Kris Ruby is president of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Kris is a frequent on-air commentator and has appeared on Fox News, Bravo TV, Good Morning America and more. Follow her @sparklingruby.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My heroes are my parents. They worked hard and dedicated their entire lives to making sure my brother and I were put in a position to succeed. From choosing a place to raise us that had the best schools (Westchester County, NY) to paying for our education at Boston University and Columbia University, my parents made it possible for both of us to be able to start a business when we graduated without having to pay off hefty student loan debt.
Their tenacity to continue working and be seen inspires me to keep hustling and do more. If they can do it, I can do it. They have a strong work ethic and always taught me to work for whatever I wanted in life. It’s the reason I am able to keep clients today. I don’t expect things, and when things get difficult, I don’t give up because there is nothing to fall back on.
When you are always in survival mode, you learn to compete in the marketplace because you have to. I think this is a critical component of entrepreneurship.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
My dad once said, “Don’t be afraid of big numbers.” I think this is invaluable advice for any entrepreneur. Often, when we get started, we are so eager to get new business that we say yes to quotes that are below what’s required to adequately do the job. It is better to give a higher number upfront and properly set expectations with a client than it is to say yes to a lower number and surprise them later on by saying it was out of scope and over-budget. It’s best to be transparent from the beginning, even if that means losing potential business.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The single biggest mistake I made in my business was thinking I could do it all. I filmed a reality show while also running an agency. Even though I was able to keep things afloat and manage my accounts, my focus was shifted from growing my business to keeping everything at bay. When you shift focus, you open yourself up to market vulnerabilities and competitors claiming your territory. While you’re filming and managing your accounts, they could be at networking events meeting your potential clients.
The moral of the story: Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should. There are consequences that are unforeseen until months or years after the fact. Keep this in mind when evaluating opportunities and your overall business plan.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I run a public relations and social media agency, so the first hour of my day is typically spent going through all of my client notifications on social media. I also review all incoming responses from media on stories we are coordinating and check out the PR opportunities of the day through incoming subscription services and online communities.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
I spent thousands of dollars a month on office space — I just had to have the nicest office on Wall Street overlooking the water on the 40th floor. But guess what? Not one client ever came to see the office because it was too far from where they were located. Instead of paying two rents for years, I could have reinvested those same funds in another team member to assist with work.
The takeaway? Don’t spend money on things you don’t need. Don’t be fooled into the old-school way of thinking that you need to have a fancy office space to be legit. Instead, you need to produce real results for clients.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Invest in SEO training. One of the areas we’re great at is consistently putting out strong, helpful content on our blog. However, writing great content is not useful if it isn’t optimized with proper keywords and terms that prospects are using to find companies in your vertical.
It’s worth it to at least understand the basics of SEO so you can think about incorporating these keywords into your content before you start promoting your company.
I think there are a lot of missed PR opportunities for entrepreneurs who don’t understand the correlation between PR and SEO. For example, a press hit on your company is great to have, but it would be even better if there was a backlink back to your site with optimized alt text.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
You have finally succeeded when you start becoming more focused and value your time. When you just start out, you want to be everywhere and say yes to everything. This often doesn’t translate into the results you are looking for because it’s a “let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” mentality. When you become more focused on who your target demo is, all of your messaging will become more clear, and how you spend your time will become more clear. You will also understand who you serve, why you serve them, how best to serve them and how to reach them.