A lot has happened since starting Nao a couple years ago. We’ve gone from a company that thought it was all about tweeting and doing Facebook status updates for small businesses to a rockin’ hybrid firm doing custom design, brand monitoring/reporting for big brands, business management for media stars and preparing the release of books in 2013. We have truly been blessed. Some small doors have closed which allowed us to take advantage of the opening of new huge-mongous (lol) doors. This is due to good relationships (we are in the relationship business after all) and quality clients who saw the value and referred people in their network to us. Here are several things that I’ve learned in these two years since starting Nao:
1. Having a career that new knowledge can be instantly applied to is friggin’ amazing. As a serial tinkerer, I’m living my dream every day.
2. Every sale is not a good sale. Only take on clients/projects that you’re passionate about. There are several things that go into this. If your client doesn’t believe in themselves at their core, there’s nothing you as a non-clinical advisor can do for them. If your client can’t teach you anything, it’s most likely not worth it (yes, you should learn something from your clients … if you’re not, then you need to assess the nature and quality of the relationship). If your client doesn’t see the value, you’re wasting each other’s time. It also helps if you like your clients as people. This isn’t always possible for PSFs but try.
3. Raise your damn prices! Getting paid is not evil. If you’re not able to keep your clients around or gain new clients while raising your rates, it means your services are lacking or you’re doing a poor job showing the value. For any outlying clients who think of your service as a commodity (and it’s really not), drop them asap. Keep the best and lose the rest. This sounds harsh but this will save you a ton of stress and time in the long run. Lastly, focus on your strengths that bring in the bacon. This doesn’t mean to lack diversity in your offerings, but do more of what you do best (especially if you get great margins for the service).
4. Strategic partnerships are like manna from Heaven. This relates to point #3. If your clients are asking for a particular service and if you’re comfortable providing it to them, consider outsourcing the service to another firm. We currently have a strategic partner for music licensing services (Shelly Bay Music) and we’re Everspark Interactive’s strategic partner for various services including social media (consulting, training, management, monitoring and reporting) and email marketing.
5. Always think about scaling. I keep scaling Nao at the top of my mind at all times. This involves delegating and innovating your service offerings. This also involves knowing how to avoid low quality clients and projects.
6. If you have a hunch that a person isn’t right for your staff, do what you can to amicably remove them from their duties as soon as possible. Leaders… Trust your gut on this. You have to keep the right people on the bus.
7. Admit your mistakes quickly. Resolve them quickly. Learn from them so they never happen again. If they happen again, take notes on what caused the setback.
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I’ve personally learned a ton. My teammates can say the same. Watch out world… we’re STILL learning! Our team has grown in size and as savvy intrapreneurs. Word to Gary Vaynerchuk… We’ve been “crushing it” and we won’t stop.
To all those who have supported Nao with their work, business and guidance, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
2012 clients, supporters and mentors… Your thank you cards are on the way. Naomi is hard at work on them (see above). 🙂