Thursday, November 8, 2007

Elements of a Press Kit: The Executive Photo

I’m in the process of telling the story of my second company to the world.

To do this, I’ve hired a publicist and worked with her to create a press release. She distributed it and now the dialogue with the media is open.

Would I like to do an interview? Can we have your bio? Do you have a photo?

As a matter of fact, I do (<- that's me).

Thanks to Daniel Payne, I have a professional corporate portrait for my web site, executive bio and press kit.

I met Daniel at an OEN event over the summer and we discussed high-tech start-ups and marketing. Later that month, he was kind enough to make an electronic introduction for me to a marketing and PR firm that might need contract copywriters. In his email introduction, I saw that his signature line said he was a photographer. Knowing I might need a photographer someday in the near future, I checked out his web site and liked the quality of the corporate portraits he included in his portfolio.

So when the time arrived for me to get my picture taken, he was top of mind. I called him two weeks ago and arranged for him to meet me at my house for the sitting.

It was easier than I could have imagined! Daniel brought and set up all the equipment he needed while I touched up my make-up. We talked about backgrounds and looked at the design of my new web site and the clients of my copywriting business to pick the look that would best match both of my companies.

Then, in the matter of only a few minutes, he shot about two dozen pictures of me. At his laptop, we looked at them, rotated some, and picked the one that fit best. In less than 90 minutes from beginning to end, I had exactly what I needed for my web site, my press kit, and my bio.

If you’re like me, you might balk at the idea of having your professional portrait done for small business promotion. I assumed it would take a long time to get the proofs and final images and I expected it to be expensive and inconvenient to arrange.

I can’t say enough how happy I am that Daniel made it so easy, affordable, and convenient!

Think about the benefits to your small business. It is a reflection of you, after all, isn’t it? Why not personalize some of your promotional materials with your face? People like to buy from people; they like to know who it is who will be on the other end of the phone when they call.

And besides, when the hot moment hits and a newspaper or trade magazine wants to feature your business, you’ll be ready.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stand Back and Take Notice

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done." -- Marie Curie, French scientist

On July 31, I wrote about my electronic to-do list. When I began my list back then, it was daunting. A full paged of typed tasks in 10-pt typeface is a lot more than a full page of handwritten ones. There were full categories of steps to accomplish, from operations to marketing.

Now just three months later, I've not only crossed off everything on that list, but I've added two additional pages of work that lies ahead.

Although there is still much more to accomplish in launching my business, I did stop for a moment yesterday to soak in the significance of seeing that entire first page with lines through every task.

It felt good.

The things on that list were important, fundamental steps: interviewing and selecting an illustrator and graphic designer to create my company's identity; registering the DBA (doing business as) with the state; opening my corporate bank account and credit card; capitalizing my corporation by making my equity contribution; connecting a dedicated business phone line; registering the domain name for my company's web site; and purchasing office supplies, file cabinets, and the like.

When I stop the whirlwind of motion, stand back and look at how much I've done in only three months, I'm a bit stunned.

And proud.

I write this post today for myself as much as for anyone else. I hope I remember to notice in the months to come not what remains to be done, but how much I've done already.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Find Your Passion and Follow It

Last night I was at a party and found myself answering a lot of questions about my businesses. Because I'm so close to the launch of my second venture, I naturally focused on how hard I'm working these days. I talked about the long hours and how focused I've been on dedicating my energy to both companies.

When one of the guys I was talking with said, "It must be a drag to work that hard," I was surprised. I hadn't meant to sound like I was complaining. I'm not. But it is what it is: a lot of work.

"I'm happy to work this hard," I said, "because I'm excited about what I'm doing. I love what I'm creating, and I love that it's mine."

On Thursday, I wrote to my public relations agent about my ideas for an editorial pitch to a major women's magazine. She responded this way:
"Looks good Tara! You can tell your heart is really in this. I was just reading
an article this morning from one of my favorite motivators and he quoted:
When starting your business look for a product that you really like, use and
enjoy yourself personally. You can only sell something to someone else if your
heart is in it. And if your heart is in it you will enjoy using the product
yourself and be successful and the money will follow."
I know the advice to "love what you do and the money will follow" is trite, but people keep repeating it because it's true.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, you really do have to be passionate about the business you're starting or running. To keep yourself energized and pushing forward when the going gets tough, it takes something more than the draw of a paycheck. It takes love, passion, and intensity. And like the romantic equivalents, when you share your passion, you might be surprised at how it grows and turns into something more beautiful and amazing than you had imagined.

Friday, November 2, 2007

“Just Start” Your Business—Enter to Win $50,000!

When I said earlier this week that October was the month of QuickBooks, I may have been mistaken.

So far, Intuit and its leading small business accounting software are making a strong showing in November as well.

Yesterday I discovered the Just Start contest, sponsored by Intuit. Targeting the supposed 72% of Americans who yearn to start a business, Intuit is promoting an “entrepreneurial revolution,” and encouraging the undecided to “just start” making their business visions come true.

Free Software & a $50,000 Prize
Visit the web site to sign up to receive a free copy of the new “QuickBooks Simple Start 2008” small business accounting software and learn how to submit your entry to the Just Start business contest. The Grand Prize winner will receive $40,000 in cash and $10,000 in services to help her or him with a new entrepreneurial effort.

Entrepreneur Events
In addition to the contest entry, you can find out about Just Start entrepreneurial events happening around the country, and add your own pledge to Just Start doing what you love.

Contest Info
The contest started October 12. Entries will be accepted through December 15, 2007 and the winner announced the first week of February, 2008. Awards will be made on based on the feasibility of your business idea and the strength of your presentation.

I would have told you about it yesterday, but I wanted a head start in assembling my entry. Kidding.

Good luck! Let me know if you enter; I’ll mention your entry!