Figure It Out

Introduction from Alana:

Today, it’s a pleasure to introduce the amazing, high-energy, fun and brilliant Kate O’Neill Rauber, Communications Consultant and Founder of KOR PR.  She is an entrepreneur and communications expert who consults to companies, big and small, to assist with their PR and marketing efforts.  It was a “tall” order, but given her breadth of experience, during this Global Entrepreneurship Week, it seemed a perfect opportunity for Kate to share a few lessons learned along the way.   She does so in an informative and humorous way that will help us all to be smarter and more focused about our professional pursuits.  With that, I give you Kate O’Neill Rauber…

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Guest blog from Kate O’Neill Rauber

Kate O'Neill RauberI recently closed a business.

Walking away, I feel a little lighter, a bit nostalgic, more confident and a lot smarter.  More on the confidence piece in a minute.

My business was an online clothing store called TallChicksRule.com.

Great name, right?

If you know a female taller than 5’9”, you likely know the plight of tall fashionistas. I’m here to assure you: The struggle is real.

There’s this crazy misperception by clothing designers and retailers that if you’re a tall woman, you’re one of three things:

  1. 80-years old
  2. Amish
  3. A librarian

Seeing how I’m none of these — though I do like to read — I knew there had to be other tall chicks who wanted fashionable clothing options.

After all, our petite friends have lots of choices. Why should tall ladies be shorted?

I launched TallChicksRule in April 2008.  For the next few years, I ran all aspects of the business.

I negotiated with buyers and purchased inventory. Never done that before. 

I oversaw the company financials. Dude, I’m a PR person. We just round.

I handled all IT needs. Seems like a good time to share that I did not go to DeVry. 

Ninety-five percent of the time, I had no idea how to do something or it was my first time trying.

I just had to figure it out.

And, that’s where the confidence comes from my now closed business: I learned that I could figure it out.

TallChicksRule was not a commercial success. At one point, I owed $50,000. On a credit card. I’ll let that sink in.

(Pretty sure that day I started questioning my decision not to drink. And, decided that a flask would be my next fashion accessory.)

But it was a professional success that will continue having a lasting benefit on my career.

The first 15 years of my professional life were spent in corporate PR. I can’t think of many communications positions that would have provided first-hand experiences like:

  • Figuring out how to stay self-funded and digging myself out of that $50k hole.
  • Attending the top clothing “markets” and pitching hundreds of manufacturers on the benefits of making special sizes for my clients.
  • Opening a brick-and-mortar location – despite having no retail experience – while continuing to run the ecommerce site, and my PR consultancy – AKA my day job.
  • Learning how to navigate city, state and federal tax regulations. (Have I mentioned I’m not a mathlete?)

I now own just one business – a PR consultancy. My focus is on helping companies of all sizes tackle external, internal, executive, social and HR communication needs.

TallChicksRule didn’t lead to the early retirement I hoped but it did make me a better consultant.

I know what my small business clients face every day because I lived it. I get that their days are full of tasks they’ve never tried. And, I know how it feels to stare at a to-do list and think, “How will I ever…?”

The difference between Kate today and Kate 2008 is I now have the confidence and business know-how to help them figure it out.

After all, I’ve walked in their shoes. Mine are probably just a bigger size.

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