It's a journey.

I've been getting some nice notes on LinkedIn congratulating me for 12 years at Bumbershoot PR. To be honest, I didn’t even realize I was coming up on this anniversary until the notes started hitting my inbox. But since I am, I thought it might be time to take you on a little trip down Memory Lane.

I started Bumbershoot (the name means "umbrella") way back in 2009 so I could pick up a few clients while my son was in pre-school. As his school schedule expanded, so did my client roster. He’s finishing 7th Grade now, and I continue to work primarily while he’s in school, and only as needed outside of school hours. But let’s get back to the real point of the story.

I was a happy solo publicist who grew without a plan (and without a net!) into a very popular little agency and even though I never learned how to run a business, IT WAS SO EASY, YOU GUYS! I didn’t need a plan, you see, because the growth was effortless. We had our finger on the pulse of the city. We did great work. We turned down more than we took in. It looked like a success story from every angle to anyone observing, including myself. It was intoxicating. It was the best of times.

Until it wasn't.

I hadn’t figured out how to make any money. I was doing too much but not focusing enough on the company’s inner nuts and bolts, which should have been my full-time job. Instead, I was still running accounts, because that’s what I loved. I was also managing new business development. I was HR. I was Ops. I was Marketing. I was Housekeeping. And I was losing track of why I loved my job in the first place.

The market slowed down. Some big clients stopped paying their bills, but still wanted the work. I kept working with them, too. Hoping things would get better for them so they could get better for us. That didn’t work. As a result, I learned the hard way what having no plan for bad times looked like. After eight years on Easy Street, I was stalled with a flat tire at a broken red light. I could blame the slow-paying clients for turning me upside down. But ultimately it was my decision to work with them without clear contract parameters in the first place. So, there was no one left to blame but me. I made plenty of mistakes. But one mistake I didn’t make was to give up.

Instead of abandoning ship, I hopped into a smaller, much more manageable lifeboat. I picked up an oar and started rowing, until I found my own island. In the past few years, I've scaled back to being "just me" once again and the lessons I've learned have become part of my DNA and I love to share them with others. I am once again a happy solo publicist and communications consultant who loves her work and her clients. I make more money. I lose less sleep. I only do the work that I love, and I am enjoying it every single day.

So, what lessons have I learned on this epic, 12-year journey? So many. But for the sake of this post, I will keep the shared lesson on topic: If you want to grow, you should grow with a plan. Grow with purpose so you can grow into your big dream. But if you want to fly solo, listen to your heart (and not your ego!) so you can identify this early on and plan accordingly.

If you want to go the solo PR route but you don’t know where to begin, The Career Rebel’s Guide to Modern PR could be a good place to start. The curriculum is real-world tested, practical, and hands-on. I know because I helped create it alongside five other senior publicists who all enjoy working on their own terms. We created this course to help people who want to do what we do. There is so much freedom in this lifestyle and plenty of room for more people to join the movement. This course could have saved me from a lot of road bumps. I wish I had it, or something like it, when I was just starting out.

We have a new cohort starting in June.

I know that there are so many women in Oklahoma and other “middle” states who want this kind of freedom but don’t know that it’s possible. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the course here and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

But whatever direction you map out for your career journey, I hope you pause to make a plan that will get you there with as few unplanned detours as possible.

Happy trails!

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