I fell into this whole AEC marketing racket 22 years ago and didn’t think I would be around as long as I have. So much for the 5 year plan of patenting the next Pet Rock or marrying rich…LOL.
Over the past few years, I’ve had conversations with folks about how things were “back then” and it reminds me of a comedy bit I watched on TV when I was in college when the comedian talked about his uncle chiming in about “I remember when we didn’t have…” and I thought about the things we take for granted now.
- Email – how did we get stuff? Snail mail usually but if you needed it “now” then fax was the way to go. If you were dealing with a lot of paper then your options were messenger or FedEx.
- LinkedIn – I remember “cold calling” companies and hoping for the best when I needed to find the person “responsible for” [name task here].
- Mapquest/Google Maps – when I was in Driver’s Ed, the instructor dedicated a class (or a portion of the class) to us reading a map to navigate between points A & B. We had to get one of those folding maps and not the map book. You were on your own in terms of estimating ETA, tolls and other traffic conditions.
- Google Docs/Microsoft Cloud/iCloud – there was a time when everything you did resided on the computer you were using at that particular time. Maybe you had the foresight to save a copy on a floppy disk (remember those) or a flash drive. Now you can access all of this stuff from your phone (assuming you saved a copy onto the cloud).
- Google/Yahoo/Bing – there’s a place called the library that you went to for information on various things, provided you had the patience to use the card catalog, microfiche, etc. Now there’s likely to be an archive for whatever information you’re seeking.
- Google Earth – if you wanted to get an idea of what’s surrounding the vicinity of the area you’re going to, you are either counting on a friend’s recommendation or you’re figuring it out when you get there.
- GrubHub – you gotta eat. Calling up a place to 1) see if they’re open, 2) see if they deliver to you, and 3) hope that they get your order right was the way to do things and now we don’t want to talk to anybody.
It’s wild how far we’ve come in terms of putting our everyday tasks online. We’re able to automate certain things but instead of freeing up time, we’re finding more things to do.
I’m a few weeks late for this post but my 7th anniversary was on March 18th.
My business has experienced a whirlwind of activity but has realized steady progress in recent years.
There are things I have learned about myself and have surprised myself when things seemed really turbulent and uncertain.
I’m thankful for the ones who have supported me and the clients who continue to include me on projects.
Looking forward to growth.
Turns out that I’m 4 days shy of making 2 years since my last blog posting and that’s pretty damn sad. Folks who know me personally are aware of what I’ve been doing but similar to the analogy of the shoemaker’s kids, my blog has been neglected.
A similar analogy can relate to those of you who are Catholic and have gone to confession, there’s that painful admission on how long it’s been since the last time you had a sit-down with a priest.
Since 2014, I have done a considerable amount of consulting for various AEC clients but I have also done a number of public sector projects as a subconsultant (once again, if you know me personally, you might’ve see me at some events) including:
- The 2014 and 2015 CUNY/CUCF Conferences (I have a conflict that is preventing me from participating in this year’s conference)
- The 2014 PSEG Long Island Energy Efficiency Conference
- The 2015 Competitive Edge Conference
- The 2014 and 2015 NYS MWBE Forum. I recently started working on this year’s event taking place on October 5th & 6th in Albany.
- The Construction Mentorship Program (sponsored by the NYC Department of Small Business Services
I celebrated the 6th anniversary of my business in March and I can’t complain.
Continuing to plug away at different opportunities.
It’s been an interesting road that’s consisted of a wide range of emotions, accomplishments and challenges.
When I started the business in 2010, it was a leap of faith. I was at a crossroads; the job market left much to be desired and I had a choice of either going through the motions of taking another job or taking a stab at entreprenuership.
My first year of business was spent trying to make sense of everything; I took a whole bunch of classes through SCORE the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and NYCSBS (Small Business Services) as well as securing a couple of clients.
I was busy during my second year of business on various consulting assignments. I also secured MWBE certifications and DBE certification so I could build a portfolio of government agency projects.
The past year has been a challenge for me. I was impacted by Hurricane Sandy and my family was displaced. My husband and I were dealing with repairs to our home as well as working on our respective businesses. It goes without saying that I was drained mentally and emotionally but I knew that I had to continue plugging away in order to return to a “sense of normalcy.”
So far, 2014 has been a polar opposite of 2013. I have been busy on a few projects, waiting for other projects to start, and proposing on potential projects. Seeing the potential of what lies ahead makes me glad that I didn’t give up when the odds seemed stacked against me.
At this point, I’m pretty optimistic about the future and am thankful for the ones who have supported me on this journey.
If you know me personally and have seen me recently, you might’ve noticed that I dropped some weight. I’m down about 65 pounds to date and it’s been a long road. I joined Weight Watchers in February, started running and have been more diligent about going to the gym. I realized that I needed to do a combination of things to get results. I was thinking about parallelisms between what gets addressed at Weight Watchers as well as my training that could apply to business.
- Have an accountability partner. This doesn’t have to be “structured” like Weight Watchers but by sharing what you’re up to with a trusted confidante can help you stay on track.
- Get it on the calendar. This can be something as simple as “making appointments” to go to the gym or something a little more substantial such as registering for a race.
- Take a look a metrics and revisit periodically. When you’re in Weight Watchers, you have weekly weigh-ins. Kudos if you have a weight loss but it’s not the end of the world if you have a gain that week. The purpose of this is for you to review what worked or didn’t work that week and learn from there.
- Recognize that what you do (or don’t do) can impact future activities. It could be something as simple as asking “is this consistent with the results I’m seeking.” I’ve done a few 5K races this year, two 10Ks as well as other events and I’m training for a half marathon. If I don’t do a training run, I have to adjust my training schedule and that could impact my ability to effectively do a race that I’m registered to do.
In addition to this blog, that focuses primarily on marketing and small business challenges, I have another blog that chronicles my weight loss journey.
One of the commercials at my gym uses a tagline “what gets measured, gets improved” to promote their personal training services. Another phrase that I have heard in my travels says “what gets managed, gets accomplished.”
A lot of folks get caught up with saying they want to improve or accomplish something but don’t create a “SMART goal” to tie in what will constitute improvement or accomplishment and simply end up getting frustrated for one reason or another.
SMART stands for Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely
While it’s great to say “I want to earn more money,” “get more clients,” or “get better projects,” it’s not enough to put out one of those statements and call it a day.
It’s not enough to say “I want to earn more money.” How much more are we talking about? By not specifying what constitutes a “respectable” increase, there must be some frustration at the end of the year. For example, one could’ve made 50K one year and made 51K the following year; quite frankly, the objective to make more money was accomplished but if the goal wasn’t put in place somebody will say “I don’t get it, you did make “more” money.” Revenues are usually viewed on annual or quarterly terms so timeliness isn’t an issue here. If one wants to say, “I’m looking to increase my revenues ten-fold this year” it might not be realistic unless there are some systems in place to really make that happen.
It’s not enough to say “I want to get more clients.” Once again, how many are we talking about. Sometimes the number of clients might not be enough but one may need to look at what revenue will be generated by a client and if there’s a potential for repeat work.
It’s not enough to say “I want to get better projects.” What constitutes “better” projects? One may need to drill down and think about what was wrong with previous projects to determine what will be an improvement with better projects.
In addition to stating the goals in question, it would be helpful to create an action plan to make these goals happen.
If you told me four years ago that in a year that I would be starting a business, I would’ve thought you were crazy. Life tends to take you places that you don’t anticipate.
I lost my last full-time job shortly after New Year’s Day in 2010 and I immediately went on the interview circuit only to be discouraged about what I saw in the marketplace. There were jobs out there but not many that were suitable to my pay grade & experience. Yes, I could’ve taken a pay cut because I needed to have health insurance but I got to a point and wondered what else would I be giving up by taking a drastic salary decrease. I had 15 years of marketing experience at the time and the job postings were requesting, at most, 5-7 years of experience. Yes, I did go through the exercise of chopping years off my resume & I did get called on interviews but I felt that I had to stifle myself & not say things that would essentially “out me” as somebody with a lot more experience than I was claiming.
After I applied for unemployment, I got a letter for the Department of Labor saying that I might be eligible for the Self Employment Assistance Program but the letter didn’t say anything about where to go for more information or provide any details that would answer questions about the program. When I went to “unemployment orientation,” I asked about the letter & I was told that I needed to go to another session. At that particular point, I just said “what the heck” and applied. If the business works, great but if it doesn’t, at least I made an effort.
I started the business with the angle of running with what I know. As I continued in the business, I made various discoveries and decided to pursue assorted diversity certifications. The consulting for A/E/C firms is still a core portion of my business but having the certifications allowed me to get involved on government agency contracts.
As with any business, there are periods that are robust with activity & ones that make me wonder WTF. The past few months of dealing with post-Sandy issues have forced me to be creative with finding work & clients.
I’m glad that I decided to stick with the business and not give up. I’m fortunate that I have had to flexibility to pursue work & clients that interest me as well as navigate various landscapes to develop my business.
In July, I had the pleasure of hearing Greg Bell, author of Water the Bamboo, speak at Build Business (the SMPS National Conference). One of the gems that he offered is that when you ask “what’s going well,” you will shift your focus & think about the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.
For those of you that know me personally are probably aware of my very nomadic Post-Sandy lifestyle. The first floor of my house has been destroyed and we need to rebuild. To this day, we are still waiting on a determination from our flood claim due to the extensive damage that we experienced. We have been unable to stay in our home since the storm and have been staying at my mom’s place. Fortunately, we have a place to stay for as long as we need to but there comes a time when you just want to be in your house with your stuff.
For almost two months and until further notice, I have been driving every day from Queens (Mom’s place) to Lindenhurst (where my daughter goes to school), about 35 miles one-way. I had to deal with the gas shortage, lines, rationing, etc. but I kept driving & just worked the wait times into my day. While my daughter is in school, I will be at the house handling cleanups, insurance inspections, contractor estimates, etc. or I may hang out at the library to do some work.
If that isn’t enough, my dog went missing and has not been located to this day.
Yes, this should’ve broken me. Yes, I have cried at times. I look at this as an opportunity to rebuild and for those of us that are old enough to remember the Six Million Dollar Man, I see this as an opportunity to rebuild stronger & better.
Fortunately, my clients have been patient with me. If I’m on the road, that means I’m not on the computer. Fortunately, my phone allows to do a number of things but if I have to read a big document, that will have to wait until I can be stationary.