6 Lessons Learned from 6 Years Running My PR Company

Somehow six years have blown past and my company, Allyson Conklin PR, is nearly halfway through our seventh year in business!

Some years felt like they were moving at warp speed, while others dragged on until the bitter end (not naming names…2017). But every year there was one thing that stayed constant: I get to do what I love while working with the most extraordinary people and brands. So with that said, I thought I’d get a little personal and share the six things that I learned during our sixth year in business (is this considered inception?). Buckle up folks, it’s about to get real up in here!

1. Bigger does not always mean better

2017 was an incredible year of growth for ACPR. It was our best year yet revenue-wise, thanks to our existing base of loyal clients, along with the new faces that joined our party. This meant that I had to beef up my staff. And boy was it exhilarating. And stressful. And exhausting. But as I crossed that bridge and found myself in new territory with two full time employees, I learned that bigger does not always mean better. A bigger agency doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better service. A bigger budget doesn’t always mean that you’re getting better results. A bigger team doesn’t mean that you’re better off in general. It’s perfectly fine to be small, and knowing where I’ve been, where I’m going and where I am right this very second, I’m ok with exactly where we are, size-wise.

2. Things change…and relationships do, too

If you would have asked me at the start of 2017 if I would foresee things changing drastically both internally and externally within the year, my answer would be ‘no.’ But they did. I said goodbye to a longtime employee who I miss dearly. I parted ways with longterm clients that left me in shock. And with each change I had to grapple with the fallout, and even sadder, the lost relationships. Yes, all of these changes were necessary and good, but lord almighty they were painful at times. What I learned is that the only thing we *can* expect is change. Things just can’t stay the same, as change is inevitable. And if we fight it, it’s just going to hurt more. In our seventh year, I’m all about the ebbs and flows, and appreciating every moment and relationship for exactly what it is.

3. Good things take time (and sometimes a lot of it)

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call me Allyson Instant Gratification Conklin. But what can I say, I’m a product of today’s world. If I want something, I want it now. But that’s not how the business world works. In retrospect after our sixth year, maybe it’s not a bad thing? There’s a reason that they say patience is a virtue, and a reason that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. This last year I learned that if you force things, they likely won’t be sustainable. If you rush to make a decision, it likely isn’t the right choice. If you choose the easy route, chances are it’ll make your life harder. And ain’t nobody got time for that. As frustrating as it is to wait, I’ve learned that if it’s good, it’s worth waiting for.

A bigger agency doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better service. A bigger budget doesn’t always mean that you’re getting better results. A bigger team doesn’t mean that you’re better off in general.

4. A new office space changes everything

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVED my home office space (no surprise here since one of my core values is ‘home’). But there came a time when it became critical that I separated my business and personal life by finding an office outside of the home. Quite honestly, I was tired of feeling like I had people in my personal space 24/7, that I couldn’t spend a sick day on the couch or knock off early without feeling weird that I was leaving someone to continue working downstairs. Plus rushing to vacuum up all the dog hair on the hardwoods first thing every morning was getting a little out of control. To me, finding an office space was so much more than a financial decision. But I’m happy that we made it, because it changed everything. Yes, there are benefits (a new space to decorate!) and drawbacks (I have to reserve a conference room for sensitive calls), but the biggest benefit I see is that it alleviated some of my imposter syndrome. It’s weird how that works, right?! And I’m happy to report that it’s not just me who’s thriving in our new space, everyone is. 

5. Time off is a good thing

I never really quite understood the term “time off,” especially as an entrepreneur. Over the last six years I’ve never been away more than five days. And I’ve always chosen to take my computer with me, no matter if my trip was business or personal. It felt scary to leave the business for more than a long lunch. To step away and trust that everything was going to continue moving forward and still be there, and successful, when I got back. But I’ve learned that importance of taking time off. Resting and recharging is key, and unfortunately I didn’t do it well in our sixth year. And this resulted in me getting sick more than normal, waking up in a panic some nights, finding myself becoming burned out a little more easily than usual, and feeling more anxious about the business as a whole. So I’m making it a goal this year to take at least a day off a month (and really take the day), plus go on a long vacation without my computer.

6. Staying true to yourself is the only way

Blame it on getting older and hopefully a touch wiser, but why waste one moment being someone you’re not? Admittedly, as a people pleaser that places way too much emphasis on being liked, I wasn’t always true to myself in our sixth year. And in those situations, I didn’t feel good about myself and whatever I did often came back to bite me. In my sixth year, I got to know myself better than I ever have before. I took *all* the personality tests. I worked with a business coach. I read self-help and business books. And slowly, but surely, I got to see myself for who I really am. Simultaneously, I began to understand the importance of showing that version, my true self, to the world. I’m stubborn but I’m fair, sensitive but resilient, pragmatic but loyal, and strong but kind (the list goes on and on, like the Sara Bareilles song). I’m not gonna lie, but I sort of like this version of me (maybe that’s why I decided on ’emergence’ for my 2018 “word”). I’m confident that this version is the one that will help me continue to drive ACPR along on a path of success for the next six years.

Before I leave you, here’s a final bonus lesson: The Universe has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need. Not what you want. There’s a difference. Just be open to it. That’s all I have to say about this. #believe

A version of this article originally appeared on AllysonConklinpr.com