Today marks 12 years since I started doing what I do. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in others it feels like a lifetime ago. I look at the photo in this blog and I am warmed by the memories of those days with little, tiny children, but feel grateful for the adults into whom these two are evolving.
12 years ago I was working as a sales rep for cute gift items. I was calling on local boutiques and became friends with one of my customers on this new platform, Facebook. He saw me sharing on there and asked if I’d help him out with his store. From there I got a referral from someone else who told me she wanted to hire me on an outsourced basis. “To do what?” I asked. And from there… this agency took off.
We’ve had some very high highs and some very low lows. And yet, here we are. So if I were talking to my 12-years-ago self, here are some of the things I’d tell her:
12. Surround yourself with people who are better at this than you are. Make sure you’ve got a team of people to whom you trust to delegate the workload to so you can continue to scale. I do. I have a great team of people.
11. Always network. I’ve really never run ads for this business (aside from supporting the playbill at my kids’ school). Every client we’ve ever worked with has been a referral from someone or a person I met through my networking groups (either online or face-to-face).
10. Know that you don’t know everything. Engage good advisors and ask them questions along the way.
9. Protect your time. No one else is going to do that for you. Make sure to schedule time for yourself for exercise, chilling out and just being able to get the work done.
Ok those first four were pretty standard no matter what kind of business you own. These are specific to me and THIS business;
8. Because the job is online always be prepared to get questions from people like:
- “How do I move my itunes library into the cloud?” I don’t know. Mine is just in the cloud.
- “How do I make a video in photos and send it to someone?” I don’t know. I use iMovie.
- “Why is my (insert any example here) app not working?” I don’t know. Did you turn your phone off and turn it back on?
- “How do you Snapchat?” I don’t know. I’m 47 and none of my clients need Snapchat.
- “Why isn’t the TV working?” I seriously think it is you just don’t know how to turn it on properly.
As a reminder to my family: I own a social media engagement company. I know social. Media… I’m still working on that. Ask a teenager.
7. Have independent children. When we are home (as we all are right now and for what seems like will be forever)… I can’t always stop to help with homework, make them lunch, do their laundry. From a very young age I let go and made sure they could handle these things themselves. Even if they don’t do it the way I would do it, it’s ok. They can do it, one way or another. I’m reaping the benefits of that now.
6. Measure calories in and out. I make sure to exercise everyday on some level (yes, everyday). I eat healthy and I monitor everything with a fitbit. I could easily sit at this desk for 12 hours a day but I don’t. I move, I eat, I drink water, I play with dogs. It’s important.
5. Know your worth. Sometimes you have to turn down a client. Sometimes you need to just not want it that badly. You need to not sacrifice what it is you do. You need to not discount or apologize for your prices. Ever. And if a client is behind on payments, cut the cord. Yes, I’ve done it.
4. You CAN do it all. You just can’t do it all at the same time. The past six years I’ve been very involved in the Parent Association at our school. I didn’t ask for the positions I took, I was asked to take them on. I love our school, I love our community, and I stepped up when needed. In some ways, the business may have suffered for this. I didn’t have time to be on Twitter and I may have lost my position among online colleagues. But I couldn’t do it all at the same time, something had to give (and it wasn’t going to be my family). Now that I’m Past President of that organization, I’ve found a ton of time to work ON the business. And even during a pandemic, it’s paying off.
3. Get dressed. Yes, I do work from home. No, I don’t always see people (even through Zoom). But starting my day with a cup of coffee, a made bed, a great workout and real clothes, makes all of this…well… real.
2. Know your value. My biggest competition has been a potential client’s next door neighbor’s cousin’s daughter who is home from college for the summer and really knows Instagram inside and out. Yep. I’ve worked with these “interns.” They sure do know how to Instagram on their own account. But a business account is a completely different beast and trust me, since I’ve seen it first hand, they do not yet know what they are doing.
1. Stay in your lane. We’ve stuck with being social media engagement specialists, a team of professional communicators, this entire time. We haven’t ventured out into the world of web development, SEO, PR and media buying. We don’t need to. We partner with so many great colleagues who are amazing at what they do. If they stay in their lane and we stay in ours, there’s success for everyone.
So as she sets out for 12 years of being an entrepreneur and multitasking throughout her day, I want 12-years-ago Shane to know she’s going to be okay… she’s going to make it through some very tough times, including the tragic loss of a teammate. She’ll plan a Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah, she’ll cook for holidays and train dogs. She’ll send kids to camp and teach one (so far) to drive. She’ll make her health a priority and she’ll renovate a home. And through it all, this business will be here and will give her something that is just hers… that she works on with an amazing group of people and continues to nourish. Here’s to the next dozen!