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Five Things I Learned My First Year of Business (2022) Part 2

The blog first appeared on Medium in May 2022

May 5th marks the one-year anniversary of registering my business. I am the sole proprietor of a media consulting company. I help people get on TV: crafting their pitches, shaping compelling content, and helping with their “at-home” studios for remote interviews.

My first year goals were small: discover my client base, manage cash flow, expand my network and service offerings. I’m happy to report I have met these goals and am now entering Year 2 with a focus on scaling up and expanding.

This week I’m sharing five key pieces of advice I’ve followed during the make-or-break year for many entrepreneurs.

Key Advice: Take a Year to Experiment and Discover

I have a confession to make: I have yet to write out a formal business plan. Was it risky to launch a service-based business with only a vague idea of what these services are and who would buy them? Yes.

Was it worth it to be open to finding new ways to market and sell my existing skill set from 15+ years working in TV? Also yes.

The experiment and discover phase of any new business is the most important, most insightful and least profitable stage. But don’t skip it for the sake of making money quickly.

This advice came to me from a solopreneur I respect and admire. Dwayne Matthews is an expert in tech, education, and is a parenting expert on The Marilyn Denis Show. That’s where we met and discovered a deep, mutual respect for each other’s work.

Social media is the most cost-effective way to research your brand, your market and your clients. Dwayne told me to just start making content. Put my ideas out there, state my expertise and see who reacts and how. It’s free to experiment on these platforms, so why not start there?

He also told me it’s about progress over perfection. Quality content creation takes a lot of time, effort and resources. But I wasn’t interested in being a media influencer. I was simply throwing ideas at the wall to see what stuck.

My first idea was to help people simply look better in Zoom meetings.

The first year I worked from home, I never bothered setting up a quality screen. The platform was a means to an end. A temporary fix to a temporary way of working.

Then I found myself interviewing for jobs and instantly realized the benefit of looking and sounding good on this platform. I developed a system where I applied professional TV techniques for lighting, camera work, set styling and audio but adapted for the home office.

I shared tips on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (the three platforms I’m more comfortable with). I even created an online course, filmed and edited in my home during lockdown in between news writing shifts.

I have made zero dollars from this idea. Based on the traction my solutions get people really like and value this advice. They just don’t want to pay for it. Yet.

Social media is valuable tool for research. I follow #mediacoach and I follow actual successful media coaches. The most common pain points they focus on are pitching and presentation.

With this in mind, I started reaching out to on-air experts I had worked with on The Marilyn Denis Show to get deeper insight into why pitching and presentation are so challenging for some.

What I learned through these conversations is it’s a mix of time and knowledge. TV producers are not known for giving feedback. If you did a good job, you get booked again. If you did a bad job, you never hear back.

That void is where self-doubt festers. Pitching becomes a chore. The last thing you want to do is send something out there that might work, might not work.

And with the pandemic, producers are at an even further distance than before. If you’re struggling to get on-air, you’re also weighed down by feelings of self-doubt, isolation and helplessness.

It was through these conversations I discovered the service I could offer and build on: personal producer.

For existing on-air talent, I would provide a consistent voice to develop pitches and content. I would also provide the much-needed feedback from an experienced producer.

I apply all of the skills I honed as a segment producer and now offer them to my clients.

They feel cared for, supported, and confident on-air. The producers we work with get quality content to put their own spin on.

These skills come easy to me, but it streamlines the process for both my client and the producers we work with.

This is the understanding I’m using to build my business. My clients are busy people who don’t have the time to figure it out for themselves. They run successful businesses of their own and are looking for a creative partner to guide them through the TV experience.

Active listening is key when you’re attracting new clients and discovering their needs. You need to listen to their problems, all of them, and find out the reasons why.

Ask questions and take notes. But don’t commit to anything in the room. Don’t let the tunnel vision of your existing skill set and service offerings influence this conversation. Figure that out after the conversation. You want the full picture of what this potential client is dealing with and why.

By keeping an open mind, you will find new ways to apply your existing skill set. I have an active client roster of four (with two more waiting to be on-boarded).

Three active clients have existing TV experience. At first I thought I would only work with established experts, but then I saw the growth potential in an up-and-coming lifestyle expert.

I helped launch The Marilyn Denis Show. In the early seasons I worked exclusively with people who had little to no TV experience. I made them series regulars.

Now I’ve opened up my roster to develop and nurture brand new lifestyle experts, opening up new possibilities for business.

During the research and experiment phase it’s important to be open to these new ideas and possibilities — even after you have a strong sense of what your mission statement is.

If I can see potential growth, I’ll figure out a way to make it work.

There are countless programs where people can learn to do their own media outreach. A lot of them focus on entrepreneurs and talk about how this will grow their brand, establish them as thought leaders etc.

I never say never. In fact, “develop coaching course” is on my company white board under FUTURE PROJECTS.

For now, I really enjoy the person-to-person work with my clients. I’m genuinely interested in their content and in helping them find their proper platforms. It fosters the creative urge I let go dormant when I was managing a show instead of creating one.

This is the biggest discovery from the first year of building my business. I’m leaning more towards “media agent” as opposed to “coach”.

Maybe one day I’ll launch an online course as a revenue generator. But I’m not interested in letting go of the one-on-one.


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