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CVM Featured in PR News: “Starting Up Your Start-Up”

By Gretel Going

March 11, 2008

Maybe you like that your boss makes all the big decisions, that you can dash out of work right at 5 and that no one gives you any responsibility at all. Whatever you do, don’t change a thing-it sounds like you’ve got the perfect gig. On the other hand, if you’re constantly dreaming up big ideas that would never fly at your current company, or if you crave ownership of projects and clients, love working on your own terms, and are not afraid of a little uncertainty and risk, then maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Maybe it’s time to think about working for yourself.

That’s what we did. And now we are.

Two months ago, we launched Channel V Media. As we write this from our new office in Manhattan’s Tribeca, we’re looking at a to-do list a mile long, long hours and not enough sleep. We’re figuring out who we want to be and how to attract our ideal clients and when we want to hire more employees and, and, and the list goes on… But at the end of the day, we’re happy. Really.

What do you need to start your own PR firm?

Confidence: Above all, you need to believe in yourself and your abilities. Going into business for yourself isn’t for the faint of heart, so if a few rough patches and naysayers are all it takes to make you doubt yourself and your decisions, this might not be for you. Highs and lows are part of the adventure-have the perspective to take them in stride…not personally.

Experience: If you’re even thinking about going into business for yourself, chances are you have a fair amount of experience under your belt. So what’s holding you back? That nagging feeling that you need to know everything before you can possibly do it. Get over it. Even the most experienced professionals learn as they go-the most successful people are constantly learning-so take what you’ve got, throw in your common sense, your creativity and your winning ways, and go for it.

A Little Money: Or a lot, depending on your needs and ambitions for your new company. You can save money by working from home, but an office goes a long way in inspiring confidence in clients and confidence in yourself. There’s something about having a place that you go just to do work that helps it feel real. The downside? There’s a lot to pay for-computers, rent, Internet, and subscriptions to publications and services, of the purchase of technology like the Best desktop computers for the money you can find online. Plus, to make your new company official you’ll need to incorporate. And you’ll need something in the bank as back up-you don’t want to be knocked down by an unexpected hit.

A Good Server: Or a service that will stand in. We spent our first month figuring out how to get our pitches and releases out. Unless you’re starting big, you won’t be able to afford the T-1 line, the server and the tech guy necessary to make it all run smoothly (we use Lucy Solutions for our IT needs). And if you’re small, your remote server isn’t going to let you send out mass mailings. We’ve discovered JangoMail, an economical email management system that lets us send out all of our necessary communications.

Clients: Before you take the plunge, find business you can count on. And find it through your own contacts and relationships. Sure, you can leave your current job and take all of your old clients with you, but that feels a little shady. And if you have a non-compete, it’s also illegal. Since we started our firm, everyone’s asked us how we got business. “What’d you do? Steal away your old clients?” And you can tell from the tone, they’re looking for the dirt. Our sense? Avoid it. It feels really good to be able to say that we got our clients on our own and that we didn’t leave our old jobs on bad terms.

Dream Big… Even If You’re Small: Web sites and other online media allow small companies to establish a BIG presence. But even more important than the image you project are the ideas you present to your client and, ultimately, your ability to execute them. We’ve made it a rule not to let our ideas be hindered by our seemingly limited man power. We dream big and then outsource a virtual team come production time.

Vision: We’re still figuring this one out ourselves, but what’s going to make your firm stand out from all the other ones out there? Maybe you’re ruthless, maybe you know new media, maybe you know how to give clients all the TLC they could possibly need. Figure out who you are, then go after clients who share your sensibility. If your new client proposal process looks something like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, then the odds are good that even if you win new business, it’s not going to last because you’re not going to have a shared sense of purpose and values. Look for clients you really want-you’ll be invested in their success and be excited to be part of it. And they’ll feel your enthusiasm.

This article was written by Kate Fleming and Gretel Going, partners at Channel V Media.

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