Break out the cake, the champagne, the balloons and confetti!
Lux + Associates, Inc. – now Lux-Writes – is celebrating 25 years in business as a successful marketing communications, branding and public relations firm. Long before it was cool to be an entrepreneur, wear a man bun, drink lattes, and play ping pong in a co-working space, I started my own company.
It was a lean operation. No friends and family pitching in. No crowd funding. No seed rounds. All I needed was a Mac computer, an Internet connection, an accountant, a few clients, and I was in business.
My motivation to start Lux + Associates was simple. After working my tail off for other ad agencies for 12 years and making no progress financially, I took a freelance job creating a brochure for an orthodontist. I netted $500, but learned something far more valuable:
Working for myself was exponentially more rewarding.
The proof was in the pudding. Within six months, I had doubled my salary. I was much happier. Soon I added an employee. Then another. Rented the first of several offices. Yes, it was scary to leave my “real job.” But Lux + Associates was now my real job, my dream job, and it could be whatever I wanted it to be.
The sky was the limit I have worked all over the world. Have advanced Fortune 500 corporations and launched startups. Gotten life-saving legislation passed and helped young people start their professional lives. Being my own boss also gave me the flexibility to be there for my two sons and enjoy life.
If you are considering starting a business, whether a high-tech startup or a freelance gig, I have some words of wisdom for you:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. My oldest son once said, “Mom, you love stress.” He’s right. Jumping out of my comfort zone fills me with adrenaline and sparks my problem-solving creativity. I highly recommend adopting the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mindset and leaving your comfort zone behind.
Learn to say yes, even if you’re unsure how to do something. When I was first in business, I was pretty hungry so I said yes to nearly any project or client in front of me. Even if it was something I had not done before, I said yes and figured it out. Here’s an example, a major textile company asked me to do an intense, company-wide communications audit. The fee was $25,000. I couldn’t get that YES out of my mouth fast enough even though I’d never done a similar project. It was a challenging gig, but I got it done much to the client’s satisfaction.
Learn to say no as not every opportunity is the right one. Sometimes you have to say no even if you could really use the work or experience. Walkaway if the client relationship is toxic or if what they’re asking you to do goes against your principles. It’s hard, but it’s the right thing to do for your integrity and sanity.
Do your best work regardless of the task. People notice when a project is well done. They will value you for it. A significant portion of my business is from referrals and largely from people who went on to other companies and remembered what a good job I did. The most recent client came back after 20 years! I really made an impression on that one.
Realize there will be ups and downs and go with it. While my business has always turned a profit, there have been times that were not great, when billings were stagnant. A big mistake early on was having a client that comprised about 70 percent of my billings. Then I lost the client. In deep despair, I struggled on, networked like a fiend and came back busier than ever. Right now my business is slow, but that just means I’m going to have to work harder to find something new. Maybe a project with you?
Twenty-five years in business is a major accomplishment. But I’m not done yet! Let’s get together over coffee and discuss how I can help you. I’m buying. Here’s how to connect.