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This week’s Work-At-Home Success story comes from Anita A. Brightman of A. Bright Idea LLC.
Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA, founded A. Bright Idea, an award-winning full-service creative agency in the summer of 1996. A. Bright Idea provides strategic solutions for a diverse client base including government, retail and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. Anita and the team at A. Bright Idea earn accolades and awards from the League of American Communication Professionals, Public Relations Society of America, Top 100 Minority Business or women Entrepreneurs in Maryland, Most Influential Marylander in 2015. Anita and her family enjoy a bi-coastal lifestyle, spending time between California and Maryland. A jack-of-all-trades, Anita enjoys cleaning (yes, cleaning!) entertaining, cooking, and thumbing through creative design or food and wine magazines in her spare time.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I started A. Bright Idea as a home based business because that made the most economical sense at the time. That arrangement offered a healthy work-life balance that allowed me flexible hours to raise my family while remaining active in my professional career.
Through smart growth decisions, strategic timing and invaluable support and encouragement from small business organization professionals, A. Bright Idea grew from a home-based business utilizing freelance support to a full-service agency, with offices on the East and West Coast, offering advertising, public relations, graphic design, interactive and multimedia services employing nearly 40 staff members. Knowing the flexibility was key to my success in growing the business, I continue to promote that work-life balance for my employees.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I worked in the Defense Industry for a large corporation for several years after college graduation. When the contract was coming to an end, I thought I would do some freelance work until I transitioned to a new position. I was looking forward to working on a variety of projects for different clients and within a few weeks was busy with several projects. Keeping busy meant looking forward and prospecting for new business so thankfully, I never made time to look for that other position.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
Working in the creative industry and understanding the importance of brand, I started A. Bright Idea by developing our name and logo. I wanted something more creative than Brightman and Associates and liked the name Wordsmith. However, knowing the business was a reflection of me and that creative concepts are the execution of ideas, I moved forward with A. Bright Idea, utilizing a combination of my name and an expression of the service the business offers.
Concurrently, I reached out to the local Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) for business management guidance and support.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
I started the business with no clients. Each day, I prospected for new business and submitted proposals to prospective clients. I started by calling on friends and neighbors and within a few weeks, I had two new clients., A. Bright Idea began as a subcontractor for Michael Baker Corporation in support of the Directorate of Public Works at Aberdeen Proving Ground and was working on a photo shoot and advertisement for a youth savings program called Moola Moola offered by a local credit union.
5) How do you market your business?
Although we advertise and participate in conferences and networking events, I believe in a service model for the business. When you do good work and treat customers like friends, they will want to continue working with you and recommend you to others.
6) What does your usual day look like?
There are no usual days at a creative agency! Each day looks different full of new opportunities, issues to troubleshoot, successes to celebrate and trending best practices to execute. The diverse nature of owning your own creative agency brings personal growth and understanding as you learn to thrive through adversity. My days consist of collaboration with our creative team and our clients, seeking out new opportunities, building new and solidifying current relationships, as well as fueling my passion for the strategic creative process.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and with over 26 years in the industry, I continue to learn and grow becoming reinvigorated and inspired by each new strategy, campaign idea and innovative technology trend. It was my skill as a pubic relations practitioner that made me start my business and what also drives me forward. As the saying goes, “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,” really rings true. However, I wish I would have known how much administrative and compliance burden you’ll also have to shoulder as a business owner. You can be a great technician but the reality is that you’ll also spend a significant amount of your time managing the business and that includes marketing, accounting, human resources and information technology requirements.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
If I can impart advice to those just starting out it would be to have a strong support system in place. This includes your family, friends, a good lawyer, accountant and HR professional. You’ll be working hard and potentially earning less than you expect. You’ll need people to uplift you on the journey and help guide you through the inevitable challenges you’ll face.
My second piece of advice is to start tracking your time immediately. Knowledge is power and knowing how much time you spend on different tasks helps you make informed decisions about everything from how to bid on a project, your capacity to take on new projects and the profitability of projects.
Website URL: ABrightIdeaOnline.com
Facebook Page: ABrightIdea