For most PR practitioners, starting a firm is usually in the back of your mind as an ultimate, long-term goal. If this is one of your goals, then you’re in luck! Starting a firm costs much less than starting any other business because you’re charging for your services and you can work from home. After speaking with a professor who has successfully started his own firm almost a year ago I gained even more insight into the process.
The hours that you will put in to begin your firm will certainly be long at first, upwards of fifty hours a week, and you will probably be the sole employee working on projects in order to keep costs down. However, you will start a firm because PR is something that you love, and working towards building your own business will make the hours completely worth it!
To begin you must develop a business plan and find clients. A lot of research must be done to develop your business plan correctly. To be sure that you don’t miss a step it may be wise to employ the knowledge of entrepreneurial programs at local business schools to help you iron out the details of your plan. Our guest speaker at a Temple PRSSA meeting who began a very successful firm in Philadelphia some twenty years ago employed the help of the Wharton business school when developing her plan.
Finding clients may be a little harder than developing your business plan, however. My professor scouted for clients through networking as well as doing ‘drop-ins’. If he felt a certain person or business could benefit from his services he would make himself known to them and leave all of his contact information with them. This process for him resulted in two lasting clients. If you’re leaving a firm to work for yourself, however, be sure not to contract any clients who may not be free to work with you because of legal agreements with your previous employer. The quickest way to ruin your chance at starting your own firm is to show that you’re not ethical!
The best thing about starting a firm is the opportunity to work from home if you wish. You will only have a few bare necessities to begin working. Access to the internet, a reliable computer and printer, phone line and fax line are the essentials, as well as a subscription to a website where you can access media information, like Cision Media Database. Investing in a letterhead, business cards and a website are also very helpful in marketing your new firm with a professional edge.
It is important to have a decent working knowledge of the internet, search engines, and various upcoming social media sights like blogs, Linked-In, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. If they aren’t already, these will soon be important parts of both public relations and marketing campaigns, and cannot be overlooked by small firms as a quick and easy way to reach countless numbers of people.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm staff member, Brianna Fisher.