I’ve been running my own business – pretty much by myself – since 2001. After 10 years I’m weary from going it alone professionally. I’m typing up my thoughts on finding a business partner, visions I have for moving forward, and things I’d like to accomplish with a biz partner. Right now I’m seeing out contacts and friends in my network that have been down this path before, and maybe gain a bit of advice or direction in the process.
The best was I know to find a partner is to ‘date’ first. I’d love to collaborate on a few projects to see about finding the right person (or people) to grow a business with. Best case, we both find business partners and grow a company together. Worst case, we finish a project and move on our separate ways. I don’t have a project right for a partner now, but I’d like to see about working together with someone to find it. While I’m currently working on projects, it’s not the type of thing that I want to move forward with a partner on. So we build it from scratch, together, as a new business endeavor.
Here’s the thing, I hit the wall and realized I can’t scale very well. When I’m working on client projects, I am heads-down and can’t really take the time to properly solicit and cultivate new clients. Leads thrown my way collect dust because I just can’t work on all the things that are needed to land new clients (in-person networking, pitches, proposals, contracts, etc.) while I’m trying to produce work for clients and meet deadlines. One of my bigger fears has been actually landing multiple clients at the same time (which has happened more than once) because the project ramp-up is so intense and consumes so much of my time. Another issue I’ve been having is landing the wrong type of clients, ones that don’t see the whole picture online and tend to want to focus exclusively on SEO, PR, PPC or paid lead generation services that don’t work on their own. It’s frustrating.
So what type of business do I aspire to? Maybe something like Red Tettemer, GMD Studios, Campfire, Brains on Fire or The Archer Group (you can see what I like and aspire to is all over the map literally and functionally). These are the agencies I’m following from afar and admire from the outside. Since it is highly unlikely any of them have me on their radar to grab me up, I’m looking to build my own. Think technology, interactive, immersive, digital – edgy. Right now I want to be more than just ME. I’m pretty damn sure I’m not employable, I’ve been an entrepreneur and business owner way too long. I’m a storyteller and technology geek and the two combined make a mighty powerful platform for clients. I love the idea of crafting content to educate and inspire my client’s own customers to not only buy the product, but evangelize to their friends and family to do the same. I don’t like selling and I don’t like for my clients to have to ‘sell’. I want to help make my clients memorable. Not just at the point of sale, but memorable within their customers entire life. I don’t know what type of work specifically that is called, or what type of ‘agency’ we would be labeled as, it’s just what I see the future (my future specifically) as.
I have unique and creative ideas and while I value structure and hierarchy, I fear employment in an agency that puts me to work in a SEO content mill or running reports for the rest of my days. To be honest, I am way too smart for that. The length, depth, and detail of my experience puts me in the top 10% of people in my industry (in my unscientific opinion – <grin>). I’m not a Best Buy salesperson turned social media guru. I’ve been in this space for over 20 years – corporate and international experience. I know my shit. I’ve been so busy in the trenches with work that I rarely get a chance to self-promote and write tons of articles and blog posts about the industry. In turn that means I’m not as popular or visible to the outside as I should be, and I have a really hard time blowing my own horn. There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s life that it must be done. I suppose now is that time.
Where do I go next? I know that the organic way to find a business partner is to mesh together with someone that you’ve been working with, but so far I’ve not found anyone I’ve worked with in the past to be the right type of person for a partnership. I’ve written out pretty detailed thoughts on what exactly I’d like to do, what I have to offer, and a general sense of the qualities I’d like in a partner. It’s a start. I’m also reaching out to a select few that have been where I am now, and have reached levels I’m planning on in the future.
Wish me luck, give me some advice, point me in the right direction, learn from my journey – it’s all good. I just don’t want to ask for a free lunch. I have a detailed document with more information in it, but only sharing it with select few… no need to show all my cards on the table here 😉