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Five Things I Learned My First Year of Business (2022) Part 3

This article 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: Learn From Your Competitors

The other night I settled in to watch The Devil Wears Prada just for kicks. Miranda Priestley’s over-the-top assistant requests always get me laughing:


“Where is that paper I had in my hand yesterday morning”


“Get me that thing from that place I like”


And of course her most cutting line: “That’s all.”


I get that we’re supposed to read this as an unrelenting bitch and true nightmare to work for. But the older I get, the more I realize she’s not a bitch. She’s a survivor.


For some reason, competition among women is always reduced to catty asides and bitchy remarks. Gossip, manipulation and lies. You want examples? The whole Real Housewives cannon, any reality dating show, Working Girl.


Basically any scenario where two women are after the same thing: screen time, a husband, professional respect.


When you look at it, that kind of bitchy competition is ingrained in business. From blind taste tests, to adds claiming one product is better than the leading brand, to television ratings systems.


In order to prove you’re the best, you also have to put someone down.


This might work for the Coke/Pepsi’s of the world. And it’s the conflict fuelling most reality TV.

But when you’re building your own business, especially if you’re the sole proprietor, it can cost you learning opportunities.


It can cost you growth.


In any industry you need to keep your pulse on the broader market. What are other media coaches and consultants offering? How do they promote themselves? What platforms do they use? And, most important, how are my services different? What space can I fill in this market?


I follow a lot of media coaches on Instagram as well as the #mediacoach for this exact reason. Same with PR. It’s an endless source of affirmation that the advice I give is bang-on, as well as new resources and techniques.


The most generous poster in this space is Jennifer Singh, of She’s Newsworthy Media. She’s well-connected, highly skilled and at a success level I want to be in five years.

We’re both media professionals helping entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs navigate this space. In theory we’re competitors. But in reality, she’s my unofficial mentor.


She’s an excellent resource I need as I navigate my business. And she’s my daily inspiration to one day reach her level.


I don’t need to tear her down in order to make myself feel better about my skills. Quite the opposite. I need her to continue growing her success so I can continue to follow her lead.

In marathon racing, runners are group based on their pace. It’s the average length of time it takes you to run a kilometre (or mile if you’re racing in the U.S.). Each pace group has a pace leader.


You have a to apply to become a pace leader. This means you need to show you can run your consistent pace, without wavering, because everyone in that group is using your run to manage their performance.


She’s Newsworthy Media is my pace leader. We’re both running the same race, but I’m not motivated to “beat” her. I don’t need to outpace her to reach my goal. But her steady presence on Instagram is keeping me on track.


It’s also important for me to be a student of the industry and constantly improve my pitch game.


One of my clients is a podcast host and our goal is to grow her audience. The best way to do that is to get her booked on podcasts.


I have more than a decade experience pitching TV. I have zero experience pitching podcasts.


Last week I took an online masterclass on podcast guesting held by Interview Connections. They’re a booking agency in the U.S. specializing in booking guests for podcasts.

The services they provide are very similar to mine, but in the podcast space. Another competitor right? Perfect chance for corporate espionage and steal their sales funnel model?


Not quite.


They did a brilliant job sharing their approach to booking guests for podcasts. It gave me ideas for how to pitch my client. Plus it gave me better insight into how podcasts can help other clients build their brand. And the confidence to pitch in this space and build media relations this way.


I needed to enter this masterclass as a student, not a competitor. I needed to take in all of their information as a potential client. I couldn’t be clouded with thoughts of strategy and how I could “get” them.


For one, they’re at a success level I’m still dreaming of. More important, I need the insight to develop and grow my skill set.


I’ve spent the past year building a business outside the cut-throat competitor model. In my past life working for network TV, competing shows were treated with suspicion.


After all, we were going after the same stars, the same sponsors, the same audience pool. In news it was always about breaking news first (we’ll fix the broken news later).


It took conscious effort to stop thinking that way and it’s so worth it.


There are many ways to measure success. I’ve never won a marathon, but I have finished one.


And I don’t need to be #1 in my industry to be happy with the results I get for my clients. Giving them the biggest audience possible for their message is reward enough.

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