Going solo. An attractive, yet equally scary proposition for us practitioners. Having flown solo myself between job searches, I enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss (of course reporting to my clients). Nonetheless, the business card and masthead on the news release read, ByrnesPR & Media Services. Then there was the other, pragmatic side for me. Security. A regular paycheck. Health insurance for my family. Ultimately, for me, working for someone is what I would rather do. When the day comes when I decide to stop working full-time, I’ll have the muscle of having worked for myself and decide if that’s what I want for an encore career.
What about those of you thinking of being a solopreneur, particularly during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic? To help you navigate your options, our PRSA Detroit chapter convened the expertise of three practitioners who shared their journey and wisdom on being a solo during a recent webinar.
Janine Krasicky Sadaj-J9 Media Solutions
For Janine (owner J9 Media Solutions), her road to being a solo was triggered through two job transitions. In 2003, Janine decided she was ready to go out on her own. All these years later, she relishes the decision to be her own CEO. “I love the fact that I can set my own parameters about the kind of work that I want to do,” Janine shared, noting that she particularly enjoys serving her nonprofit organizations as well as the auto and tech clients in her stable of work at J9 Media Solutions. Before becoming a solopreneur though, Janine said it is vital to do your homework prior to deciding.
“Reach out to your network and talk with other solo business owners so you can learn more about the reality of what it takes to successfully stay in business. Going it alone is not for everybody,” she said. Among her other tips:
- Have an emergency account to help withstand downturns and unexpected events
- Build a team of consultants and freelancers (graphic designers, SEO specialists and finance experts, to name a few, to help you when work is rolling in or you need a vacation).
Melanie Williams-Bowers- Guru Public Relations Events & Concierge
For Melanie Williams-Bowers, she knew early on she wanted to be an entrepreneur and that public relations was going to be her career vocation. Melanie launched her firm in 2007, which caters to small businesses, grassroots PR and event marketing. Of her keys to solo success, she said planning is paramount.
“You have to have a plan and be willing to keep learning our craft,” Melanie said during the webinar. While echoing Janine’s notion that solo work is not for everyone, Melanie added that finding work/life balance is critical for solos as it is for those of us who work for someone.
“I remember times being in bed asleep with my laptop,” she reflected. “It’s important to learn to decipher. Because your solo, doesn’t mean you are working 24/7,” Melanie said. Nonetheless, her work has drawn notice. Her accomplishments include being honored by dbusiness magazine in one of their classes of 30 in their 30’s as well as having worked on a host of local and national events ranging from the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce Sankofa Awards to gigs with Steve Harvey and Tom Joyner.
Ta Quinda Johnson-Founder T. Marie Media Group-Social Media Specialist Eastern Michigan University
A passion for PR is what drove TaQuinda Johnson to our profession, dating back to her time as a student at Eastern Michigan University. Having an interest in faith-based organizations, she implemented a grassroots marketing and public relations campaign for a local Christian production company. The campaign caught the attention of performance artists in the industry, planting the seed for the eventual germination of TaQuinda’s solo practice, T. Marie Media Group.
“Do a self-audit, a SWOT analysis if you will, of what you love to do in our profession,” said TaQuinda. “At that point, you can assess where you could have a solo practice and as, Melanie said, put together a plan to go forward.” In addition to developing her solo practice which has included faith-based, automotive, educational and lifestyle clients, TaQuinda returned to EMU three years ago and provides services as a social media specialist and periodic guest lecturer.
The insights provided by Janine, Melanie and TaQuinda were appreciated by the online audience which included Stephen Koller, a chapter member now in Germany, after he landed a position with an auto supplier. The success stories of Janine, Melanie and TaQuinda are an inspiration to anyone considering making the move to going solo. You can get more information on being a solo practitioner on national’s website at www.prsa.org.
Kevin Byrnes is the Content Supervisor for the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). He also has served as PR/Communications Consultant through his practice, ByrnesPR & Media Services. Kevin is a member of the Detroit PRSA chapter (national as well) and serves on the blog committee.
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