If you ask any successful businessperson how they got started in their field, many will answer with: by just starting. Each thing you do on the road to your career goal — and each opportunity you take advantage of — only adds to your experience and your portfolio, and ups your confidence. Putting the time in might be the only way one can guarantee that they’ll learn and grow.
For Diamond Troutman, her career as a Content Producer and Creative Consultant only took off as a result of lots of doing and plenty of trying. After studies brought her to Paris, France, Diamond used this opportunity to launch the travel blog, Paris Elsewhere, where she documented her experiences and honed her signature writing style. As a result of building this platform, she was able to collaborate with and shadow many fellow bloggers and content producers whom she looked up to. Without fully being aware of it, over time, Diamond managed to interject herself into a valuable community that eventually became her own audience and client-base.
Today, the effervescent Diamond is joining us to share more about her career journey, why formalities and standards are vital, and what it means to foster a collaborative client environment. –Sabrina
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
Starting my own business challenged me to exercise my creativity and reflect expertise in the field of content creation and creative direction. In developing a business in-line with my values (people, creative process and product), I have succeeded in fostering, firsthand, a real connection with my community and forging a unique, collaborative client environment.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
When starting a business, it’s important to determine that you’ve got a great idea. Perform research! Discover your market, especially your competitors. What are your objectives? While developing your business concept, take the time to reflect on your personal brand. Establishing confidence in your personal brand and protecting your reputation will prove influential in networking with other entrepreneurs or professionals in your industry.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?
My career began in 2011 as a blogger. When French and Sociology studies took me abroad to Paris in 2012, I made an effort to immerse myself extracurricularly in the creative culture by meeting other bloggers, shadowing them at photo shoots, interviews and events. The experiences from that summer introduced me to entrepreneurs and mentors, from whom I learned that my creative passions could become the tools for a successful career.
With this inspiration and guidance, I continued travel and food writing on my blog, creating a portfolio that landed opportunities to explore a writing-intensive career.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
Time is an element of sacrifice and achievement when starting your own business – it takes time to build relationships with clients, explore and manage the creative process. Once you’ve built a strong rapport with clients and you’ve streamlined your process, you can address time head-on.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
The most challenging aspect of running your own business is assuming the many roles of the business environment. Many advocate that the quality of your team will make or break you. Currently, I’m a one-woman show, coordinating every aspect of my business from project management to creative direction to public relations. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to develop and sustain positive relationships with clients and members of the community. Community is a valuable resource for collaboration and support.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
Sharing vision is very difficult when an individual or business is in the process of cultivating brand identity and signature style. I’ve learned that creative direction is a mutual effort, which is why I advocate a collaborative client environment. Before, I would take on writing assignments to complete tasks for clients, whereas I now consult with clients all throughout the process to ensure that my work fully promotes their mission and longterm goals.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Pursue what you love, and do so intelligently.
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
The first thing I do in the morning is access my mailbox to consult with clients, publication partners, and press-related inquiries.
Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.
I very strongly believe in asserting my expertise and standards, therefore formal business documents like agreements and contracts are absolutely necessary for each assignment. Having experienced mishaps in business due to failed communication of ideas and process, I have made an imperative effort to address potential problems ahead of time. Beginning freelancing is incredibly challenging if a logistical foundation is not in place. One must demand respect for the time and skills dedicated to the job.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
Being your own boss requires you to set the example for the your business’ work etiquette/culture. In order to seriously plan for the growth of your business, you must set the standard – this includes assuming a schedule to work by (ie: 9 am-5 pm), determining your methods for client consultations and project management, even your company dress code and rules for conduct.
When you’re in the beginning stages of business development, your personal brand makes the first impression before your business. Solidifying your brand and establishing your business’ brand is very crucial.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
One of the biggest rewards of business is to see your client succeed. When your client is honored by community and in the press, you are awarded the utmost worth. One memorable success was witnessing a client surpass her expectations for brand launch and reception by 200% via Kickstarter; another was learning a client had secured a television spot on ABC.
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
Perform market research, study the ever-developing world of social media and practice more creative writing prompts!
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. How strong is your personal brand?
2. Have you investigated the economics of your idea?
3. Have you created a business plan to address the business entity and financial risk?
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
Brand Aid by Larry G. Linne and Patrick Sitkins (forward by Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com), Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, and Skillshare.