Meet Guildstreet’s feature small business: MLC Communications Inc.
As with many things in life, timing is never perfect. You can never predict how things will play out, or when you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith and dive in. And for Melanie Nicholson, founder of Melanie Lynn Communications (MLC) Inc., this was exactly how the MLC story began.
“MLC was a dream that sat ready in the wings for some time. Originally, I planned to start it as a side gig after starting a family, thinking MLC was going to be a little extra income and a way to stay connected to the industry.” Melanie recalls. “Then in 2016, I was laid off and realized the time to act was now.”
Eight days later, her business was registered, her website was launched and she hit the ground running.
Fast forward to 2020 and MLC has expanded beyond a “company of one” to a boutique public relations company with a small team that supports a range of clients with public relations and communications solutions. From strategic planning to content development and crisis communications, everything is designed to help clients share the right stories with the right people. And as you can imagine, there hasn’t been a dull moment.
The entrepreneur roller-coaster
The entrepreneur lifestyle doesn’t work for everyone. It comes with a whole different level of challenges that you don’t even realize exist until you leave the comfort and safety of a regular corporate job. It also delivers some incredible success stories and confidence boosters along the way. Ups and downs — that’s the entrepreneur way.
We asked Melanie to share some of her more memorable challenges and successes from the last 4 years.
- Smart, strategic growth. Finding a way to scale her business up in a way that worked best wasn’t just a matter of hiring staff. It involved a lot of discussions with accountants, colleagues and my better half to determine the approach that best-suited me. It’s also about recognizing you’ll wear yourself thin trying to do it all. Finding a team to support your operations — accounting, bookkeeping, IT, graphic design — you name it! — so you can focus on selling your services is well worth the investment.
- Patience. Absolutely nothing happens at a perfect pace. You’re either running off your feet or you’re in a panic because prospects aren’t getting back to you and next month is looking lean. Once I wrapped my head around that concept, the stress went away and I began to really enjoy the ride.
- Education. Helping clients learn, grow and understand business takes significantly more time than initially thought. Coming from a large communications department, there was a clear understanding of what we did and how everything worked. As a consultant, it was a huge reality check realizing how much time needs to be spent educating clients about the ‘why’ so they have a better understanding of what we do.
- Finding my niche. At a previous job, I had expressed interest in other areas but it never came together. At the helm of MLC, I now had the chance to step up into the role I really wanted — a leader, a project manager, an educator. It was a natural step and one I have been proud to make.
- Building my team. Entrepreneur life can feel very isolating if you let it. But even if you’re a solopreneur, it doesn’t mean you have to sit in your basement office and not connect with people! Having a team also means you have someone to chat with through a challenging project or simply to help cover off holidays! MLC started as a one-person operation; however, now I can’t even imagine going back to that format. Bringing in support helped me elevate MLC to a level I couldn’t have imagined.
- Expanding our services. With an expanded team, often means you have an expanded skill set. Bringing someone to the table who complements what you do, eliminates redundancies and elevates what can be offered to clients. It’s a win-win.
A view on 2020
For Melanie, 2020 is the year to take it all in and to elevate. She is a firm believer in starting with a strong foundation — both in business and communications — and then building from there. She’s spent the last few years powering through the challenges and successes to establish a foundation she is proud of. Now it’s time to take it up a notch, expand her client base, enhance the look and feel of some products and build up our reputation both in Calgary and beyond. After all, “there cannot be ups in a roller coaster ride unless there are downs.” – Siddharth Katragadda