I recently gave the keynote speech at the Flourish Media conference where I shared the VJMedia startup story with fellow budding entrepreneurs. As I ended the speech, many asked if those same nuggets of wisdom on my own brand success was written down somewhere that they could reference to for their own business models.
I decided to put pen to paper and share my simple but life changing method that has allowed me to propel VJMedia throughout the years into a 360° multi-media brand. These nuggets of wisdom can be used for any business model and I hope they help you as you continue to refine your business, start something new and crush those goals.
For VJMedia, my success model all comes down to preparedness. I once watched Oprah recount her own entrepreneurial journey on an episode of Super Soul Sunday where she spoke candidly about luck. She frankly put it “when preparation meets opportunity, this is when luck happens”. Lady O couldn’t be more spot on and I believe this to my core. (see a snippet of the episode below).
When I first started VMedia, it was out of necessity as a way to pay myself for the freelance voiceover and hosting work that I was doing after my radio years. When a colleague asked me for an invoice from my LLC and EIN number, I was lost. I had none of those assets needed therefore couldn’t get paid. But I never shared that with him- instead, I researched those basic business necessities and incorporated my company within a week. That moment continues to be a driving force in my daily business practice and a virtue that I now teach to others. Always stay ready.
Although that was a small hurdle in my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve used the notion of staying ready at various stages of my career. How can you run a successful business if you don’t have the basic fundamentals in order like being able to pay yourself? It’s a must. Once I implemented that method of proactively preparing my business for success, I worked ahead to ensure that each client had what he or she needed before they asked.
For example, if a client asks for a media kit, a fresh voiceover demo, a rate card or a proposal, I have those basic assets ready to go. I also make sure that my website is easy to navigate and updated so that clients can review to get what they need.
Based on your start-up’s brand model, here are a few essentials that you should have in your arsenal at all times to ensure success. These tools can be used regardless of your style of business.
- Make sure your online footprint is polished and timely. Remember your digital footprint is a reflection of your brand. Make sure it says what you want it to say. Example: Are you a printing company with excellent costumer service? Make sure your website and social media footprint reflects just that. You’d be surprised as to how many people have a business but don’t have a place to send people to render those services. OR they have a website with no contact information or outdated info to connect with potential clients. Fix that quick! The ability for people to reach you and receive a timely response is essential in getting repeat business and keeping your business alive and thriving.
- Create and continuously edit your brand media kits, demos, rate cards, pitches, website, etc.. Before they ask for it, make sure it’s ready. Years ago a client asked for a rate card for hosting a series of events and I didn’t have one ready. I quickly had one created by my graphic designer but delivered it to the client four days later. Four days may seem like nothing to some, but to a brand leader it’s a lifetime. That never happened again. My turnaround time for any assets like these needed by a client is same day if not within hours. If I can’t deliver something I always respond and communicate with the client on when they can expect feedback. Don’t ignore the people that pay you for your work. Another nugget: you should constantly polish these assets to keep them fresh and current to reflect your latest projects and work.
- Use social media to your advantage to connect with your audience, potential clients and to build an organic audience. How? Remember that social media is free. Use those tools to your advantage to let your audience know what your business has to offer. You can easily grow your reach, that way and can offer one on one interaction with your audience, which is always a plus. If you’re an online boutique for example, clients may want to know about sizes, delivery, etc. Welcome those questions and be accessible with the answers.
- Your Follow-up and Follow-through game should be flawless. As simple as this sounds, you’d be blown away by how many clients tell me that it often takes days or weeks to hear back from potential people that they want to work with. Crazy right! That saying is true: often it’s not the most talented person who get the work, project or job, it’s the most consistent. This factor alone keeps clients coming back and creates repeat business. Follow-up and follow-through and do it with a smile… I can’t say it enough!
- Stay open to smaller opportunities and take the small gigs. They often turn into bigger opportunities that you didn’t see coming. Again, simple but effective. While you’re focused on that big partnership, big deal, big synergy, be open to smaller ones. They can often open the doors to new people and new connections that can help propel you on your journey.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have a one size fits all playbook, but what I’ve come to learn is that success as an entrepreneur often involves the same basic fundamentals regardless of how large your business is. So, have a plan and continue to polish and chisel that plan often. A mentor of mine mentioned something that I still utilize to this day. He said, ‘pursue your goals with passion but always be malleable about how you’re going to get to the end result”. Define what success means to you and be ok with the evolution of that idea. It’s easy to get bogged down with the one concept that you had initially, but being malleable about how you get to that destination will ultimately be how you achieve that goal.
You see, staying ready really comes down to preparing for the success that you crave. If you can visualize it, it’s already yours. Prepare and polish constantly, then release the results of your hard work and preparation to the universe and watch things flow in your direction!
Cheers to us; the risk takers, creators and innovators going for it without seeing the entire stairwell but somehow we know we’ll always land on our feet!
Wishing you all the best of luck (as they call it) on your journey!