The other day I met with a fellow public relations professional who was tremendously excited about starting her own firm after a long career working for nonprofit and educational organizations. I asked her when she was going to launch her firm and she said, “After I finish my business plan.” She then admitted she had been working on her business plan for nearly a year and planned to finish it in six months. Meanwhile, she had let some good business opportunities slip away.
If you are planning to launch your own consulting practice, avoid getting caught up in business plan paralysis. While a detailed business plan is absolutely necessary for businesses that need funding from investors or banks, the beauty of starting a solo practice or small public relations firm is the low start-up cost. Your biggest initial investment is likely to be your new Web site, and you probably won’t need a loan for that.
Instead of sweating over a business plan that may delay your dream to start a firm, my advice is to develop a business blueprint. The blueprint helps you set SMART goals (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely) to help you launch your new firm. The great thing about a business blueprint is that it gives you a solid foundation with built-in flexibility. My services took off in unanticipated directions within a year of starting my firm. Be open to new opportunities to say YES when a client says, “you are doing a great job for us with the media. Can you also help us with Facebook and Twitter?”
I will cover SMART goals and the seven key questions you need to ask yourself at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value. See you in November!
Joan Gladstone, APR, Fellow PRSA, president, Gladstone International, authored “Starting and Growing Your Own PR Firm” for PRSA in 1998. Revised in 2006, the book remains a PRSA best seller. Gladstone has presented workshops and seminars on firm management at PRSA International Conferences, Counselors Academy Spring Conferences, and Chapter events.
Join Joan for her pre-Conference seminar, “Pursue Your Dream: Starting and Growing Your Own PR Firm,” and her co-presentation, “Let’s Talk Business: Independent Practitioners Share Advice for New and Established PR Practices” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, November 7–10 in San Diego, CA!