yourself. One of the surprises that I wasn’t expecting was my bank’s requirement for an LLC operating agreement. Without an operating agreement, there’s the potential for a lot of legal headaches down the road. The sooner you have a signed operating agreement in place, the better.
- Get your contracts in place. Other legal documents like statements of work and terms of service are also necessary. And if a client refuses to agree to basic terms of service, or sign a contract, it’s okay to pass on that business.
- Really think through your strategy for getting new business. There are many directions in which I could have gone to find new clients, but I made the decision to be targeted in my approach. You only have so much time and energy, so focus it where the impact will be the greatest.
- Be mindful about names. The name of my company now is not what I initially chose. When I discovered that I couldn’t get the best matching domain name and Twitter handle, which is absolutely paramount to branding my company, I went through the tough process of choosing a new name before I’d invested too much time and money.
- Showcase the past in a way that sells the future. I’ve done some great work for some great companies throughout my career, and I want to continue showcasing that work. I made the decision to continue highlighting all of my marketing portfolio, whether it’s tied to a past job or a current client. The key is to be transparent and honest with clients, while still spotlighting your achievements.
- Build a strong bench. No marketer is an island, and there are other vendors and contractors with complimentary skills that can help me deliver great work for my clients. Just as I build a network of potential clients, I also need to continually build relationships with Web developers, designers, video producers and others.
- Support comes from unexpected places. Some of the most supportive relationships are ones that I have forged since starting my business — particularly from other business owners. I think there is something to be said for having “been there, done that” and wanting to give a hand up to another entrepreneur. And if your network isn’t supportive, build a new one — lead groups and associations are great for that!
- Get over hearing “no”, and get better at your pitch. Rejection is a part of going out on your own and selling your services independently. When I hear the word “no”, I use it as an opportunity to refine my business pitch and messaging. This is also another area where lead groups are a good resource, allowing you to repeatedly practice your pitch in a safe environment.
If the traditional 9-to-5 job isn’t your cup of tea, there are still ways to do the work you love. Full-time entrepreneurship comes with its challenges, but I promise you will learn a lot and grow from the experience.
Bio: Lisa K. Moore is a marketing leader with 15+ years’ experience in increasing brand exposure and revenue for B2B and B2C businesses. She is adept at creating integrated campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences, and developing strategic, measurable communications through effective marketing programs. Lisa earned her B.S. in Marketing from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Lisa is an esteemed member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national honor and service society of Jesuit colleges and universities.She’s passionate about playing in the dirt (a.k.a. gardening), all things creative, cycling, cooking, participating in 5K/10K events, volunteering in the community and travel. You can find more about Lisa K. Moore here.