Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Fred Haberman, co-founder of cause-related public relations firm Haberman, answers our questions, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
We’re known for proposing ideas that help our clients build social movements. For example, we created the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, our nation’s largest outdoor hockey tournament, which ESPN listed as one of the “101 Things All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die.” More recently, we cultivated our own employer-sponsored garden in which Haberman employees get to work with rakes and shovels and in return take home a basket of fresh fruits and vegetables. Next spring, we’re hoping to bring the concept to other like-minded companies.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Truthfully, I prize being able to sleep in on an occasional workday. But, it’s also living our mission to tell the stories of pioneers making the world a better place. Despite our rapid growth, our mission drives the types of clients and work we take on. If someone else owned us, I doubt we’d be able to do that.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
The biggest challenge is maintaining perspective. My wife Sarah and I have always approached our business as an experiment in matchmaking: joining clients with employees who are passionate about their causes to create campaigns that help people make conscious, sustainable choices. However, passion can overwhelm employees’ sense of personal balance. There are times when we all get caught up in the work and forget to practice what we preach: Live sustainably and take time to enjoy life.
Name: Fred HabermanBusiness: Haberman, a public relations firm.
Industry: Public Relations
Year founded: 1994
Number of employees: 30
Web address: modernstorytellers.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Learning to weed out clients whose interests aren’t aligned with our employees’ enthusiasm or our broader mission. About eight years ago, we walked away from an account that was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The client’s story was phenomenal; our employees were jazzed. Unfortunately, the client’s values and culture clashed with ours. We were unable to do our job, and team morale was low. Fearing that keeping the account would hurt our company, we resigned the account.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Not taking care of myself. As a passionate entrepreneur, I approach life with the excitement of a golden retriever. Maintaining that activity level is engrained in my personality, so I need to be very careful to not take on too many projects or new opportunities. I’ve learned over time that I need to turn off my cell phone and hide from the business world for at least one week per quarter. When I’ve failed to do this in the past, I’ve gotten sick and then became a drain on others and the productivity of our firm.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Always hire people smarter than you.