Just Do It! The Creation of Work City Smart

Posted on June 9, 2015

Kristen Elderson (LinkedIn and Twitter) is a local government professional, art lover and curious mind. Kristen started Work City Smart as a way to do work she loves, more effectively. In her column, she will write about the challenges and successes of starting a local government consulting business.

Just Do It! The Creation of Work City Smart

I am excited to share the trials and tribulations of my new venture Work City Smart, a cost-effective consulting firm that helps local governments get work done. Starting my own business is very personal and represents who I am and what I believe in. I’ve worked on the new venture for six months and everyday has been a learning experience, full of small victories, tough challenges, and unanswered questions. My approach to starting the company was to jump in head first and figure it out as I go, with the goal of becoming a successful civic entrepreneur.
So far, I have worked on:

  • potential 2015 bond measure to purchase open space in the City of San Carlos,
  • the development and implementation of residential parking permit program, and
  • a community shuttle program

The Pitch
One of my biggest challenges has been defining what my company does and packaging that message in a single sound-byte. The elevator pitch, the story, the tagline — where is Don Draper when you need him?! giphy (1)I know that my message needs to be clear, concise and meaningful. I struggle with the clear and concise part. Fortunately, my tagline can’t everything that I think about the company because, let’s face it, people don’t have that much time. Potential clients want to know in 30 seconds or less what Work City Smart is about and what we can do for them.
For now, I have settled on the tagline — “Cost effective consulting for local governments. Pay strictly for work you need. Get more done.” I hope this provides potential clients with an initial glimpse into the work of Work City Smart.
Best Way to Learn Is….
giphy (2)Commence the trial and error. I’ve had a few meetings where I’ve rambled on and on, in circles and up hills, about what I am doing. Some of these meetings have been downright painful. The common result is confused looks, and with people probably wondering if I am looking for a full-time job or getting ready to have kids. Ouch.
I have been able to keep in perspective that the struggle is part of the process.  I know it is one of the many lessons that I am going to learn as a business owner. My takeaway (as hard as it can be) is not to hide and retreat, but to use the feedback, go back to the drawing board and figure out how to do it differently.
Accepting the feedback and using it as a positive has fine-tuned my message. I have developed an a different approach to processing feedback and evaluating myself. After I have a meeting or phone conversation with a potential client, I make notes on the topics that perked them up and piqued their interest, what made them withdraw, what questions they asked and how clear my answers were. I also keep a list of inspiring articles, engaging learning sessions, and meaningful thoughts that help me envision my long-term goals.
What I’ve Learned So Far
Combining all of these things and taking the time to think about them, has pushed me to grow, refine and share my company’s message. This same lesson applies to everyone — if you own a business or if you work for a local government.
What is your message? Why are you doing what you’re doing? How are you sharing your purpose?  I encourage you to think about your message and if you have, take a second look and update it. Defining ourselves and the work we do is an ongoing process!
As I mentioned, I spent a fair amount of time developing a tagline. I’d like to know from you, “what are the taglines that you remember?” Tweet them to @WorkCitySmart and @ELGL50.

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