If you’ve been in PR for a while, you may be entertaining the prospect of going solo and starting your own small business, or representing yourself instead of working for a company.
It can be a very exciting prospect and the thought of being your own boss (although you still need clients) is extremely attractive. However, you need to consider the following before you embark on your journey alone:
Basic business skills
It doesn’t matter how good you are at PR or how much of a portfolio you’ve amassed, you still need to know how to run a company. You need a basic knowledge of accounting, sales, business development, customer service and insurance (you won’t have the option of being able to seek compensation for an injury at work if you’re self-employed). You should read books in as many different business domains as you can, as well as talk to as many business owners as possible.
What’s your selling point?
There are countless PR agencies with which you’ll be competing against, so you need to develop a marketing strategy that makes you stand out among the competition. This can be as varied as having a speciality, to being the closest and most reliable firm, to just targeting local businesses. Keep in mind that your competitive advantage should be as sustainable as possible.
Can you handle the slowness?
Keep in mind that you will be going from a busy workplace to wherever your new office is — most likely a room in your house or a flat. You should remember that you may never be surrounded by as many people as in your previous office, but that’s okay, as it’s just the cost of going solo. If you need brainstorming and interpersonal relationships to work well, going solo may not be right for you and you should reconsider. However, if you can work well in both a team, and by yourself, you may thrive running your small business.
Is your network strong enough?
Before you start, you’ll need a site designer/webmaster with SEO knowledge, a printer, a lawyer, an accountant and a graphic designer, at the very least. You’ll probably need a lot more than that (e.g. an administrator), especially if you are in demand from clients, so it’s important to start building a network you can trust. You could use sites like Fiverr to find a graphic designer, but the results on that platform aren’t always consistent and there is no guarantee you will meet your deadline. Instead, you should look into developing long and productive relationships with each contact in your network.
Setting price points
The final thing to think about is often a secondary thought for most people, but it can make or break a company. In your previous job, you will have been paid based on how much value you bring to the company and in terms of how they evaluate your experience. You don’t have the luxury of experience when starting on your own, so you should pay careful consideration to the price of your service. Create an Excel model and play around a bit, or alternatively, you can look for mentorship (there are great resources for this).