17 July 2012

Kendel Falkson: Keeping it a small business

Kendel Falkson, Blank Page Communications
It was while working in communications with a friend that Kendel Falkson realised she could go into business for herself. She opened Blank Page Communications in 2009 from her home in Johannesburg, with around R6 000 as seed money and the belief that her venture could help her realise her entrepreneurial dreams.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, “The Boss”.

What kind of planning went into starting the venture?
I didn’t have a business plan per-se, but I made a point of getting all I needed to understand and know about my business down on paper first. I worked through the following steps:
PROCESSES: I asked myself, "What do I want to do and how?" I then wrote a list of steps I needed to follow, from picking up the phone to call a prospective client, to finding answers for things like how I was going to charge for my services, how I’d do the actual work as one person, how my filing system would be set up, if I’d use freelancers, what my tax options were, how I’d find clients, etc. Once I’d done this, I was much clearer on exactly how the business would run.
BRAND IDENTITY: I decided on a company name, then set about getting a logo done and having my stationery made.
HOME OFFICE: I set up my fully-equipped “home office”, sorting out a desk, chair, laptop, printer, files, etc. Once that was complete, I picked up the phone and started…

What was your big dream for this venture?
I don’t want to be a huge corporation. I want life balance. I’m a mom, a wife, a business owner, and I want to do all all three the best I can. I love my work and want to be able to give my clients my best attention, so I want to keep the business small.

How does a new entrepreneur find business leads and profit from them?
You have to find a newtork of people you can meet with regularly to brainstorm with or bounce ideas off of. It can just be three friends who own their own business; as long as you’re not completely isolated.

How do you figure out what makes you unique from everyone else in your market and how do you leverage that difference?
If you’re passionate and energetic about your business, you will do well. I know that I’m far more likely to work with people who I feel in safe hands with and the only way you become a safe pair of hands is to know your business inside and out and be confident in that.

How did you figure out what to charge for your service/product?
That came from chatting to people in the industry. Even something as simple as calling a business that’s in a similar niche as you are and asking for a “dummy” quote can help you set your prices.

What are the two biggest/most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make in their first three years of business?
They spend too much money – it’s great to have lots of money all of a sudden, but that doesn’t mean spend it all at once! Success can also mean forgetting to save for that rainy day or quiet patch – believe me, they come around every now and then.

How do you keep yourself motivated?
This is the hardest thing in business! I normally have a few days of feeling depressed before I realise what is bugging me… then, I usually take a day off and go and do the things that inspire me. I go to the gym and do some boxing – I find I’m very angry when business is bad, so I start my off day getting rid of all my anger and frustrations. Then I go and have a breakfast out, visit shops I like, see a movie, spend time with friends and remind myself why I started this in the first place.

Is it ever alright to give up on a dream?
Sometimes giving up is better than being forced shut!

If you could give yourself any advice back then, what are your top 3 wisdoms?
* The wheel always turns – sometimes business is slow and you want to cry, or you lose a client or a big pitch, but the wheel always turns; business goes in ebbs and flows.
* You can never become complacent; that’s when you lose business.
* If you do do something really damaging you need to learn from it. You can’t take it back but you can NEVER do it again. You have to keep learning!

Get in touch with Kendel Falkson from Blank Page Communications via email: kendel@innovise.co.za, on LinkedIn: Kendel Falkson and on Twitter: @kendelfalkson

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