10 political business questions answered by business founders

From longtime business owners to startup founders, our interview topics with business founders offered a wealth of knowledge on everything from business development to expansion to building customer relationships. . Here are some of the best tips we’ve heard:

C&E: The start-up period of a business is always high stakes. What is your advice to facilitate this early process?

Taryn Rosenkranz, Founder, New Blue Interactive: “The best advice I can give to someone who is about to start a business is that before you go, have two contracts signed… Be advanced enough to know where your first two clients are coming from, because a lot of that in the first few days is word of mouth and the work product you put in. So if you already have two people invested in you before you even open the door, I think that’s a lot In those early days, a lot of what I was doing was going in front of people and showing them what we could do and being able to have a few people to be your case studies on that is important.

C&E: What can new business owners do to make sure they’re on top of the administrative side of the business?

Ryan Horn, President, Bullhorn Communications: “I have a mentor and a business friend in Omaha who is a venture capitalist. And so he gave me some great free advice. He said, ‘Don’t be afraid of the things you are afraid of.’ When you’re thinking about starting a business, many entrepreneurs are afraid to get the legal stuff right, to do the books right, to do the taxes right, to do all the back office work right. Get an excellent accountant. Get a very good lawyer. It takes care of two-thirds of that stuff that seems so daunting before starting a business. Find good people you can afford to do the job and invest in them.

C&E: How important is it to have a foundational vision for your business when you first launch?

John Nanberg, Co-Founder, Ampersand Strategies: “It’s important to have that vision to have a clear idea of ​​what the business is, who we work for, what kind of work we do, but what clients we will and won’t work for — that sort of thing. . It’s important because the team needs to know what we’re doing together. They need to know what our direction is. They need to know what our values ​​are. And if I never took the time to think about it, I think we’d just be rudderless and grab whatever we can get.

C&E: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen people make when it comes to conceptualizing their business?

Sue Zoldak, Founder of Zoldak Agency + Zoldak Research + Zoldak Victory: “I think the number one rule of starting a business is to make sure you’re offering a product that people actually want. I talk to a lot of people who want to start a business – a consulting business or a product business – and they describe something that I think is a shoehorn; something I’m not sure people want to pay for. So are you actually solving a problem that needs to be [solved] or are you trying the opposite: trying to start a business because you think that’s your skill set? So you then try to sell your unique skill set. They are actually two completely different things, and many people confuse these two things. Just because you have a skill set doesn’t mean you start a business around it.

C&E: What is your approach to creating business and developing relationships with your customers?

Francesca Dulce Larson, Partner, Mosaic Strategies Group: “I think for us it wasn’t about the wins and losses of the candidates, it was about the relationships. So how do you make sure you get re-hired by someone? A candidate who loses can run again in elections, or he can start a nonprofit, or he can run a PAC. And what we’ve realized is that some of our candidates who failed the first time around have become some of our most successful and some of our best connections… As you start thinking about your role model, find people you like working with. If you don’t like a candidate, don’t work with them. When you find people you like really work, they’re going to start referring you to other people you enjoy working with, and that allows that pattern to be sustainable, not just financially, but also emotionally and for your family.

C&E: Self-marketing is so important for new business owners. What is your advice for doing it right?

Sharon Paez, Founder, Potomac Waves Media: “What do you sell? What is your product? What do you do? Make sure your network knows you and what you do. initiatives that you know are putting out tenders. You know that in a year from now they’re going to be looking for vendors, whether you’re doing media or phone or text or mail. Have a briefing. You want to run for their committee – you want to be on the list when the RFP goes out and you just respond to every RFP you get.

C&E: What is your advice to founders who may not have a lot of working products to show potential customers when they first launch?

Kara Turrentine, Founder, Turrency Political + Co-Founder, BlackBrown Partners: “I wanted to build a portfolio before I went full time, so I took on as many projects as my arms and hands would allow me to build a portfolio that would allow us to go out there and showcase some of the most more important…I think it’s really important in the early stages that you have a work product to show.In the very beginning we did some of this advocacy work with nonprofits and small businesses that were in town – every opportunity we had to show off our design prowess. We did the Pro Bono Women’s March because it was such a huge event and it gave us a really critical moment in the history to participate in, while showing our ability to organize massive events, so we built a portfolio of candidates, causes, and we were able to present it to more and more candidates. more important. So for us, in a year, we went from city council races to Bernie Sanders. »

C&E: What is your advice to business owners considering expanding their services or staff?

Nicole Schlinger, President and Founder, CampaignHQ: “Sometimes as a business owner you get so bogged down in the day-to-day that it’s not always apparent. And so what I would say to someone is that you may not know when it’s time to make that move, but if someone comes to you with that kind of information, it’s important to see outside perspectives. It is important to listen to others. You can follow their advice or not. But you won’t get enough perspective from where you are. Your horizon and focus will not always be at that 50,000 foot level.

C&E: How did you approach business development in your early days?

Brent Buchanan, Founder, Cygnal: “Hush. I still, to this day, do at least an hour a day of outbound business development activities. In any given week, I do 50-70 outbound contacts, emails, texts, and calls I never let up on the gas because I deeply believe in what we do and its superiority to anything out there and that if campaigns are to win it starts with having the right information and making decisions from of reliable data. And so if you take that hustle and combine it with your passion, that’s the key. The other thing would be to fake it until you make it. I had a lot of unfounded confidence when I started because I knew what I was going to build and what I was capable of, but I didn’t necessarily have a lot of projects under my belt to prove it.

C&E: If you could go back and do one thing differently from the beginning as a business owner, what change would you make?

Kendall Scudder, Co-Founder, Armadilla Strategies: “I think when we started it was this idea that we were all in it and we were going to do whatever was necessary. But not having that wheelhouse turned out to be quite difficult because for every service you offer , you suddenly have to have different contracts and different billing. You have to have different protocol and different models and different formats. It’s become a lot to juggle. It’s also become difficult to make sure we’re on top of everything. we were doing. Pretty quickly, we realized we had to find a way and we had to get there. And once we did, things became a lot easier to juggle. It felt like we had to ground beneath us instead of constantly flying around like a chicken with its head cut off. So that’s probably what I would do in a time machine is walk in and say, “You know what? We are going to be a digital business. ”

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