Two years ago I decided it was time to strike out on my own and launch my own public relations firm. It was a period in my life that was filled with angst and trepidation. It was something I had thought about doing for more than a few years, but it was never the right time, nor the right circumstance. But circumstances were such that I needed to be there for one of my kids, and I needed a job that would provide me with the flexibility to accomplish that goal, while not exiting the workforce entirely.
I can't say it's been easy, but it hasn't been all that hard either. It wasn't like I was getting into a business I had no experience or knowledge about. I had already been working in the field of journalism and later public relations for more years than I would like to count. I didn't have much of a learning curve when it came to writing and public relations. The true learning curve came in the form of having to run a business. My dad had his own business for more than 40 years, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy. You often are the chief cook and bottle washer. I had to learn some accounting (I hate math and frankly I am not very good at it) but I had some sage counsel (my accountant) to help me. I had to file all of the proper paperwork that allows me to pay myself, and Uncle Sam. Some days I questioned my decisions and even considered going back to work for someone else.
In the last two years I have spent hours working up proposals, only to have potential clients waste my time and effort by failing to return follow-up calls after our meetings. But I also have engaged some great clients who understand the importance of public relations. Some of them are still with me after two years -- for them I am grateful.
When I need to sell raffle tickets for my daughter's school, or attend an honor roll ceremony, I can take an hour or two out of my day and do it without having to answer to a higher power. When I need to work late on a project, I can make dinner, spend quality time with the family, and then go back to my home office and work.
I have made some great contacts along the way and have been blessed with having more than a few referrals turn into clients. I look forward to working with my clients each and every day and I still get a charge out of it when I land a media hit in a publication.
For anyone who has ever thought of starting their own business my advice is: Don't wait for all of the stars to align because they never will. As long as a few of the stars are aligned, take a chance. As my mom used to say, and I tell my own children today, you will never know until you try.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.