It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘entrepreneur’

Your Startup Is Bigger Than You

After interviewing high level business pioneers and making headway on their book, here’s a big take-away: Most people have heard the phrase, “Know your *WHY* ” But what does it really mean and how do you apply it for sustainable success?

strategy

A little history lesson in product/service development and sales: Most young entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that their innovative product is king. Wrong. Others think it’s about the content–make sure your marketing and branding strategies are on-point, and you can fill the box with just about anything. Wrong. Oh, you might find a limited amount of profit and success that way, but you’ll also find it fizzling out, and you’ll need to scramble to find the next big thing to saty in the game, virtually starting over from scratch. That’s not sustainability. That’s grit (which is a great quality, but it’s not sustainability).

Instead, “Know your *WHY*” dictates that you understand what you want your product or service to do, and you get committed to that outcome. For instance, your *WHY* may be that you want to help people come together and connect at a table together, share stories and build relationships, because people are feeling alone and disconnected. That’s your *WHY* To answer that, you might productize bottles of wine for people to share together, but what your selling is a social tool meant to provide a shared experience more than a mere product or service.

Also, to really be sustainable, your *WHY* can’t just be about something that’s meaningful to you in a vacuum. It needs to be responsive to or reflective of a cultural need. In this case, data show that people want to put money in experiences and they crave connection. So, your *WHY* of wanting to help people come together and connect at a table, share stories and build relationships answers the cultural need for interpersonal connection and shared experiences.

Now, here’s the thing, because your focus is on your *WHY* and not the singular product (e.g. wine), when you expand or scale and decide to add new products/services to your offerings, they needn’t be more wine. They merely have to be reflective of your *WHY* So, a social club, exotic tours and retreats, books designed for book clubs and other groups, film festivals and other events, etc. all can be positioned to answer your *WHY* keeping you relevant even if drinking wine goes out of style (Although, I dare not think of such a travesty!).

#startup #whystatement #scale #strategicplanning #thinkbig #business #entrepreneur #legacycompany

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Daphne’s List of 7 – Tips for starting freelance writing

I’ve received a lot of requests lately–people wanting me to give them leads to start freelance writing. Truthfully, there are some really credible books out there on the subject, some even targeted towards the niche of writing you would like to do: Amazon.com (or just do an Amazon.com book search on “freelance writing, and take note of the various dropdown options for a more specialized search).

Here are some tips that might help you should you decide to begin freelance writing:

  1. Electronic versions of writing samples–develop a blog. WordPress and Typepad are two platforms that I’d recommend highly. Be certain to use categories so that people can easily find various subjects that you may have experience with (e.g. movie critiques, food, travel, politics, economics, celebrities, community profiles, local issues, etc.). If you do other types of freelance writing, have those categories listed with samples also, such as copywriting, press releases, business plans, reports, analytics, etc. If they have been published elsewhere (big bonus), be sure to cite that and include the link or details of the publication. Also, be certain to have both MS Word and PDF versions of your sample copies available to send as attachments in emails and to print to have in a hardcopy portfolio.
  2. Keep writing–even if you don’t have someone else to publish your stuff yet, write and post it on your own blog. Develop and cover stories, craft articles, conduct interviews, delve into citizen journalism. Be certain to always cover unique and compelling angles to stories. If you’re freelance writing for other types of media such as brochures, press releases and business plans, do the same thing. Keep writing, and keep putting yourself out there.
  3. Get published–this is the only way to truly build your credibility. What being published says is that someone else thought enough about your work to spread it around under their name. Often times it even means that they thought enough of your work to pay you for the opportunity to spread it around under their name. Even if it’s just a blog or community newspaper that won’t pay you for your work, it’s a start. You get a byline. Patch.com and Thoughtcatalogue.com are two such places you might try, depending on your subject matter. Again, if you’re doing more business-oriented writing, then vs. getting published, get clients. Volunteer to do work for free for nonprofits you like. Get noticed, network and begin building a reputation if you don’t already have one.
  4. Get work–query article ideas to publishers that cover topics that align with your niche. Send a link of sample writing to blogs and such that you read regularly, and ask if they would be interested in a freelance article from you. Scan through Craigslist and similar sites that post jobs and gigs for writers–you’ll find a lot of garbage, but there’s quite a bit of legit stuff there, too. Similar for business writing freelancing. Put yourself out there, and hunt for opportunities. Oh, and network. Talk to people–real, live people. Tell them about you and what you do and what you want (a very quick elevator pitch). Be friendly and generous, and you find others will be friendly and generous in return.
  5. Build credibility and branding–be the go-to person not only for your clients and potential clients but also for others in your field. Blog not only what you write but also about your writing and the business of it all. Develop a following and a network of colleagues. Pitch joint projects to share specialties and resources. Give freely of ideas and innovations–you might think you’re going to give too much–do give too much. You will cash in on the bigger picture, being the source of all of those great ideas and innovations. Your reputation as the go-to person will grow, and you will be noted as an “expert” in your field.
  6. Be in demand–once you’ve been published for a steady amount of time, you will begin demanding increased pay for your work, provided you’re actually worth it. So do always keep working to improve your craft, and listen carefully to constructive criticism and feedback. You may not always like or agree with it, but it’s invaluable stuff. Always ask for it. You might learn something that will supercharge your work and take it to big places. Also, read. Read everything, and study how the big players do your job. Once your demand builds, and so too will your  pay, be very delicate when you have to shed your lower paying gigs to have room to take on higher paying ones. Remember the hands that helped you to grow. No one likes an ingrate, and it can bite you hard later on. Offer to continue giving them some articles once in a while for good measure. Keep doors open and relationships positive. Mend those that have been damaged as possible as much as possible. This too will influence your reputation and build your overall demand.
  7. Stay hungry–keeping your operation lean and mean no matter how much or how little cash comes in the door, it will serve you well to avoid getting jaded. Not about the subject-matter and not about the business. Continue to crave, be imaginative and stay curious–stay hungry. This way, there is little chance you will soon become irrelevant.

I’ve spent 11 years writing in the nonprofit and for profit business environment, and I am a communications junkie. I had a mentor throughout much of this time who helped me develop a reputation within certain circles in the community that have greatly helped my success in freelancing. Not only those individuals, but knowing how to network and build and sustain those relationships have proved to be a critical tool. Therefore, I had an advantage when I made the leap from full-time employee to full-time freelancer–an advantage not many others have.

I also was not hesitant to take on a small overnight job that allowed me time to write on shift to help with cashflow during slow times and also to build a little savings to get me through future slow times. And, there will be slow times. I also have to take balance very seriously–balancing time for play, sleep, wellness, deadlines, self-promotion and hunting for the next big opportunity.

Freelance writing for a living isn’t for everyone–it’s a full-time job x 2. Possibly more when you first get started, just like any small business entrepreneur. You are an army of one, so must make time for all of the needs of the one, or you will burn out and ultimately fail in some definition of that word. And, still, that’s okay. Failure is the greatest teacher if you allow her to be. So, if you bite it on a deadline or two, or you bomb a story or things just don’t work out–it’s okay. Do an autopsy of the situation–find out what went wrong, then, learn from it.

You’ll get better… and that’s success.

Lessons from a freelancer–balance & support

What have I learned so far as a fulltime freelancer? Balance is everything. Balancing time, projects, priorities, personal and professional life, etc. In the end, balance has been the lesson, and I’m getting better at it.

It’s easy to spend your waking hours on business development strategies, branding, pitching for projects, networking–oh and then actually doing the projects. And, in the very beginning, I think you almost have to do this. Afterall, it’s survival here–you have to get work in the door and work lined up and people wanting to work with you to keep paying your bills and to feel safe in knowing that you can keep paying your bills. But, once that’s achieved, you need to know when to tap the breaks a bit and slow down to a comfortable cruise versus the high-speed chase.

You also need to balance time networking, marketing, pitching and branding with “doing” the work and knowing how much work you can take on, what resource you have if you end up with more on your plate than you can handle.

On the one hand, it’s my job to drum up business and keep getting projects in the door. Afterall, I’m a freelancer, so without new projects, I’m without cashflow. On the other hand, I am an army of one, so making sure I balance out projects and deadlines is critical while I’m always keeping an eye out for new ones. <–This all may seem obvious, but there’s a point here…

In an age where more and more freelancers and entrepreneurs are budding up, a real skill, once you’re certain you have something valuable to offer and others know it too, is planning for success. Many more businesses fail because success came, and they weren’t prepared for it, than people might think. It’s not always that the clients don’t come and the contracts fall through, etc. Often times it’s overcommitment leading to missed deadlines, broken promises and failed deliverables that shuts down an operation.

I’ve not fallen victim to either fate, yet, and I remain cautious, making sure to say “no” and to make certain that I never have more than three projects on my plate at once and no more than three more in the pipeline to maintain a successful balance. And that’s just my personal guideline–I know myself. Others may be able to handle more or less, but it’s important to know what that number is, or risk biting it and facing failure.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, keep other resources on hand–other freelancers or partners outside of you that you can send projects to or work with in case you need the extra set of hands, eyes and brains. Not only do you need to have backup plans for when your deadlines become too much, but also it’s important to plan for being human–illnesses, personal and family crises, etc. Develop a professional support system/back-up plan for emergencies.

Truthfully, though I try to plan and maintain a healthy network of colleagues for mutual support, I still make mistakes, and not everything runs as smoothly as I like, and outcomes aren’t always the slam-dunk I  anticipated. Mostly, though, I’m finding increased success in this crazy freelancing journey–for me and my clients. And that’s awesome. Here’s to progress!

You cannot succeed if you don’t take a risk,

and without failure, you’re not likely to learn much or get any better.

A SMALL WORD ON DAMAGE CONTROL

 

Be the messenger

 

 

Be the messenger. If you are the source of the leak, you have a better advantage in framing it, controling content and reducing the overall sting. The main objective: reduce the impact of the message. Make it common and therefore not so newsworthy. Also, Comment on reports of the message often. Correct misinformation and continue to control the content and frame. Chances are, the gossip wil fizzle out before it gets its wings. And if it takes flight despite your efforts, you’ll be a few steps ahead, piloting the plane and plotting a safe landing.

The real damage begins when you are not prepared for the gossip, you didn’t predict possible pitfalls, and you’re left playing catch-up to the rumors after they began spreading. This leaves you in a position of reacting, which makes it difficult to keep a cool strategic head. The likelyhood of ever being able to gain control of the situation when it starts like this is slim to none.

Lastly, try to have eyes and ears everywhere. Know who you can trust, and always report mishaps rapidly upstream. While reputations can usually be rebuilt and public trust reestablished, it’s better to not be in that position at all if possible.

A solid communications plan addressing damage control will help you and/or your company predict potential risks of damage and allow you and your team to rapidly unfold a well-plotted damage control plan vs. reacting at every turn in fear and uncertainty.

Who is Daphne Street?

Daphne Street

About who I am:

Daphne Taylor Street is a freelance writer, blogger, grant/proposal writer, nonprofit development consultant, communications consultant, public speaker and internet radio personality in the Tampa Bay area. She has been a professional in the nonprofit industry for more than 18 years, spanning everything from fine and performing arts to substance abuse and mental health services. In the summer of 2011, Daphne left her full-time job as a grant writer to pursue her freelance writing and communications consulting business in full-force, and added her former employer as a client.

 

WHAT DOES DAPHNE DO? Daphne’s focus is on strengthening her local community and beyond through dynamic business strategies, creating value for businesses while helping to develop diverse revenue streams.

 

To further this goal, Daphne works hand in hand with small businesses, nonprofits and artists; armed with a background in communications, marketing, private sector funding procurement and nonprofit development; to help them amplify their branding and communications to increase overall business sustainability and growth.

 

RESULTS: Daphne’s grant and proposal writing services have resulted in millions of dollars of local, state, federal and foundation awards and private sector funding, spanning 14 years of experience.

 

Countless new business offerings, programs, products and services have come to life through Daphne’s visionary approach to matching a company’s mission and strengths with opportunities for growth, enhancement and expansion.

 

Daphne is regularly published as an author through a variety of media and has ghost-written, co-authored and written published articles on behalf of many clients, further positioning them as experts in their field. Daphne currently has two books under development, co-authored with a client.

 

Daphne’s copywriting and graphic design skills are engaging and action-oriented, amplifying brands from diverse industries.

 

Combined, these strategies have generated revenue; lead to procuring private investments, grants and contracts; and helped businesses survive and grow.

You can visit Daphne on her blog: www.daphnestreet.wordpress.com; check her out on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/daphnestreet; or contact her directly via email: dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.
A link to some published articles:
Services:
  • Freelance Writing: articles, blogging, grants, proposals, books, business writing, press releases, business plans, strategic plans, communications plans, marketing plans, white papers, copywriting, research, editing
  • Communications Consulting: strategy, implementation, collaborations/community partnerships, media relations, new media/social networking, crisis management
  • Training/Public Speaking: writing for dollars, winning proposals, winning presentations, media literacy, freelance writing, grants/nonprofit development, communications/marketing, community development, personal branding, internet safety, social marketing
  • Design: photo journalism & graphic design: logos, multi-media presentations/PowerPoint, posters, brochures, web design

Please feel free to contact me directly at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com

Dare to be great!  –Daphne

Daphne’s List of 7 (Part 1): Communications Strategies for Visionary Professionals

Daphne’s List of Seven (Part 1):

Top Seven Steps Towards a Comprehensive External Communications Strategy: For Visionary Professionals

Communicate YOU!

1. Determine one over-arching key message that defines everything you/your business does and stands for. Keep it genuine and values-centered. This message is a part of your branding and should not change unless determined that it is absolutely necessary.

2. From this, determine two – three key messages that target a specific audience, product/service you offer or initiative that you/your business is championing. This should directly branch off from the over-arching key message mentioned above and reflect the same values. These messages can change as products/services or initiatives change, launch or are emphasized, etc.

3. Media watch—pick three key topics that directly pertain to your business for you and your representatives to watch in media. This includes traditional media such as TV, newspapers, etc. and new media such as blogs and social networks.

4. Divide this media “chatter” by how your company will respond to this media content:

a) Using data from newly released reports/studies to craft your own position and statement using this data;
b) Supporting an initiative, idea, activity, etc. and including a fresh perspective or compelling story directly related to your business;
c) Denouncing an initiative, idea, activity, etc., including a fresh perspective or compelling story directly related to your business

5. Decide on the best avenue for addressing this media you’ve identified:

a) Press releases to staff writers, TV or radio
b) Query a feature story from a columnist, TV station
c) Draft a letter to the editor
d) Draft an article for a community publication
e) Submit an OpEd article as a guest columnist
f) Request TV interview
g) Request radio interview
h) New media: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

6. Offensive media tactic—at least once per month, take an offensive stance on media relations. Utilizing the strategies d in number 5, pick unique angles on a story your business is passionate about, and work to get coverage in each of these media sectors.

7. Be the news—develop citizen journalism strategies to continue to get your messages out there. Think new media implementation. Write blogs and respond to blogs. Post on Twitter and Facebook. Use pictures. Develop a Vlog on YouTube. If your story will draw a broad audience, consider utilizing OhMyNews.com or other citizen journalism sites.

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