Fear is a great motivator.
Building a business takes one step at a time.
Those two things I have carried with me since starting my own business. I can't believe it has been a year since I founded Out of Home Creative. There are many things I learned throughout the process. We all have heard the stats around how many fledgling businesses fail but that doesn't mean you won't make it. Plus, If you have a role model who can guide you along the way, your chances of success are better. For me, that role model was my mother, who was not only a single parent, but has successfully been running her own advertising business for more than 35 years. Here are five things I learned after starting my own outdoor advertising design firm.
1. You wear a lot of hats
In my former role of Southeast Regional Creative Director at a Top 4 Outdoor Advertising Company, my main responsibility was focused on either designing billboards or improving operational design processes which supported all of our markets nationwide. Self-employment requires many roles that you don’t have to concern yourself with when you’re employed on someone's payroll. This means learning various jobs, skills and tasks you will need in order to make your business work and it goes beyond just being good at what you do. I learned very quickly that I had to divide my time across (a) Accounting and Finance, (b) Marketing and Advertising, (c) Sales and Client Services and (d) Design execution all while meeting deadlines.
2. You have to spend money to make it
This is something (most) new business owners don’t want to do when starting a new business. Think of your marketing and advertising budget not as expenses but as an investment in gaining exposure. Find out which industry associations will benefit your company the most and consider joining the most important ones at first. Ask people in the industry that you know and trust, their opinions on the value of different associations so you can apply that insight to knowing what might be best for your company.
3. Select your clients carefully
Find clients who are the right fit. When you run your own business, you will interact with a broad range of clients, vendors, suppliers, etc. At first, you may think you need to accept every project in order for your business to be successful and generate income but just because a prospective client is referred to you by a client you’re already working with, does not mean they’re going to be a good fit for your company. Meeting with potential clients that are interested to work with you is key. You have control regarding who you work with and whether it may have potential to be a long term business relationship. Find clients that you feel are a good fit for your company across the board and work towards developing a true partnership with them which will help you and your business grow.
4. Work on being efficient
Create a delivery process which allows you to handle your maximum throughput. I went from handling the Atlanta local market design needs to servicing clients nationwide while maintaining a short turnaround time. In order to do this, I had to become much more efficient and find areas where I could streamline activities.
5. Think like a CEO
Because you now run your own company, all the accountability starts with and ends at your desk. Don't be afraid to take risks and make changes if something isn't working. It took me a year to realize that is who I am now. As my husband always says, "You need to think like a CEO because you are the CEO."
About Out of Home Creative: We are an outdoor advertising firm which designs billboards, digital campaigns, transit, and street furniture to any non-traditional out of home advertising. Based in Atlanta, Georgia we serve businesses, agencies, media buyers and out of home companies throughout North America. Melody Roberts is the Founder and CEO.