Best Success Story:
I really enjoy working with Candice Kumai. She’s well known in the food industry. She’s a judge on Iron Chef America and has gained notoriety as an author, food writer, TV host on Lifetime Television Networks’ Cook Yourself Thin and cast member of E!’s new reality show, Playing With Fire!
I work with her to come up with a strategy on how to build her brand and how to better position everything that she’s doing. I have worked with her since her involvement with E! — working through the filming and throughout the process; it’s great to see her blossom. The show introduces her [to a wider audience] who can finally see what my client does and why she’s so wonderful at what she does.
That’s been the biggest achievement for me; being with a brand and watching them grow. It’s just been amazing, and I’m excited to see what’s going to take place now. Watching your client’s go to the next level is such a great achievement. And to know that you’re a part of that, to help them get to the next level and work as a team, that’s an amazing feeling.
Biggest Startup Challenge:
Luckily I have a background of working in PR agencies. When you work at a PR agency, you’re typically given 4-6 accounts to oversee and work with your team on; so you’re used to multitasking and doing a lot. Having said that, when you work at an agency you also have a team. I was previously the director of an agency heading up their beauty department, so I had five or six staff members underneath me and they were doing a lot of the work.
As an independent publicist (or consultant), you do that as well as all of the other work yourself, so it’s quite challenging. You need to have good organizational skills, be able to multitask and work under a lot of pressure because obviously, depending on how popular you are and how well your business is doing, you’re going to get a lot of people approaching you for projects. Sometimes you don’t want to turn them down, but initially it’s hard because you have to learn to manage all of your clients, keep them happy, and get results.
As your company grows you’re able to hire interns, assistants and staff — and they can take the load off. But initially, the challenge is building rapport with your clients and getting results. Once you get more money coming in then you can start hiring staff. But it’s very hard; you’ll be working very long hours at first, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Tips for Entrepreneurs:
Never give up.
It’s very frustrating sometimes when you have your own business; sometimes you’re putting all of the hours in initially and you’re not generating the income or getting the results you envisioned yourself to get.
The first 1-2 years are so challenging because you have to put so much work in and you’re getting some success, but the money takes a long time to come in. It’s the case of really not giving up and keep on going.
I know so many people who have businesses and are enthusiastic in the beginning and then they give up because they don’t have what it takes to continue. So I think having that tenacity and the belief in yourself to keep going until you get to that next level is something everybody can learn from.
Having your own business and working as an independent contractor isn’t for everybody because you don’t have the stability of a paycheck, and it can be daunting. But just keep going and don’t give up.
Find the right staff and team.
It’s so, so difficult to find people who can write and who are committed. I can remember when I started in my career path, I had internships and I took them seriously. But it’s hard to find interns now who really treat it like a job; who really apply themselves and do everything they’re supposed to do; what you hired them to do. They just want to do the glamorous stuff.
So it was challenging to find the right fit. I went through many interns because they couldn’t deliver what I wanted. So really sit down and get to know the people you’re interviewing, and make sure that you’re aware of what they can offer you and what you can offer them… Make sure you have a connection with [new hires] and set clear goals in the beginning. Finding the right support initially, to take that extra load off of you in the beginning, really helps.
Understand the realities for starting a PR business.
Particularly in the field of PR, so many people rush into starting their own business. Everyone has a PR agency straight out of college, which is great; everyone has their own aspirations. But taking the time to understand your craft (and the business) to produce results with your client is so important. I think it’s great when someone wants to be independent, but if you don’t have the contacts or the experience to back it up, it’s a lot of trouble.
It takes a lot to run your own business and fulfill client’s expectations. For me it took at least 10 years to have the confidence to open my business, and that was after working with major clients and celebrities in the industry. Really take the time to work at different agencies, get to know the press, and build your network in the PR field and just in general. If you’re in a city like New York where you have access to and meet different people, take advantage of that and then do it properly.
I think it’s great to have ambition (and as an entrepreneur have your own business), but sometimes people want to skip over the learning process and get to that bit. Just take your time and do it right, and when you feel that you really can service your clients, then go ahead and do it!
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Photo Credit: Jenelle Hamilton
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