Just yesterday I happened to look at the date and couldn’t believe how quickly the first month of this New Year has flown by. With a small pause in shock, I realized that January 15th has significance far beyond just the midpoint of the month. It has now been 6 months since I resigned from my position with the Governor’s administration and launched Bennis Public Relations Inc as my full-time career. This is a milestone I’ve been anxiously awaiting to achieve. I see reaching the 6 month mark in any new business as an exceptional opportunity to review its achievements—and struggles—and to redefine the goals I have moving forward.
On July 15th, 2011, my personal “Independence Day,” I had just 3 monthly clients (and a job as a bartender). I was scared, I was unsure, but I felt more alive than I had in years. I knew I had made the right decision when long hours and less than glamorous work conditions were no obstacle—I was doing what I was most passionate about and I was surviving!
The second half of July flew by as a blur. It still hadn’t yet registered that this was a permanent change. It felt more like a long hiatus from work. In August, less than 2 months after starting the Bennis Inc Blog, I was Fresh Pressed for the first time. I was considered “the best” of 362,344 bloggers, 502,365 new posts, 442,553 comments, & 118,245,712 words posted that day on WordPress.com. This was one of the first signs I received that I was doing something right. I had talents that I was tapping into and I was inspired to keep going.
September through December were months of major changes. I moved from my tiny apartment into a place with much more room to grow. I traveled to Charlotte, DC, New York, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and Texas. I learned how to work from the road and essentially mastered the 4-hour workweek from airports and Panera Bread’s all across the United States. And did I mention I went skydiving?
In December, I had increased my business to 7 clients (plus some side projects) and was busier than ever. I upgraded to a new website and invested in some programs and subscriptions to keep me abreast of new PR techniques. But as any entrepreneur will tell you, when it rains it pours. One client’s contract ended and one of my largest clients dropped off. I was left going into the holidays wondering whether I could make ends meet to buy my family (and Pinot!) Christmas presents.
As I normally do in times of adversity, I went into survival mode. I networked, promoted and tapped into all of my resources to find work. What it resulted in is the best proof I can give any business owner that even in your darkest moments, you have to keep going. The brightest light is often right around the corner. In 3 weeks, I’ve more than tripled the number of clients I had just 6 months prior and am receiving an average of 2-3 side projects each week. I’m also involved in 3 pro-bono projects that are as rewarding as they are additional ways to network. Slowly but surely, Bennis Inc is becoming its own brand. The business that was once my delicate infant has now learned to walk and talk.
So now, standing atop the milestone of my 6-month mark, where do I want to go from here? Do I want to become a PR mogul with international offices and hundreds of employees or do I simply want a career that supports me and allows me to do what I love while working from home? Each has its own risks and rewards. And to be perfectly honest with you, and myself, I don’t have an answer beyond simply wanting to keep Bennis Inc growing in whatever direction that may lead. However, I do know the one goal I aim to keep with me every step of this entrepreneurial journey is to continue to offer services of the highest quality and to create lifelong relationships along the way.
I made this drastic life change so that I could pursue a more fulfilling life using my talents to do what I’m passionate about. The strangest result of this change I didn’t realize until right now. Since July 15th, I have not once complained about my job or dreaded the tasks that lie ahead of me. But to get here takes more than just 6 months. It takes, as Frank Lloyd Wright would say, “…dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”