Seven months ago today — on January 4, 2010 — I walked in and resigned from my position as SVP at the world’s largest PR agency. With no staff, no clients, no office space and no financial backers, I suppose you could say I left to start the world’s smallest PR agency.
I’ve read many times that the definition of success for a small business in the start-up stage is simply survival. There are days when the A/C in our office (in a lovely historic building) isn’t working again, and I’m in the floor trying to put together a fan, cursing at the screws that seem to be too short, that seem like mere survival. But those are the exception. Most days, I feel on fire in a way that has nothing to do with the broken A/C.
A part of the Clairemont vision from the very beginning has been to blend traditional communications and social media as part of an overall strategy focused on the client’s objectives. As an early mark of success, all ongoing Clairemont accounts have a mix of traditional and social tactics in the plans we have built and are executing for them. We have also been selected for social media projects, including an in-depth social media audit for UNC Kenan-Flagler’s School of Business. (More on that soon.)
The Clairemont team continues to grow which is absolutely thrilling to me! We don’t plan to be a small agency forever! Our summer TLC (team, learning, career) interns are amazing & have formed a great team with each other, and I’m interviewing for full-time positions.
What I’ve learned in these seven months (in addition to things such as get business insurance before signing a lease, how not to pull my hair out while using QuickBooks and that I have no future as a fan assembler) is that when you own a business, you have to take risks every day. Each day. I guess I thought before that the leap in starting the business was the risk and then somehow, voila, all would fall into place. Nope. I’m also learning — through experience and with the help of my executive coach, when I put an analytical evaluation behind my intuition and gut instincts, most risks yield rewards.
Last week, an interview candidate asked me why she should consider leaving her steady job to join a new agency and how could I reassure her that Clairemont will survive. Great question. I’m not interested in how to survive. Only how to thrive. I changed my life because I know that Clairemont will be widely successful and will bring me and my team members much joy in the process. Otherwise, January 4 would have just been another day at the office.