The idea of Scout Public Affairs Inc. was born in March 2015, founded by myself and my business partner, Faye Roberts. Both Faye and I had spent our entire careers working for large corporations and advancing their agendas. We learned the systems, used company issued equipment, called IT when that equipment didn’t work and collected our pay cheques. So starting our own business created a learning curve that was outside of our professional expertise.
In the past 24 months, we rolled up our sleeves to learn about and invest in our own systems, processes, and tools. That was the hard part, but through a combination of trust, hard-earned experience and two well-established networks, the business took off and kept going. Upon reflection (over a pint or two), here are what we consider our secret sauce to enduring and not looking back…
1. We chose the right partner. In life and in business we all know working with your partner is key to your success and if you choose poorly, the work you put in can just be spinning your wheels with little to show. But when you get it right and you are complementary yet different enough to be interesting, when you can learn from one another, respect one another, and whole-heartedly trust one another there is nothing you can’t do together.
2. We didn’t define our success by dollar figures (alone). Some people chase big titles and others chase salary and financial rewards. When we started Scout, we agreed that time was our valued currency – don’t get me wrong we still like and need money, but for us, Scout allowed for greater flexibility in our schedules for which no amount of money can compensate. As long as we can look after ourselves and our families through both an investment of time and money, we call ourselves successful.
3. We were prepared to change the plan. Before Scout was incorporated we had a well thought-out, somewhat conservative business plan that included financial goals, target clients/markets, and some fitness goals. When it became apparent our financial goals or target market were not working out as planned, we sat down and we re-wrote the plan to reflect the reality on the ground. Acknowledging misalignments and making adjustments has made us even more open to possibility and where Scout could go.
4. We know who we are and who we aren’t. Even choosing the name Scout Public Affairs over Scout Public Relations took some debate and careful consideration because we wanted to ensure we included our government experience in our umbrella. Most PR firms earn media through creative campaigns or parties, whereas Scout does media relations, government relations and crisis management – we seem a little more serious than some of our sparklier counterparts, but I assure you we have a great sense of humour, honest! We are not content marketers, or social media gurus - instead our skills are rooted in communications strategy, often working directly with executive teams on planning and positioning in critically important situations – and surprisingly no one wants balloons there.
5. We have fun. Starting a business and then running a business is stressful and the type of risk that can suck all the fun out of any adventure, but we know that going down the rabbit hole of stress and anxiety does not benefit our clients or us. Instead we choose to make jokes, take breaks when we need to and get the work done all while having fun and it’s working.
Two years into our business, we don’t feel we should sit on our high horse and spout the great success of our business. But we have learned a few things along the way and that’s the topic of our next blog! However, the way we look at it we are in the 20% who survived for two years (according to Forbes.com) and in keeping with another one of our favoured business protocols, we celebrate success every opportunity we can.