If I knew then what I know now I wonder if I would do this thing again, that is, go into business.
Business is a roller coaster. Just when you think you’re on easy street something comes along to smack you into the gutter. It’s whether or not you can take a deep breath, dust yourself off and get back on your horse that defines your ability to stay in the race.
When you’re in a service business that moves fairly quickly and changes rapidly, you had better be resilient. That phrase “what have you done for me lately” rings in our ears on a daily basis. It’s the truth we live by. I’ve always told my associates, it’s when they love you the most they are most apt to let you go. It’s the weirdest phenomena, and I’m not sure why it works that way. But my feeling is that it’s best to stay as neutral as you can while delivering as much as you can.
It’s a roller coaster, and as scary as they can be at times, roller coasters do offer a bit of fun. And that brings me to the point. “They” say perception is everything. For someone who works with industries that thrive mainly on perception I’m learning to use that maxim for my own good. Yes, we’re up, now we’re down. BUT IT’S ALL GOOD. Because when we’re down where else can we go? UP! Yep, I can handle the roller coaster. Can you?
When I started my business as a division of a branding company winning corporate clients was the Holy Grail. You WANTED big business because it paid well, generally, and because it was a feather in your cap. Many other PR companies were vying for the coveted corporate client, the one that would “put you on the map.” So if you got the biz it was a great day.
I won a large piece of beauty business (agency of record worldwide for a major project) with only 3 employees—me being one of them. The other two staff members were junior. In our minds we were small but mighty. We kept the client for years and really enjoyed the work, overall… I’d worked on corporate business as the VP of another PR agency prior to launching the division, so it wasn’t entirely unknown territory. But along the road, as our division grew, we certainly had our share of boutique brands. The mix of the two often worked well together, as we creatively forged alliances that used the cache of one brand to enhance the profile of a company with more spending capacity. We certainly produced some wonderful mergers.
Today, after 5 years running my own company, I do wonder, is the corporate client really the way to go? They do have more money, but they do require more resources to run. They do offer prestige, but in an increasing segmented world, smaller can often be more desirable and even visible.
Here’s what I think, corporate is great, as long as they have vision and an ability to play small. In the world of consumer products consumers want to know that they matter. The type of brand ethos that can pull that off generally starts within the culture and that makes that company a good one to work for. So yes, we love corporate, just as long as they care…