What's the story behind your entrepreneurship journey?
My entrepreneurial journey essentially began in college, where I majored in public relations. After graduating, I spent about 17 years working in PR for several different companies. Throughout my career, I knew that I wanted to work for myself one day, but it was only recently in my career that I fully embraced my dream to start my own agency, which I officially launched in March 2021.
What kind of public relations work does your agency do?
At Wilson PR, we primarily focus on three types of strategic communications: earned media (media outreach/media relations and community relations), owned media (content marketing and thought leadership/ghostwriting), and shared media (primarily social media and other content development).
Who is your ideal client?
I’m passionate about helping people who want their stories to be heard – people who have a passion but need help honing that passion into a specific message.
I particularly love working with customers who struggle with maintaining brand awareness, or who are building an audience from scratch. My team and I help our clients figure out who and where their customers are and deliver a message that resonates with what those customers want.
What led you to CO.STARTERS?
Through my time in Memphis’ professional community, I learned about Epicenter Memphis, an organization that supports local entrepreneurs and offers the CO.STARTERS Core program. A few friends had participated in CO.STARTERS cohorts and strongly recommended it for gaining a good footing in the early stage entrepreneurial process. When I started planning my own agency, I took their advice and signed up.
"I’m passionate about helping people who want their stories to be heard – people who have a passion but need help honing that passion into a specific message. My team and I help our clients figure out who and where their customers are and deliver a message that resonates with what those customers want. "
- Beth Wilson, Wilson PR
What were the biggest benefits you took from CO.STARTERS?
My favorite aspects of the program were the elevator pitch practice and the sections covering financial issues like profit and loss statements, which became really helpful in cementing my plan for launching Wilson PR.
Another huge benefit of CO.STARTERS was that I could draw on the advice of mentors at Epicenter Memphis, especially when it came to shaping my business plan and outlining financials. I wasn’t sure whether or not I needed to seek out investors or open a line of credit. As a new entrepreneur, I simply assumed that I needed money beyond what I had personally saved.
The team at Epicenter helped me work through that, and we ultimately decided that I had already built up the capital I needed. Without them, I might have easily become over-dependent on investors or credit that I didn’t need at the time.
How have CO.STARTERS and Epicenter Memphis shaped your place within the Memphis business community?
There’s a mutual trust and respect between the Epicenter team and me. I can always go back to them for help and advice, and they can send other new business owners to me with confidence that I can help them.
I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know other local business owners through the program and Epicenter’s wider network. Getting involved with a unique and insightful group of entrepreneurs provided me with a true community in addition to valuable insight from people who were going through the same process as I was.
It’s been amazing to give back to the Memphis business community, either through speaking engagements at local events or a mentorship program at the University of Memphis. Epicenter provided me with these opportunities after graduating from their CO.STARTERS program, and it’s been a rewarding way to give back to the community that supports me.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs who are in the shoes you were in last year?
Lots of new entrepreneurs assume they need to raise money for their business up front. But that’s not always the case. Figure out whether you actually need investors or loans. You might need those things, but you might already have enough capital to be financially independent. Either way, figure out how much you need to start, and try to anticipate how the first 2-3 years might look financially before you’re in the thick of running your business.
You should also decide how much of the business you want to be directly involved in. Maybe you want to be involved in everything. But outsourcing some of that work to a contractor or hiring an employee to manage parts of the business could be a wiser move. Determining that earlier on will allow you to execute your vision and pursue your passion more quickly.