Taking Small Steps Toward That Ultimate Goal
The circumstances that inspire PR professionals to start independent practices are often as varied as the professionals themselves.
Some have always aspired to be independent practitioners from the outset of their careers. Others are forced to take that path due to layoffs or family obligations.
When I first started my career more than 15 years ago, I never wanted to work for myself. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and I witnessed firsthand the ups and downs, the feast or famine. The financial instability and stress that can come in the early stages of starting a business just weren’t for me.
A family affair
Somewhere along the path of my career, my aversion to independent work began to change. I started to crave the creative freedom and the ability to stretch my professional wings. That craving intensified when I married into a family of successful entrepreneurs who had soldiered through those rough first years and now mirrored the benefits that I was looking for in my own career.
Still, I struggled with the uncertainty of making the leap. I was newly married, and my wife had just given birth to our son a year before. I decided to take small steps to build my business while still being employed full-time.
A little over a year ago, I decided on a business name, structure and personal brand. Then, I worked on expanding my network and letting people know I was open to taking on a few clients. Those relationships, new and old, were key to finding my first few business leads.
The process of going solo has taught me a lot and allowed me to really think about the focus of my business and the type of clients I want to work with. I’ve also learned new things about myself along the way. For instance, I really enjoy the initial stages of courting a new client, something that surprised me. The excitement, nervousness and expectation of a potential project can be intoxicating.
While I still have a few elements to get in place before I fully commit to stepping out on my own, I’m working diligently to make sure I have a firm foundation. I continuously reach out to connect with potential clients and find ways to showcase my work at every opportunity.
If you are like me and need a more secure approach to starting an independent career, I encourage you to take small steps toward that goal. You’ll be surprised at how much you might enjoy it.
Jared Meade, APR, is founder and principal at Rayne Strategy Group, a PR agency in Toledo, Ohio, and the manager, public and media relations, at Owens Community College in Perrysburg, Ohio. Connect with him on Twitter @meadepr.