Six Years of Business, Six Lessons I’ve learned…

Posted on November 11, 2015

I can’t believe I’ve been running Intern Queen full-time for six years! One of our Intern Queen Team members had a great idea for a blog post. She suggested I write one lesson I’ve learned through each of my six years of business. Here goes:

  • Set Specific Goals Each Day, It’s a Numbers Game. When I first started my business, the only real revenue stream was my speaking career. I remember making some crazy goal for myself that every day I’d call at least 40 different schools to ask if they wanted me to come speak. Looking back, I think to myself, “Man! That’s a lot of calls.” But I hustled and it worked. By making all of those calls, I was able to hit the numbers I needed to hit to stay in business and not have to get a part-time job. And looking back, it really was a numbers game. If I called 40 schools each day, I knew I’d get about 1-2 interested schools over the course of that month, and I did.
  • Keep Your Eye on the Ball; The Ball is the Money. Everyone knows I started Intern Queen because I’m passionate about internships and helping young people succeed. However, if I sat around and answered fan mail all day, I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills or keep the lights on. In 2011, I learned that if I really wanted to grow the business, I was going to need to keep my eye on the ball and the ball was the money. I had to shift my focus to revenue and really focus on growing the different revenue streams of the business.
  • Contracts Don’t Necessarily Matter. I got burned pretty badly in 2010 by a company who made a deal with me. They were supposed to pay X amount of dollars for traffic that I sent to their website. PS: They didn’t pay me. We had a contract signed so I assumed they had to pay me. Could I have spent some money and taken them to court? I’m sure, but at the time, I didn’t have the resources or the contacts and to be honest, I was scared. I remember saying to myself, “I don’t understand – we have a contract” and then someone saying to me something along the lines of “welcome to the real world, sometimes people just don’t pay.” This situation made me proceed with caution when I do business with a company. I try to only go into contracts with brands or people I have strong relationships with. I also proceed cautiously when dealing with start-ups who might have funding issues that could affect my paycheck.
  • You Don’t Need to Hire Another You. In 2012, I started to focus on growing the business in terms of new hires. I brought on our first part-timer turned full-timer and had her do a little bit of everything. She was supporting me in everything the business had going on; campus marketing, internship posting, my schedule, client relationships, student relationships, etc. At the end of 2012, I realized that I had made her life just as chaotic as mine. It didn’t help to have two people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. My team member and I sat down at the end of 2012 and I remember her saying, “It doesn’t help the business for me to be an extension of you, it’s just too hectic. I need to focus on specific parts of the business”. And she was spot on. Since then, we’ve tried (as best we can for a small business) to hire people for specific parts of the business instead of having the overall support mentality.
  • If You Want to Grow, It Has to Scale. The feedback I’ve always received about Intern Queen is, “You are only one person. How can you scale?” And over the years I’ve wrestled a little bit with that question. But in 2013, I developed a scalable business model by focusing efforts on campus marketing programs, advertising, and our internships platform. These aspects of the business are in some way – extensions of what I’ve created but don’t live or die with my personal presence. They are living/breathing machines of their own.
  • You Must Captain the Ship. As CEO of Intern Queen, it’s my responsibility to make sure everything is moving in the right direction. I have to keep my team focused, our partners focused, and ultimately – make sure all deals, partnerships, transactions, and clients are happy and moving smoothly. In 2014, our business grew quite a bit. I spent a lot of time in the sky (literally – I flew 150,000 miles) and it’s not easy to captain a ship from the sky. If I learned anything from 2014, it’s that I can’t always be in the air and when I am in the air, I have to plan ahead and have guidelines in place so that I can still be in the loop while traveling.

The lessons of 2015 are still to come! For more of my stories and tips, check out Welcome to the Real World.