Three Pieces of “Going Out On Your Own” Advice

Going for it

Photo by -nolly on Flickr

Real bloggers write all the time. I blog when the mood strikes. The mood struck me today after having coffee with a friend who has toyed with going out on her own over the past year, just like me. She is leaning toward a return to the corporate world and I wish her all the best. I admitted that I might be on that path again someday, but for now, I’m sticking it out, working hard and enjoying what I’m doing.

The following is a blog entry I’ve had swirling in my head for a few months. It is the best three pieces of advice I was given in my first year of going out on my own. Thanks, Jennifer, for inspiring me to finally sit down and put these thoughts out there in the blogosphere.

Use a simple, descriptive name for your business.
When I was first getting started, I put some pressure on myself to come up with a creative name. It was a daunting task because at the time, I wasn’t absolutely sure I wanted to go out on my own. Yet, I knew my business name would be used on my logo, my business cards and my website…for starters. Then there are bigger issues like officially registering the business name and applying for trademark rights. Aye yai yai.

Then, someone told me to keep it simple, especially as you get started. State your name and add whatever it is your business does. Thus, Kelly Duffort Web Strategies. Not a lick of creativity in that, but it gets my name out there and it does give you a good idea of what I do. Thank you, Steve.

Listen to your clients, they’ll help define your business.
This advice came from one of my first potential clients. She had been building her business for about a year and she was still working on defining her niche market and her key offerings. What she said made sense that day and several months later, it still applies to what I do today as I continue build my business.

Yes, I build websites. (That’s the 3-second answer I give to folks when I’m being lazy and pretty darn sure they don’t want to hear my elevator pitch no matter how slick and polished it is.)

The truth is I am a communicator and I LOVE working on the Web. I enjoy talking to potential clients to find out what messages they want to communicate, who their audiences are, what website development tools they have available to them now, how much they can spend on upgrading those tools if necessary, talking through the advantages and disadvantages of social media, mapping out strategies for “feeding the social media content beast” if it’s in their best interest to go that route, coaching them on data that is available in their analytics reports, etc.

I’ve done a little bit of all of the above as I have spoken with clients over the past six months. I enjoy the variety and I am discovering that I can help clients in many more ways than I originally thought. Indeed, they are helping me define my business.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
I do not know where I first came across John Wooden’s quote, but it is one that really helped push aside my self-doubts and go for it.

I build websites, but I don’t design them. There’s a difference. I’m a website producer, a project manager, a communicator, a writer. I have great appreciation for excellent design and I’ve worked with designers throughout my career.

So…I had to let go of that design obstacle and get started on everything else that I could  do. That’s exactly what I did and since then, I’ve worked with overseas designers (whom I found via freelance websites) and connected with local artists whom I look forward to working with in the near future. Funny thing is some of the designers I have met have been eager to connect with me because it just so happens they have a client who could use my expertise. I never imagined that connecting with them would lead to reciprocal business. In hindsight, of course, it makes perfect sense.

I agree with statements like “you can’t be everything to everyone” and “know your strengths and weaknesses.” For some reason, the way John Wooden said it made the most sense. Do what you can do, don’t worry about what you can’t.

One person has commented
  1. Rebecca Maddox says:

    Excellent advice (and writing), Kelly. I wish you continued success in all of your new endeavors.

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