Name: Deborah Oster Pannell
Company Name: Project Mavens
What does your company do? I write and edit online content, promotional copy, books, proposals, bios, articles and essays. I help people to clarify their voice and their messaging. Then, I help them connect to the right people so they can develop their natural audience and their community. I also work on collaborative teams for all sorts of creative projects.
When did you start your first company and what made you make the leap into business ownership? I had started my own LLC years ago, when I was doing independent film and video work. My company was called Beyond Our Own Filmworks, LLC. Then, three years ago, I had already been doing some freelance writing and project work for a couple of years when my then current full time gig ended, as the start-up I was working for lost its funding. I decided then to start doing business as Project Mavens, as an umbrella for all of my freelance projects.
How did you get your first customer? I started by pitching my ideas to people I was really excited about working with and had something unique and creative to contribute to their project. From there, almost immediately, I began receiving other work by referral from people who had gotten to know my writing and editing.
Who is the right person to book your services? My services are ideally suited to the person or small team who is looking for someone to help them capture their vision in words. So many times, people have an idea of what they are trying to accomplish, but they don’t have the language to communicate their concept to their ideal audience or customer. I can help make these connections.
What does owning your business allow you to do? My favorite things about owning my own business are the freedom to work around my needs as a single parent, and the ability to pick and choose the types of projects I want to take on.
What has been your biggest achievement so far? I am most proud of the writing resume I have accumulated over the past few years, especially the collection of interviews I’ve done for Under30CEO and techsytalk LIVE. I have developed an ability to tease out compelling stories from conversations with people about their life and work. It’s been especially gratifying to get positive feedback from people I admire on the stories I’ve written about them.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? My biggest challenge has been and continues to be time management.
When you look at your business in 5 years, where do you hope it will be? In five years, I plan to be working even more independently than I am now, traveling around the world interviewing people and covering events and other stories in many locations. Ideally, my ongoing projects will accommodate a more mobile lifestyle that also allows me to pursue my purely creative, passion projects.
How do you define success? To me, success is being able to support myself completely by doing work that I love to do with people I love to be around.
Finally, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Every single working experience presents an opportunity to learn more about our strengths and weaknesses. Although they can be painful as anything, our failures offer us invaluable wisdom about boundaries, expectations, good business practices and the importance of being kind to ourselves and others when we make mistakes. We should never stop learning. Ever.
Date: January 30, 2017