Chelsea O'Donnell Business Planner / Marketer, Journey Communications
Hi, I am Chelsea and I have the great pleasure of owning Journey Communications, a consultancy that delivers marketing strategy, client acquisition and brand building services to cater to the needs of start-ups and growing small businesses.
The majority of our business comes from young businesses that got started by filling a niche, but now that they are up and running, they aren't sure which direction to move in.
To help them, we generally start with a business planning session which helps the business identify their broad five year vision. We then build a vision map which allows us to get more focused on a one year strategy. We break that down into 90 action plans which allows the business owner to get more focused on how their day to day business building actions can and should be geared to their longer term vision. The session also allows them to see holes which need to be filled, some of which are marketing based. That's where we begin working with them longer term, specifically in the areas of PR, communications, content and social media.
We work with businesses in lots of industries from health, beauty and wellness to hospitality, even finance and legal!
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I've been in marketing and public relations for my entire life. I graduated with a degree in PR and spent my early 20s climbing the ladder at a top PR firm in New York City. When I was 26, I moved to Australia and became head of marketing and PR for a publicly listed financial services start-up. I was also in charge of the personal brand for the company's Executive Chairman, a well known and celebrated Australian business icon. In 2015, after becoming a citizen of Australia, I decided to leave my adopted homeland to travel the world, traversing 18 countries and a dozen US states. In October, I found myself in Los Angeles, where I decided to settle. That's when I started the aptly named Journey Communications.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
A lot of people in marketing get really specific and specialize in what's trendy and new. So they know everything there is to know about Instagram, but they couldn't write an old fashioned pitch letter to save their lives. When working with small businesses (or big businesses) for that matter, they don't care what the method is, they just want help getting the next client. Clicks and impressions don't mean diddly, they just want to know how many bookings came through their restaurant or sales were made through their website. I think a lot of marketing people talk the talk, but it's a language that's only really understood by people in the industry. If you can't communicate to a business owner in a language that starts and ends in dollar signs, what good are you?
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I'm currently helping a letterpress company and a pop-up plant shop with their business plans and I am finishing off some blogs and a social media content strategy for a spa. I'm also reworking the sales funnel and communications plan for a skin care line that's starting to get real traction selling their products in venues overseas. I want to help them make a great first impression and build a strategy to continue supporting these new accounts overtime with PR and marketing content and communication.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
This is a bit tough because I am a business that helps creatives more so than being a creative myself. I love being able to assist small businesses by giving myself and my skills to people who realize that they could use a helping hand. I'm also very dedicated to living my life to the fullest and I have built my business so I can continue to travel and work from the road, whenever wanderlust creeps its way from my peripheral into my direct line of sight. I was once the ambitious New York City girl, but now I am much more focused on the balance of having a career to be proud of instead of one that makes me money. If I can earn a living that allows me to live a life of fulfillment, that's success to me. The story of how I "broke free" might be the best way to communicate my outlook on work and life.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
I love the business planning aspect of my business because it helps me to give creatives, entrepreneurs and small business owners focus and a roadmap forward. Everyone has ideas and there is no lack of creativity in the world. But I find that while many people have the ideas, they don't have the ability to understand how to get those ideas to make them money - or even how to formulate them into a plan. Through my workshops I can help people get their ducks in a row and give them a way to build their business by using all their ideas and concepts in a structured way. It's like letting a toddler scribble all over the wall and then drawing lines around it to make it something people can recognize. The key is letting their creativity shine while putting some parameters in place.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
I'm new to LA so the hardest thing is making contacts here in town. I have clients in LA, Sydney and New York, but because I have larger network in NY and Sydney, I tend to get more work there. Luckily, out of the dozen or so business owners and entrepreneurs I've worked with in LA, nearly all of them have referred me in one way or another. So word of mouth is starting, I just want to make it happen faster! :)
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HOUR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Easy - creating graphics for my own social media content. Being a marketing person isn't the most visually appealing job so it's tough to make my social media (such as Instagram) work well. I write several marketing tips per week and I have to create graphics for all of them, which takes up most of my Sundays. It would be great to have those back!
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
I put myself through a lot of hell climbing the corporate ladder, but I can't say that I would change it because I wouldn't have gained the experience I have now. I have watched businesses crumble from the GFC and rise up in its aftermath. I've almost been laid off by a business going bankrupt and I help build a business that grew from 40 branches to 250 in four years. I've lived in different countries and learned how to sell peddle beer, condoms, life insurance and hair transplant surgery (some were more fun than others). So other than starting to travel earlier in life, I can't say I would change much. And at 35 countries and counting, I can't say i've done so bad at that either.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I would love to have more financial knowledge so I could learn and help business with their investment and funding needs. My expertise lies in the customer acquisition aspect of business building but I think knowing more about the back-end financial requirements would compliment my current skill set.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I'm looking to meet business owners who have laid the foundation for their business but are now looking to take the next step. I work with entrepreneurs who are still in a full-time job and looking to transition to their passion project, and I help build strategies for businesses that report revenues well in the millions. To me, it doesn't matter what your business goal is - all I want is to work with people who are dedicated and serious about growing their businesses.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
My ideal client is someone who is passionate about growing their business and open to exploring ideas. People hire me to help them put a roadmap together, and I want to attract people who are keen to create that map, and follow it. The best partnerships in my mind are with two people or groups who will listen to one another and have an agreed common goal to work towards.
WHAT IS YOUR RATE?
A business planning session generally costs $750 for a half-day workshop and monthly retainers generally run from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the scope of services. A hourly rate based project would be $125.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Where are you and where do you want to be? How much money do you want to make in five years? Let's find a way to make that happen.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Reading, writing (not so much) arithmetic.
This member profile was originally published in March 2016.