Managing Your First Self-Employed Month

September 5, 2017

Starting your own business involves a series of benchmarks.

There’s the pre-launch period, which can begin years before you start your independent practice or be the time between getting laid off from a job and landing your next writing project. There’s the first six months, often the amount of time it takes to secure a solid base of business that generates revenue to cover your expenses. And there’s the one-year anniversary, a major benchmark for every startup.

But somewhere in between is your first 30 days, that initial business cycle after you’ve taken the plunge into independent life.

For veteran communicator Steven Gotfried, who in March started The Gotfried Group, a Phoenix-based strategic communications and PR firm, those first 30 days were transformative.
“For the first time in my career I felt like I had total control,” he said. “It was freeing and uplifting. Because I was strategic in the way I launched the agency — teasing my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn followers that a big announcement was coming — the announcement brought an immediate outpouring of support from friends, family and business acquaintances. I announced the news on Tuesday and by Friday I had a referral, which became my first client, and a meeting with a prospect.”

But he was also surprised in those initial weeks by how long it took to complete each task on his own for the first time, such as writing a proposal and creating a contract.

“Even things I had done hundreds of times in the past, like issuing a press release or developing a messaging guide, initially took longer than expected because I was establishing new processes,” he said. “It was a bit frustrating because I felt like I was running through mud each time. But once I had gone through the process, subsequent times met my time expectations.”

Gotfried prepared extensively for his launch, but he didn’t wait for every detail to be covered beforehand.

“I decided early in the preparation process that my primary goal would be to have all the work completed that would impact my ability to hit the ground running with new-business development and meeting client needs,” he said. “That work was anchored by developing a brand strategy, which dovetailed into creating my logo, colors, website and social media channels. It also included having my contacts categorized and prioritized for how I was going to contact them. I contacted reporters who I have worked with over the years to let them know where they could find me.

“I held all the back-office stuff, like bookkeeping, banking and administrative templates, until after I launched. In between business-development work, I spent time each day addressing these items.”

Gotfried’s first priority was to create awareness of his new business with possible clients or contacts who could refer him to others. By taking a disciplined and systematic approach to business development, he was able to build early momentum that is already giving him a healthy balance among his client-billable work, business-development activities and administrative responsibilities.

“As I approached each task for the first time, I asked myself if the approach would transfer to when I will have more clients and employees,” he said. “After completing the item, I would spend a few minutes creating a process or procedure that can be repeated over and over again.”

Tim O'Brien, APR

Tim O’Brien, APR, owns O’Brien Communications, an independent corporate communications practice in Pittsburgh, and hosts the “Shaping Opinion” podcast. Email: Twitter: @OBrienPR.


Marty Rozelle says:

I appreciate Steve's strategy and thoughtfulness as he approached his business and in his first 30 days. 20 years ago I left a big international firm to start by own business . Mostly I was terrified and wish I had the foresight to strategize the way Steve has and is doing. It will be fun to see where he goes in the next 20 years!

Oct. 23, 2017

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