…and its name is The Champ Media Agency.
(We’ll use that as the reason
excuse as to why I haven’t written anything substantive here in quite a while).
Although I didn’t give birth physically, I feel like I definitely birthed something. It’s amazing, rewarding, scary, frustrating and challenging – all at the same time…just as I imagine parenting to be (except without the stretch marks). And yes, there are times when I contemplate giving this joint up for adoption. Then, I come to my senses. I’m pretty sure all parents have felt that way. 😉
The Champ Media Agency is my baby, but it took a while to get to this point.
I actually had the idea or the inclination to start my business 2 years ago, but I procrastinated, made excuses and just flat out ran from it for just as long (if not longer) out of fear.
I tell everyone that I was a reluctant entrepreneur – a VERY reluctant one, in fact. Why? Because I knew first-hand what it was like to always be “on,” to experience vicious cycles of feast or famine, and to outwork everyone else because of passion, reputation with the lives of your family and business depending on it.
What I didn’t realize was that all this time, I was being prepared for the journey ahead…
I grew up in the entrepreneurial trenches. My mother was an entrepreneur, who built a fairly successful catering business and restaurant from the ground up. No investors. No MBA. No outside funding (including small business loans). No prior business experience.
She started that business a couple years before I entered high school and I remember spending entire summers, nearly every weekend and just about every major holiday…working. It was truly the family business because as the saying goes, “good help is hard to find.” I lived in kitchens, banquet halls and churches
throwing working parties for everyone else (even some of my high school classmates and their parents).
I put my writing and marketing skills to work early, creating marketing material (pamphlets and brochures, a logo, formatting a menu) and writing contracts at 12 years old. I would record meetings, calculate invoices, and send e-mails and faxes (this was before the massive growth of social media). I was knee deep in it. I really didn’t know I had a gift (or skillz) because that part came so easily for me.
But, when I graduated from high school, I decided that I was going to attend college out of state, get my education and find a great job. No entrepreneurship for me. Nope. Uh uh. I did. not. want.
The funny thing is, though, I also had these magnificent dreams of building my own omni-media empire (kinda like Oprah). But I thought that wouldn’t (or couldn’t happen) until I gathered enough legit “experience.”
I had it all planned out, really (in my mind at least). I’d gather as many internships (those dreaded FREE internships, at that), get my resume and cover-letter iron clad, graduate with honors from both undergrad and grad…and ferociously job hunt so I could get all this paid “experience” I needed to grow my knowledge-base…so that I could be the next Oprah…or the
beast COURTNEY I knew I could be.
Buuuuut that didn’t happen. Life has a funny (or tragic) way of guiding you. I found myself with a perfectly formatted (and populated) resume, a compelling cover letter, more letters behind my name than I needed…and jobless.
I mean, I could not BUY a job for a solid YEAR after I graduated from grad school. No lie.
It was during that very difficult time of self-loathing, resume-shipping, business professional attire-wearing, and interview-traveling (which ALL ended in rejection…LOL) that I started feeling something…ideas…bubbling up inside me. It was the first time I had really entertained the idea of maybe starting a communications company.
But I was scared. I was petrified, actually. I didn’t know the first thing about business (at least I THOUGHT I didn’t – catering/food service was a far cry from media), I didn’t have any real clients (my friends who would hit me up to edit their grad papers, CVs, resumes, cover letters, commencement speeches, etc weren’t enough to sustain me), I felt like I didn’t have enough “legit” experience (because…every agency, company, organization, etc wouldn’t hire me), and of course, I thought I needed more money.
So, I procrastinated. I job hunted some more. I “networked.” I got some great leads and then found myself back at square one once again. I wrote. I made excuses. But, all the while, I was voraciously reading everything I could about social media marketing, entrepreneurship and personal development. Still, I felt I wasn’t quite ready to take that leap yet.
But, just like there’s never a perfect time to have a baby, there’s never a perfect time to start a business. I was waiting for that perfect time – all the while delaying the inevitable and becoming more frustrated and disillusioned.
But then, one day, this matchmaker I had been following online for YEARS appeared in my Facebook timeline saying he needed an intern to help him manage his social media and personal website. I happened to see it, thought I had absolutely NOTHING to lose, responded to the call for applicants, and BOOM…
I was in there like swimwear. I was nervous, but I had been following his online platform for years, so I knew where I could come in and help improve things. And, he was actually open to my suggestions. I was actually helping to manage an online platform for a person whose values matched mine, whose dreams and goals were just as big and audacious and my own, and who valued my “expertise” (I have that?!).
I mean, he trusted me with his brand. ME. The same person that hundreds of media agencies and PR firms told I needed more experience or that I wasn’t a “good fit” (whatever that means).
Pretty soon, he inquired about becoming a client of mine. That experience helped give me the confidence I needed to start. Like, seriously launch my own media and communications company. For real this time.
…So I did. Still scared as ever. Still unsure about how it all was going to work out. Still not rolling in the dough or “financially stable” as I thought I should have been in the past.
But, things were different this time: I actually believed…no…I determined in my mind that I WOULD do it. and be successful. I gave myself no other choice. I stopped hedging my bets. I burned my “plan B” bridges and I leapt.
The net is still manifesting itself and I’m still in mid-air, but I’m either going to make a net appear, or I’m going to tuck and roll.
My life depends on the former.
I had to sit with myself for a long time and determine just how I was going to go about using my skills, passions and talent to build a life for myself. And, it finally dawned on me that I’d have to build it myself. I’d have to make my own dreams come true.
So, I had a baby. I went through what seemed like YEARS of preparation, incubation, perspiration and frustration (a preacher is going to steal that, I just know it), but it’s here. A bouncing baby business that is testing every ounce of fortitude I have (and will continue to do so in other ways).
…Its name is The Champ Media Agency and it’s one of the most rewarding (and scariest) things I’ve ever produced. I named it that because that’s been my childhood nickname given to me by my mom since before I can remember. It means a lot to me because even in the toughest struggles I realize that she employed the unbelievably powerful nature of words and spoke over my life, declaring me a “Champ,” a winner – even before I knew what winning was or that I was one.
It’s what I spend my days and nights thinking about. It’s what I pour all I have into without regard to time or space. Its survival is solely dependent upon my choices and the moves I make…
…and -ish is about to get real.
“There but for the grace of God, go I”
You can learn more about this new venture by visiting my website: GoChampMedia.com. The Champ Media Agency is a media and communications company helping your messages “stick” in a noisy world. The mission is two-fold: I’m dedicated to helping time-starved individuals communicate more effectively, and I help entrepreneurs manage inspired and engaged online communities. I take the headache out of editing, social media and web content maintenance, allowing you to be successful in other pursuits. Together, when we work, you win! You can also connect with my business on Facebook and Twitter.