Lessons from year as a PR entrepreneur

Last month, First Partners, the PR firm that I co-founded completed one year. It’s been a fascinating journey, demanding but satisfying.

I worked with my previous employer, a leading global PR firm, for 20 continuous years and had a key leadership position. Still, for me and my founding partners, a shift from being an employee to an entrepreneur was a big change. This is an account of some of the learnings which a budding entrepreneur can take a note of.

Create, don’t replicate:
Most of us get driven by the success stories of others. They indeed provide the rush of inspiration to take a plunge into entrepreneurship. Experienced professionals, like me and my founding partners may tend to take comfort under what worked for us in the past hoping that history will repeat itself. However, what many of us miss is that same actions undertaken over two different time zones never give the same results. We exist in a living, dynamic world, where results are dependent on the relative environment. In a new environment, you need new ways to create new results.

Innovate with experience:
The above approach is not anti-experience. Experience gives us the predictive ability to decide what will work and what will not, which is invaluable.  Entrepreneurs need to leverage their prior experience to innovate. Look for insights which allow you to find new ways to solve problems. An entrepreneur is his own boss. Don’t let anything stop you from trying new things. Today, First Partners is our laboratory to yet again innovate and open new vistas for the Indian public relations industry through innovative models that drive superior results. We are using our deep prior experience to take a leap and focus on communication that delivers on business outcomes.

Disrupt to surge ahead in a cluttered market:
Speed of success is like currency to an entrepreneur. It is bankable with clients as well as talent. It thus helps to focus on your core, where you can succeed the fastest. It is important to not get carried away, as at any point of time there would be multiple opportunities knocking at your door. Create disruption in your areas of primary strength, break into a cluttered market and then add capabilities to propel growth.

Trusted people are your building blocks:
If you can get the best people to work with you, you can build the best firm in the business. It is as simple as that. However, this is not easy as new people may not readily stake their careers on a new player. This is where I believe that trusted people are your best bet. Look for the best talent you have worked with and build your team. At First Partners, the senior team comprises of some of the finest PR talent who go back a long way together.

Knowledge and business acumen are different concepts:
It would be logical to believe that good subject matter knowledge and rich experience is enough to build a successful business. This is however a fallacy. The second most important skill for an entrepreneur is financial management. A successful business needs to be financially stable and sustainable. Building a big business would require bigger investments. Therefore, plan your resources in line with the scale you aspire to reach. At least one member in the core team should have a strong business acumen and focused on charting the growth story.

Lastly, as an entrepreneur you need to find your own mojo which is not possible without a strong sense of self-belief and perseverance.

About the Author:
Dilip Yadav is founding partner with First Partners. In a career spanning over 23 years, Dilip has guided business leaders of Fortune 100 companies on communication issues, built award winning public opinion campaigns and helped accelerate start-ups.  Earlier, Dilip was the managing director, Client Services at Weber Shandwick India (www.webershandwick.com) and the managing director for Creation, India.

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