By Anna McDermott

Leanne Pressly, CEO, Stitchcraft Marketing

Nancy’s podcasts feature guests who have started their own companies or agencies, or who are professionals in the communications fields, and they’ve all shared great advice, especially for those just starting out in their careers. I’ve noticed that there are a few things that repeatedly come up as lessons learned or advice to those just beginning their professions. This is a round-up of some of the great tips shared for entrepreneurs – whether you’re right out of school or taking a leap onto a new path.

Nancy was talking with Leanne Pressly, the CEO of Stitchcraft Marketing, who she met through the Agency Management Institute’s agency owner peer network group. Nancy has spoken several times about how joining AMI has changed her public relations agency for the better. She often shares how in the early years of starting her agency, she felt dragged along by clients and her workload, and didn’t feel in control of where her company was heading. After joining AMI’s marketing agency owner networking group, she met numerous people who were in similar positions, and learned a huge amount from their mistakes and successes. Her network shared resources and offered support to each other and they all grew stronger, together. Leanne is also in AMI’s network group and she feels the same way and said she wished she’d joined sooner.

A recurring piece of advice from the podcast guests to entrepreneurs is to find a network of peers that can help guide you as your business grows. There are numerous peer groups – AMI is a mix of advertising agencies, PR firms, marketing shops, digital marketing, and design firms – but there are different networking groups that suit other areas of business. The benefits of having people to meet with regularly and share your problems or successes with, and learn from, is truly invaluable, especially when you’re just starting out.

Leanne said one of the best things she learned from AMI was to say no. When you’re starting out, it’s tempting, if not necessary, to say yes to every client, new project or opportunity. By saying no more often, Leanne said she found better clients which led to better, more fulfilling work. Nancy agreed and said that if you learn to attract the right kind of clients, you end up with more of them in the long run and your agency will grow and you will find more enjoyment from the work you do.

Another piece of advice Nancy’s guests frequently dole out is to establish yourself as a thought leader. You can do this by offering free advice on your website or blog, or through social media. Put your voice out there with authority and people will find you. Have advice you want to share? Write an op-ed and submit it to your local paper. This creates a flow of inbound marketing to your agency, as opposed to outbound. Once you’ve become a thought leader, you might be asked to speak at an event or meeting or participate on a panel. Those opportunities also act as a funnel for new business.

Another tip is be helpful. Many marketing professionals have said that the more they seek out ways to connect people and network, the better it is for them in long run. Leanne said that when you first meet someone, learn their assets, and then, when there’s an occasion to connect your new acquaintance with someone else, go for it. The more you’re involved with creating positive associations among your business community, the stronger your own network (and net-worth) become.

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