Taking your small business from startup to grownup with The Boreland Group CEO Jennefer Witter

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Boreland Group Founder and CEO Jennefer Witter learned early on that the best way to get clients was to offer extreme value. But to stay in business, and continue to serve the clients, the author of the Little Book of Big PR also learned when to put the brakes on the discounts. 

In Jennefer’s money story you will learn:

-How to utilize a current network to create a new one

-Why Jennefer values transparency with her clients and how it helped her build a business

-Ways to find out what to charge new clients

In Jennefer’s money lesson you will learn:

-How to create meaningful relationships with new clients

-Three ways to look at the return on investment

-Why Jennefer always sets a definite stop date with her clients

In Jennefer's everyday money tip you will learn:

-The one question Jennefer asks that saves her small business big bucks

-Why it's good to be aggressive in business negotiations

In My Take you will learn:

-Take an angle that makes you eligible for discounts

-Why sometimes working for free has the biggest pay off

Bobbi and Jennefer also talk about:

-Jennefer mentioned that she gets a small business discount for ProfNet, which helps her public relations company get leads

EPISODE LINKS:

Jennefer's book is available online here

Check out The Boreland Group's website here

Follow Jennefer! 

Twitter: @JenneferTBG

Linked In: @Jennefer Witter


Transcription

Jennefer W.:
It was a six month program, and yes I invested, when you added up over $10,000, but what I got back through that $10,000, was multiples in return.

Bobbi Rebell:
You are listening to, Financial Grownup, with me, Certified Financial Planner, Bobbi Rebell, author of, How To Be a Financial Grownup, and you know what? Being a grown-up is really hard, especially when it comes to money, but it's okay. We're gonna get there together. I'm gonna bring you one money story, from a financial grown-up, one lesson, and then, my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, financial grown-up friends. Every business, or pretty much every business, I would think, starts as a start-up, and every business has to get that very first sale, and that very first client, and to make it happen, in most cases, that first client, that first sale, the business owner has to be willing to lose money on the bet, that they will win over that first client, and build from there, but many businesses make a mistake, in that, they don't really set the expectations right, and then when they do have to raise the price, so that they can actually make money, they get backlash, because the client's expectations were not aligned with the realities of the business.

Bobbi Rebell:
Our guest, public relations whiz, Jennefer Witter, who is the head of, The Boreland Group, and by the way, literally, wrote the book on PR. It's called, The Little Book of Big PR, was careful in her approach at that delicate start-up stage, and it has served her well.

Bobbi Rebell:
Welcome everyone. We have a lot of new listeners, that we are very excited about. The show's are short, about 15 minutes, because you're busy, but of course, you can binge, stack a few together. Maybe if you're commuting, have a little more time to listen. Consider it flextime for podcasts, and with that, let's get to our amazing guest. Here is Jennefer Witter.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Jennefer Witter. You are a financial grown-up. Welcome to the podcast.

Jennefer W.:
I am so thrilled to be on, Bobbi. How are you?

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, I'm excited to finally snag you. You are one busy lady. You are, the CEO and Founder of the boutique, Boreland Group, and you're also the author of a book that I loved reading, 'cause I'm kind of on the other side of it. It's The Little Book of Big PR, which is awesome, and it really is a little book.

Jennefer W.:
It's a tiny little book. It's a paperback, softcover. You can also get it as an e-book, and I wanted it to be little, because you know what it's like as an entrepreneur.

Bobbi Rebell:
Yeah.

Jennefer W.:
You have some things on your desk. You have to do this. You have to do that. You don't want to be reading, War and Peace.

Bobbi Rebell:
No.

Jennefer W.:
So, with the full book of Big PR, the full title is, The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed, is you can read a chapter here, a chapter there, or you can read it all at once, and it will not take you more than a couple of hours to read it, and you walk away with information that you can readily use in your business practice.

Bobbi Rebell:
Love that, and you are an entrepreneur. Your business has grown, but when it first started, you had to make some difficult choices, and we always say, "Don't undervalue yourself. Don't give away services for free, but it's kind of complicated." Tell us your mini story.

Jennefer W.:
Well, here's the thing. When I first started The Boreland Group, it was 15 years ago. I really didn't think about becoming an entrepreneur. So, when I decided to do it, it was just like, "You know what? I don't have clients. I don't have any income coming in."

Jennefer W.:
So, I reached out to everybody that I knew, and I said, "Do you know of somebody, who is looking for a boutique public relations firm?" And I got one response back, after sending out like 200 emails, and it was a friend of mine, and he said, "I have a friend, who's sister-in-law is looking for a publicist." And when I met with her, she did not want to pay what I was charging at that time, and so, what I decided to do was invest, because I only was going to have one client, and I knew that once I got that one client, once I got that chance, I would have those doors open.

Jennefer W.:
So, what I did was, she paid me [crosstalk 00:04:20].

Bobbi Rebell:
Wait. Let me just stop you there. So, you say what you were charging, but the truth is, you were charging no one because you had no clients.

Jennefer W.:
No. No clients.

Bobbi Rebell:
This was your first client. Right. So, you had an idea of what you wanted to charge, but you didn't have a rate that you were getting. So, you needed to start building your client roster.

Jennefer W.:
Oh, absolutely, and so what I did with this one client was, and I'll give everything as transparent. I charged her $1,800.00 a month. One thousand, eight hundred dollars, and then, I invested another $1,800.00 into her. So, it normally would have been $3,600.00, but I was only getting back $1,800.00.

Jennefer W.:
Now, you may say, "You're giving away your services." And I absolutely was, but I knew that once people saw what I was doing, getting her into the media, getting her speaking opportunities, that I would be able to build upon this client that I had, into a client portfolio, and after [crosstalk 00:05:16].

Bobbi Rebell:
Was this client, Jennifer, let me ask you, was she aware? Did she really only have budget for $1,800.00, and was she aware that she was getting, quote, double the value of what you felt you should be paid?

Jennefer W.:
Oh, she was absolutely aware, and what I told her was, for this first six months, I would charge her $1,800.00, and at the end of the six months, it would go up to the $3,600.00. So, she was fully aware, and I wrote a program, and I said, "This is what you're going to get overall." And I said, "This part you're going to be paying for. This part is what I'm investing in." And I put together a plan, that was very tight, because you have to be careful about such things. You don't want to say, "I'm going to give you $1,800.00." And you wind up giving somebody $5,000.00. You definitely need to have parameters, that you don't sink yourself before you swim, and once I started to do that, and then I started leveraging, and I'd say, "I have this client. This is what we're doing."

Jennefer W.:
When I was meeting with the media, some of the media saw what I was doing, and they sent some direct clients over to her, and at the end of the six months, I did a new program for her at the full price, $3,600.00, and she knew that it was coming. She saw the work that I was doing. She appreciated everything that I was doing, and more than that, she saw the value. She signed the account. I got paid the $3,600.00. I had other clients, who were paying that amount, and my business was based on an investment, that I knew would pay off in the long run, and it did.

Bobbi Rebell:
And what is the takeaway for our listeners? Among young people, there's a lot of talk coming up in business, that it's really important to be aggressive with your pricing, and not undersell yourself.

Jennefer W.:
You know, I wasn't underselling myself, and you have to want to give, in order to get, and when you have zero clients, and you have the opportunity to get a client, who you know will be the foundation of growing your business, you need to take that step, and you need to invest, and know that at the end of that six months, or whatever timeframe you're going to get your money back. You have to look at the big picture. You have to be long term, and you have to look at that ROI, the return on investment. It can't stretch out forever in eternity.

Jennefer W.:
You need to have a definite stop date, which is exactly what I did with this client. It was a six month program, and yes I invested, when you added up over $10,000.00, but what I got back through that $10,000.00, was multiples in return.

Bobbi Rebell:
That is a great story. Let's talk about your every day money tip, because it also pertains to when you start a business, and you're the small guy, you still need to have the tools, that the big guys have, but they are expensive. So, you have a tip on how you can save, if you are an individual, or a small boutique business, and you have to be assertive about it. Go for it.

Jennefer W.:
Oh, absolutely, and what you need to do, this is what I did. I am a small business. I've always been a small business, and whenever you're going out for products and services, if it's expensive, you know you have to use it, but tell them, "You know what? I'm a small business. Do you have a small business discount? What can you give me? I'm not the Edelmanns, or the Ketchums of the world. I'm not pulling in like $30-$40 million a year. I'm pulling in a fraction, but what I am is a client, and there's more of me than there are of the Ketchums, and the Edelmanns, and the large corporations."

Jennefer W.:
So, if you go out there, and you are aggressive, if you are forceful, and you say, "Look, I'm a small business. I'll be a loyal client. Give me that discount, that I know that you can give me." Let me tell you, it works.

Bobbi Rebell:
Just so our listeners who aren't familiar, you were referencing large public relations firms, 'cause you are in the public relations business. So, can you give us a tangible example, of something that you bought when you were starting out, or buy now, and approximately what it would cost for a large business, and approximately what it would cost for a ... how much you can get a discount from, from sort of the list price, so people have an idea of how much you can ask for?

Jennefer W.:
Sure. One of the services that I use is called, ProfNet, and it's specific to the PR community. What it is, you get pushed about 100 leads a day, and you go through them seeing which ones are, that you can respond to. It's from reporters. It's from producers. They're looking for interview topics for the stories that they are writing or producing.

Jennefer W.:
For large companies, it's several thousand dollars a year. I'm not exactly sure. Like $3,000.00 or $4,000.00, and by making it clear, and asking for a discount, and saying that I am a small business, I got it for less than $1,000.00 a year. So, right there and then, I was able to save about, over $2,000.00, that I would have paid ordinarily, if I had not spoken up and say, "Hey, I'm a small business. I'm a solopreneur. What can you do for me?" And it worked, and I saved a lot of money, because of that.

Bobbi Rebell:
Where can we find you, and find out more about you?

Jennefer W.:
Well, you can always find me on Twitter, which is J-E-N-N-E-F-E-R-T-B-G. You can go to my website, which is The Boreland Group dot com. B-O-R-E-L-A-N-D Group dot com, and I'm on LinkedIn, and again, my first name is spelled funny. It's J-E-N-N-E-F-E-R, and the last name is W-I-T-T-E-R. No h.

Bobbi Rebell:
Is there a story behind the spelling of your name?

Jennefer W.:
You know what? I wish. I just think it was a nurse, who spelled it incorrectly. Both parents deny spelling it with the e, and it's on my birth certificate, so it got there some way.

Bobbi Rebell:
That's so funny. Okay. Love that, but it sets you apart. So, there you go. We're all unique in our own way. Thank you so much, Jennefer, with an e, Witter. This was amazing. Thank you.

Jennefer W.:
Thank you, Bobbi, with an I.

Bobbi Rebell:
Okay, Friends. Alright, let's get right to it. Financial Grownup Tip Number One: Jennefer does a great job asking for discounts, because she is running a small business. That is the angle that she uses. So, think about what your angle is. There's countless ways for you to get a better price, or a better deal in some way, on just about anything, work or personal. You gotta find your angle.

Bobbi Rebell:
One of my favorite ways to get a discount on something that I need, for example, for my business, but don't want to pay the full price, or can't afford the full price. Maybe it's not in my budget. I say that. I just reach out and say to the vendor, "That's just not in my budget right now. Will you be in touch, if and when you have something that's an alternative to the offering, or maybe you can offer me a price reduction, an option that can work within my budget?"

Bobbi Rebell:
I have always gotten a response, and in almost every case, we've been able to work out a way for me to become a client, because ultimately, that's what they want. They want to get you in to their system, as a client, at some level, and then hopefully, later on down the road, they can increase how much you're spending, because you'll see the value in the product.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup Tip Number Two: So, here's the flip side of all that. The most important part of Jennefer's money story, isn't that she lowered the price for her client, or did some of the work for free, however you want to look at it. To get a new client, it's that she had a strategy to end it. Expectations were set right at the outset. So, let's just say, you're on the other side of the business that I just talked about, where you had a business owner like myself coming to you saying, "It's just not in my budget." And you work out a deal to get me onboard. The important thing is to set expectations to say, "Okay, we're gonna do this for one year, and then, in a year when you see the value and hopefully your business is doing better, and your budget would have increased, you're gonna come in at the regular price." And they're hoping, that I, the business owner, will see the value.

Bobbi Rebell:
So, it's important, as Jennefer did, to work with clients when they need you to work with them, but also have them recognize that they are getting something of value, that maybe they're not paying the full price for, and that the expectation is, down the road, the price will meet the level that it needs to be at, for the business owner to sustain their business, because at the end of the day, if you enjoy doing business with somebody, you like their product, you want them to stay in business, and to do so, you need to make a profit. All good things.

Bobbi Rebell:
Another great thing. If you enjoyed this podcast, let a friend know. Help us grow the show. Also, share it on social media. On Twitter, I am at Bobbi Rebell. On Instagram at Bobbi Rebell One, and DM me with your feedback. A lot of you have been doing that, and it's really great for me to hear which episodes really resonate, and what you want to hear more of, and maybe what you're not that into. That's okay too.

Bobbi Rebell:
I love hearing all of it, and as I have mentioned on previous episodes, we are now gearing up to do bonus episodes, which will include listener questions. So, send them in. You can DM me on the socials that I just mentioned, or you can email me them at, hello at Financial Grownup dot com. That's, hello at Financial Grownup dot com.

Bobbi Rebell:
I am such a fan of Jennefer's. She has so much to offer. Do check out her book, The Little Book of Big PR, and of course, The Boreland Group, and thank you, Jennefer, for helping us all get one step closer to being financial grown-ups.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup with Bobbi Rebell, is edited and produced by, Steve Stewart, and is a BRK Media Production.