Many of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs have found success by taking their passion and strategically turning it into a full-time job. The long hours, financial burden and stress that can come with making this switch have the potential to overwhelm anyone. Knowing it’s not all in vain — but in service of something they love, however — makes it all worthwhile for these risk-takers. I so admire individuals with this mindset who have chased their dreams, successfully or not. It takes guts and gall.
One creative gal who is not unfamiliar with turning passion into profit is the Founder of Crush Media, Renae Bluitt. From day one, her love for public relations has never waned, but her passion for some of the brands she was assigned at her old gig sure did. Determined to only work on projects that inspired her, she left behind her job. Renae then set forth to carve out a piece of the PR pie for herself, opening her own firm focused on representing companies in a field she’s passionate about: beauty. By making her own rules and choosing her own clients, she’s been able to combine her passions for PR and beauty and be her own boss. It was a gutsy move, but she couldn’t be happier she took the risk.
Wondering what her recipe for success is? Follow the jump to find out, and to snag some tips on making your own passion profitable. Enjoy! —Garrett
Photography courtesy of Renae Bluitt
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is not to take rejection or “no” personally. When you’re passionate about your work, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that criticism or lack of enthusiasm from another party is personal. Sometimes it is, but most times it’s not.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
The most difficult aspect of starting my business was getting used to the ebb and flow of entrepreneurship. While I would love to have the consistency of direct deposit every two weeks, you can’t really put a price tag on absolutely loving what you do and making a difference through work that is gratifying and empowering for others.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
I was once told that true teachers and leaders must always remain students. Every time you think that you already know something or that a particular task is beneath your talent level, turn it around by asking yourself how you can make it work for you. This instantly puts you into a learning mindset and helps you see opportunities everywhere.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I knew about PR as a career when I was still a student, but wasn’t sure how it played out in the real world. In my first job out of college as a Coordinator for the Chicago Advertising Federation, I wrote for the organization’s newsletter, helped plan events and served as the liasion between the CAF and its members. When I was trying to decide what to do next, my boss told me I had all the makings of a successful PR professional. She pointed out how, in many ways, I was already doing it. She then introduced me to a few seasoned PR practitioners who mentored me and helped me land my first agency job.
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
I decided to start my own PR consultancy after working in an agency environment for years and realizing that starting my own business would truly be the only way I would have control over the types of clients I work with. When I was new to the industry, I didn’t mind working on whatever was assigned to me. As my experience and interests grew, I knew I wanted to specialize in beauty. It was my way of marrying two things I enjoyed to create my dream job.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
I don’t really believe in failures, but one experience that really served as an eye-opener for me was the time I didn’t put a contract in place with a new client. After a couple of months, this client began making late payments and eventually no payments. I had invested countless hours and shared intellectual property with a company that didn’t properly compensate me for my services, and there was nothing I could really do about it without a signed agreement. I wasn’t protected.
If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?
My answer varies depending on the day, but I would treat myself to a little more self-care in the form of sleep, reading, relaxing or just pampering myself.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
My biggest sacrifice has been leisure time. When I first launched my business, I was the Captain of team No Sleep. Now I understand that this concept is totally ridiculous. There’s really no way around it. Our bodies need proper rest. Not sleeping and working around the clock doesn’t mean that you’re some super entrepreneur. It simply means that you’re not working smart and managing your time wisely.
Can you name something you’re most proud of in your business experiences?
In addition to beauty PR, I’m also the voice behind a blog for women entrepreneurs [called] In Her Shoes. I’m most proud of an email I received from a single father. His teenage daughter has dreams of being her own boss one day, so she reads my blog regularly. Getting this email brought me to tears because, through my blog, this young girl is seeing real-life examples of the magic we can create when we follow our dreams.
Renae speaking at a recent event for her blog, In Her Shoes.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I often reference The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The tipping point is that magical moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire. Reading this book really changed the way I think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Not to sound cliché, but the very first thing I would have someone ask themselves is, “Would you do this for free?” This is critical because there may be times when you are working for free in a situation where your investment of time and resources may not balance out with the client’s budget, but you still give 110% because your name and reputation is at stake.
2. Beyond this, I recommend considering what problem your business is solving. The most successful businesses in the world are thriving because they’re solving a problem or filling a void.
3. Lastly, you should consider how much you really want it. What personal sacrifices are you willing to make for your business to grow and succeed?
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
Right now, one of the first apps I look at is Instagram because it serves as somewhat of a newsfeed. I follow a lot of beauty brands and industry influencers, so I get to see what’s top of mind for my colleagues. I’m trying to be more mindful of how I start and end my days, so as of late I’ve been working on kicking off my mornings with prayer, gratitude journaling and meditation instead of diving directly into social media. It really sets the tone for the day.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
Managing the stress. As is with any other job, you can go to sleep at night knowing that the overall success of the company doesn’t begin and end with you alone. When you’re your own boss, you never really stop thinking about your work, finances, your company’s future, etc. It never really leaves you. It just occasionally moves from the front to the back of your mind. I don’t consider myself to be a victim of stress, though. It keeps me going, keeps me innovative and keeps me present when I manage it and turn it into drive and inspiration.
How did you finance your business in the beginning?
I haven’t received any formal financing for either of my businesses, but I receive immeasurable amounts of support from family, friends and people who believe in me and my work. For In Her Shoes events, I offer sponsorship packages to brands which allow them to engage my followers while providing monetary support for the blog’s initiatives.