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Megan Shroy is a publicist, marketing strategist and the founder of Approach Marketing who has worked with world-renown brands, including McDonald’s, Unilever, Make-A-Wish and Chase. In 2010, at the age of 26, Megan identified a demand in the PR industry. Despite the economic downturn, clients still needed access to top PR and marketing talent, but often times couldn’t afford the agency overhead and large retainer-based relationships. She decided to start her own business – Approach Marketing – a boutique virtual agency providing strategic public relations and marketing services to clients that fit this profile. The Approach team is comprised of highly-talented former agency employees who opted out of their fast-paced careers for greater flexibility.
1) How did you get started working from home?
After spending years with leading PR firms in Chicago and Columbus, it was a fateful turn of economic events that inspired me to find opportunity as a business owner. In the thick of the Recession in 2010, I watched as many of my big agency clients could no longer afford their five digit retainers or multi-million dollar PR programs. I knew they still needed access to marketing services and had the idea to provide them with the work they wanted at an affordable rate – and thus the virtual Approach Marketing concept was born. It was a risk to set out on my own, but one I’m now so glad I took.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I love my career in marketing and public relations, but always challenged the notion that great work had to be done in a big, fancy office. Additionally, as I grew in my roles within large PR agencies, I found I was being moved further and further away from the direct client work and relationships that drew me into this field – because my billing rate became too high. Overhead contributes to a lot of the issues big companies face, so I set out to create a more efficient virtual model that would appeal to clients and potential talent. Like me, our consultants work from their homes or shared office spaces and are able to determine when they work. They are then paired with clients who have similar demands for their time. This offer has drawn in many women, and mothers in particular, who continually strive to achieve a stronger work-life balance. They are able to pursue a career they love while maintaining greater control over their families and households.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
To start, I worked with an attorney and set up an LLC. I met with an accountant to understand what tax preparations I needed to take and how I would go about getting paid. From there, I established a website, email address and had business cards printed. After that, I just had to start winning new business.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
In my case, my first client project is what spurred the idea of starting this agency. It gave me the leap of faith to actually get Approach Marketing started. I began to pitch other clients while I was working on that first project and slowly we won more and more work.
5) How do you market your business?
We leverage a mix of in-person networking and online communication to attract clients and consultants. From attending local and industry events to entering awards competitions to showcase our work, I’m always looking for ways to keep Approach and our capabilities top of mind. Social media is also critical for business owners today. I’ve continued to invest my time into maintaining my personal and business LinkedIn profiles, sharing thought leadership posts as often as I can. We also maintain a presence on Facebook and Instagram.
6) What does your usual day look like?
After getting my two children ready for their days and enjoying breakfast with them, I head up to my home office to prepare for the work day. I set aside time in the morning for business management efforts, including
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish I had written an initial business plan for myself. I was so focused on helping my clients. I think it took me four years to actually hire a business coach and write a business plan. Now I live and die by it. Each year, we work together to break it down into a 3-year, 1-year and quarterly plan with goals and objectives that I’m constantly tracking against. It makes growing a business much more digestible, small goals, one day at a time.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Create a space that you want to work in. It’s hard to “go to work” every day if your home office is in a dark guest bedroom or just at your kitchen table. Carve out a space in your home that is for work and work alone. Sit at a real desk in front of natural light if possible. Incorporate decorative items that make you happy and try not to over clutter. I find that having a designated work space that I love to be in, gets me in the right mindset when I sit down at my desk each day.
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