Ask Felicia Joy: How To Create a Business Assisting Entrepreneurs
I am interested in starting a strategic marketing business. I became interested in this field because I have been assisting friends and acquaintances who are starting new businesses with finding the right kind of insurance, making telephone calls, conducting research, marketing their product and obtaining venues. But it has been impossible to get them to pay me for the resources and information that I have provided, which is invaluable.
I am currently not working. I got laid off of my job as a legal secretary about a year and a half ago, and I have been trying to look for work and establish a business. Do you have any suggestions?
I am glad you are considering the idea of starting a business while looking for work. When some people are downsized they shut down and don’t consider all their options. The reality is, for many people, becoming an entrepreneur — even if on a part-time basis — will be their best bet going forward.
First, let’s address your business. The projects you have completed for friends touch on marketing, but most of them sound like advanced administrative tasks (insurance analysis, making telephone calls, conducting research and securing venues). So, start there. Which business do you really want to launch: a strategic marketing firm or a freelance administrative business?
Your legal background gives you a strong leg up on the competition if you become an independent executive assistant. This way, you can help solo entrepreneurs and small businesses with both marketing and compliance (proper insurance, business licenses, quarterly tax filings and more).
So, you can go the general route, or you can create a lucrative niche by assisting businesses in a specific industry. If you do this, specialize in industries that are booming such as environmental protection, energy, healthcare, technology, pharmaceutical or biomedical sciences. On another note, since you have a legal background, an additional option is to sign five to 10 busy law firms as clients and bill them hourly as an on-call legal assistant.
Regardless of which business you decide to pursue, starting out, all your time needs to be spent selling and marketing your service so you can build your client base. As you gain clients, you will spend more time doing client work and less time selling and marketing; but, don’t ever stop selling and marketing, even if you have someone else handle it for you. This is a big mistake many entrepreneurs make–once they see the money coming in, they stop marketing. Always market your business.
If you work until you get to 35 hours per week doing client projects at $45 per hour (a national average for the kind of services you are considering offering) then you’ll be at about $75,000 per year in revenue before taxes and other expenses, and you still have five to 10 hours per week (or more) for marketing.
As for your friends not paying you, they either refuse to compensate you because you haven’t officially launched the business and made it clear to them up front that you are now handling marketing or other projects for a living; or they won’t pay you because they think as your friend they are entitled to your talents for free. Nip both of these in the bud. First, make a decision about what kind of business you want to start and launch it, even if only part-time. Second, stop doing free work! Don’t even allow people to “pick your brain” unless they compensate you for a consultation. Period.
Grace & Peace,
Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise. She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press. Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.twitter.com/feliciajoy.