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Five Things I Learned My First Year of Business (2022) Part 4

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: Fail Often and Fail Quickly

I’m a perfectionist by nature. Every media job I’ve held required some level of fact-checking, spell-checking, check check check. I even take calculated risks, quietly studying all possible outcomes before I make a move.

The idea of failing being a good thing? That violated my central core. Becoming friends with failure, however, is a key piece of my success so far.

It’s how I keep going and growing.

It’s how I keep learning and honing new skills.

It’s how I keep the creative juices flowing.

Failing is where growth happens.

There are two main ideas for how I can build my business. Both drawn from 15 years working in TV studios, and one year working from home.

One idea is the personal producer. A service provider where I work with you crafting TV-worthy pitches, developing content, and giving performance feedback. This one is researched, developed and profitable. People want this service and are willing to pay for it.

The other idea is to show how to apply TV production techniques to Zoom meetings. I’ve developed a system that is budget-friendly and easy to maintain. I show how to use desk lamps in place of a ring light. I even have a solution for DIY sound-proofing.

My target is the worker-bee. The middle-income earner who doesn’t have the luxury of a dedicated Zoom space or the disposable income for a bunch of useless equipment.

Companies will pay top-dollar to offer production support to executives. They won’t necessarily pay top-dollar to offer this same support to the rest of the staff appearing on Zoom.

It’s assumed the average person can just figure it out. But if you’ve been on Zoom or any virtual setting in the past few months, you can see for yourself not everyone can figure it out.

For one, every space is different. An article suggesting you start by facing the window doesn’t help if you’re in the basement or a windowless room.

And almost no one talks about audio in any meaningful way. Just because gamer headsets have good quality audio doesn’t mean you should wear them in important meetings. If you do one thing, invest in a Lav mic and discreet earbuds. I beg of you.

I have failed at launching this idea so many times and in so many ways.

  1. I have a mini online course where you can learn how to set up a Tiny TV studio on your desk. I offered it for free to dozens of people. Two tried it. I launched it on Teachable. No one enrolled. I offered it on Skillshare and promoted it a bit on LinkedIn. A few people watched it there and I got $6 for it. Here’s the thing about courses: they’re a lot of work. Promoting the product and building the trust online takes weeks, even months to build. In the past year between working my news writing gig (which was supposed to be part-time but ended up full-time) and actual client work, there just weren’t enough hours in the day to build a social media following big enough to monetize this way.

  2. I tried staging live workshops where people could get real-time advice on how to fix their screen setups and look better on Zoom instantly. This launch came on the heels of my first guest speaker stint at a conference, where I picked up dozens of new followers. Plus I had an opportunity to show how to set up a studio on the road from scratch. At the end of April I stayed with my parents while I got work done on my Toronto condo. I created an entire week-long series sharing my approach and how I solved the unique problems in the space. Each post pushed to the week of workshops I was holding “for the first time ever”. No one has signed up. I still need to build that collateral.

  3. I have pitched this service to actual companies transitioning from an office to a fully remote scenario. They agree this service is vital, especially for their sales staff. But they also think I’m asking for too much money. It’s tempting to lower my prices, but I’m willing to keep failing and hold firm here. There’s real value in this offering. I just need to find the right client willing to pay this price.

The common thread behind these failures is a lack of online presence as an expert in this field. This is key to landing any sale.

Establishing a professional brand takes time and consistency. With my year 1 schedule, I haven’t been very consistent with posting. I celebrate my client wins, but that’s about all I had time for.

Now that I’m focusing solely on the business, I do have the time. And I think over the coming weeks and months, I will finally build the capital needed to secure sales in this area.

Failing quickly means you’re not spending a lot of time and resources on something you’re not sure of. It also means you’re not dwelling on failure.

Take stock of what went wrong. What can you change? If you can still see potential for growth and believe in its value, make a change and try again.


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