Emma Lupton and Lindsey Davies launching Open Communications in 2008.
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this fact but running a business isn’t easy. In fact, sometimes it can be quite the headache. There is so much to think about.
When you first start it’s strange because you have what feels like all the time in the world and things are still exciting. All you want at this stage is to be established, to be taken seriously and to run as a ‘real business’.
Conversely, when you are more established with the necessary processes and procedures in place, you crave that time that you had to take a step back and to consider your options. At this stage, not only are you now responsible for what you would hope to be a successful business, but you are likely to have staff, as well as clients, to think about.
The best analogy I can use is that it’s like getting married. When you’re planning your wedding it’s full on but exciting, you then go on honeymoon and it’s all new – you feel nervous but you know that you’ve made the right decision. A few years down the line and the washing on the floor is becoming annoying, the house never seems to be clean and it doesn’t matter how many times you tell them to put the lid on the toothpaste it never seems to happen – yet you still love them.
And that’s why it’s so important that when you start a business you believe in what you do.
Don’t make it up, make it count
When you start a business, you have to truly and passionately commit to delivering results for your clients. You have to know that the advice that you are giving them is the very best that you can offer and that you will stand accountable if things don’t work out quite how you planned.
No one is perfect but when you run a business you often feel as if you should be. In PR there are so many people that you need to consider; business partners, employees, clients, journalists and the public.
Increasingly the public are relying on journalists, and therefore by association PRs, to deliver honest news. It’s a challenge – there is no time for editors or sub-editors to fact check everything and news is so instantaneous that it’s no longer about quality but about first to ‘the post’ – literally. Who posts the news online first wins, but do they?
We all need to work together to make sure that we deliver a service that for us (PRs) meets with the client’s objectives and for journalists delivers a story based on fact that their audience are going to want to read and share.
Using your passion to share news
This leads me back to my first point, in order to deliver good, quality news you need to create a business that you believe in.
We are very fortunate as an agency to have clients that have values that are aligned with our own. They are fundamentally to do a good job and to do it well. Here at Open Comms, our mantra tends to be: forget air kissing and going out for lunch, let’s celebrate when we’ve got the results, not before.
I’ve noticed recently that over the last (almost) ten years we have attracted similar kinds of people and we now have an incredibly strong network of associates, suppliers and clients that we trust. Beyond that, many of them we can now confidently refer to as friends. This isn’t something we take for granted, it’s something that we are immensely proud of.
The truth is that we couldn’t have done this if we were living a lie. Again, I go back to a marriage. If you were marrying for money or your head was turned by another, yet you still went through with it, before long it would show. People would realise that you were being disingenuous and that what comes out of your mouth is not necessarily reflected in your eyes (my nanna always said to trust the eyes not the mouth – wise woman).
We always say that passion is infectious (we’ve finished with the marriage analogy now!) and that you can sense the energy when people talk about their product or service and how much it means to them.
My advice to anyone starting a business would be to believe. Put your heart and soul into the planning and create a list of values that you intend to be governed by. Be honest, both to yourself and to others.
Having a business isn’t easy but when you truly believe in what you are trying to do and the service that you deliver, then I see no reason why you cannot be the success that you set out to be. This will also resonate in the future when you want to give up – and there will be times – it will be easier to get through and to move on knowing that your business is founded on solid principles that mean something to you and to your customers.