All signs pointed me towards entrepreneurism back in 2014, but I managed to avoid them, at least at first. Instead of embracing change, I found myself caught in a web of reasons NOT to start my own company. On the surface my life was stable and relatively uneventful. I enjoyed a full-time position as media director at a small agency north of Boston, I had two young kids with their own busy schedules, and I wasn’t actively seeking out additional stress or discomfort. Looking back, I realize how dangerously close I came to letting uncertainty (and apathy) dictate my future. Fortunately, my innate drive won out and Richardson Media Group was born in August of that year.
One barrier preventing me from taking the initial leap was the false assumption that I had to be 100% ready to go right out of the gate. As a self-described rule follower I tend to hold myself back if I’m not fully prepped. Any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that running a business, like raising a child, is not something you can ever fully prepare for in advance. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do your research, consider the potential risks, financial and otherwise, write a solid business plan, know your competition, assess the need for your product or service in the marketplace and figure out what resources you’ll need to get started. But at the end of the day, entrepreneurship is either within you or it is not. When you’re in the middle of running a business you’re guaranteed to meet up with potential trip wires everywhere, ready to threaten your progress. Even though it would be great to control everything, I soon realized I would have to get comfortable living with a certain amount of uncertainty.
“Entrepreneurship is either within you or it is not.”
Flash forward six and a half years later and I’m still learning something new every single day. Working in the media planning & buying space, we quickly become expert jugglers. We’re accountable to a wide collection of stakeholders when we kick off an ad campaign, including clients, vendors, creative partners and our own internal team. Details and deadlines are constantly changing. It can be hectic but the sense of accomplishment is contagious. Running the show isn’t easy, but I love it! In addition to my inner compass, which I keep close at hand, I’ve been fortunate to gather a great team and assemble the right tools and technology to keep us moving in the right direction.
So what are the key elements that turned my entrepreneurial experiment into a successful, vibrant company? Let’s look at the three P’s I can’t live my professional life without:
- People. I knew early on that I didn’t want to go it alone. Huge respect to those who choose the independent route but I always wanted to work amongst a small team who shared my values, saw my vision and could bring their unique talents to help grow the company. While I’ve had some turnover over the years and my share of bumps in the road, I can see now how those challenges led me to assemble the stellar team we employ today. There’s literally no one else I could have navigated the past year (and pandemic) alongside and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for my small but mighty team.
- Purpose. Can you state why your company exists? What need you fill with your core products or services? The reasons why prospective customers should choose to work with you? What you bring to the market that your competitors don’t? Practice culling down your story into one clear and concise synopsis. You have only a few seconds to explain your purpose to someone. Make it your best!
- Persistence. It’s normal to feel doubtful at times. Worry comes with the territory when you lead a company. I’ve found that taking care of myself both physically and emotionally helps me build up the resilience I need to face difficulty. If I can complete that workout, hike that trail or write that article then I’m capable of finding a solution to any challenge that blocks my path. Persistence comes with determination and a belief in one’s own abilities. No one can take that away from you.
Whether you are a seasoned professional who’s considering starting your own business or someone just out of school thinking about taking the first steps of your entrepreneurship journey, I strongly recommend finding a mentor who’s willing to give you much-needed perspective and share their own career experiences. I benefited from spending time with a SCORE mentor through my local chamber of commerce in the early years. I encourage you to ask around. You’ll find most people are happy to give their time to someone starting out.
Read more articles about entrepreneurship here on the blog. Listen to Season One of our BSuite podcast where we interview a wonderful group of creative business leaders, and feel free to reach out to me via email with your questions or feedback.