This post is by Solo PR Pro Content and Community Specialist, Heather Rast.
Last week, Kellye celebrated her 16th year as an independent PR practitioner. Her post, “Celebrating 16 Years And Counting,” called out three key lessons for those wishing to commit to a solo career path. I think her points are important to remember. Working for yourself isn’t for everyone. And even if consulting is a right fit for your personality and work style, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy or simple.
A year ago last week, my digital marketing company was born. While I recommend a lengthy planning and preparation period (pro tip: while gainfully employed) to help you become familiar with the myriad things you never had to think of before (well in advance of making the big leap), that wasn’t the case with me. “On the job training” took on new meaning as I tried to figure out how to build something while doing work to earn the revenue to fuel said something. It was tough. But thankfully, I had a lot of people in my corner. And more than one hero helped save my day.
- Business contacts – former clients, co-workers, network connections, and supervisors. When I went out on my own I thought about all of the people I admired who were doing good work or undertaking interesting projects. I systematically worked my way down the list with a series of breakfasts, lunches, and stolen coffee breaks to probe their brains for business leads, suggestions for setting up my company framework, and venues for gaining exposure.
- Relatives – my father-in-law once owned a successful industrial equipment business. Even though a few of his methods were outdated and our products vastly different , he helped me focus on ways to serve my customers. If there’s one thing about business that transcends technology, it’s how our users need to feel attended to.
- Career coach – I’m not sure I buy into the notion of life coach and what-not, but I’ll attest to the value a good career advisor can provide. Fortunately, I’d worked with a fabulous one while with a former employer, so I already had a relationship and the confidence that she could help me step off the roller coaster I’d found myself on. Even if your budget is tight, I can’t understate the value of someone who can help you understand your strengths, how to use them to your advantage, and how to honestly look at your areas that need work.
- My family – My husband and I are both pretty independent people and have always had separate pursuits as well as an appreciation for each others’ space. My kids have grown up watching me work at my computer while attending to other family tasks. Even though they’ve seen me work hard, long hours, that was nothing compared to this past year. I’m saddened by the little moments I know I’ve lost. But I’m eternally grateful this group of special people support what I’m doing.
- Friends – I had more than a little help from my friends. A couple awarded me some work based on their first-hand knowledge of my capabilities. Virtual-born relationships were infinitely helpful, too, as a few of the friends I met via social media helped me uncover some top-notch opportunities to publish my writing.
To call this a Thanksgiving post might be a misnomer. The timing isn’t coincidental, of course. But for me, this holiday is symbolic of a much deeper appreciation of the people who gave their time and energy to guide me this past year. Without their generosity, compassion, and patience (I ask a lot of questions), I might have given up. I might have given in to the fear and self-doubt.
The fact that I didn’t says more about those people – and their collective wisdom – than me.
What blessings are you thankful for this year? Did you have heroes help get your business off the ground?
This post contributed by Heather Rast, Content and Community Specialist for Solo PR Pro. Heather is Principal of Insights & Ingenuity, a Cedar Rapids digital marketingcompany. She develops brand identity and marketing communications plans for small businesses that distinguish them from the competition. Her content planning and online community-building work for larger organizations helps them better serve their consumers.