Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah Terez Rosenblum, a writer, creative consultant, and developmental editor based in Milwaukee, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My clients are writers and novice writers at all stages of life and career. Some of my clients are writing to process pivotal events, and most are writing to perfect their work and publish or continue to publish. They are working on novels, short stories, essays, memoirs—you name it. Whenever I work with a client, I am focused on their emotional experience, their creative development, and their craft.
Tell us about yourself
I am, first and foremost, a writer. My novel “Herself When She’s Missing” came out in 2012, and I’ve written for sites including Salon and Pop Matters and published fiction with places like The Normal School. After I got my MFA in creative writing, like most writers, I turned to teaching to support myself. For over a decade I have taught at Story Studio in Chicago Illinois where I was voted 2022 Teacher of the Year, and at The University of Chicago Writer’s Studio at the graham School where I was the 2022 winner of Innovation in Teaching Award. I found that even more than I enjoyed teaching creative writing in a classroom, I gravitated to working one-on-one with writers providing emotional support, creative accountability, and craft expertise. I love growing to understand an individual writer’s needs and strengths and helping them to address their weaknesses. Not only do I feel satisfied when I can connect with a writer over their goals, but I have also become a better writer myself by devoting extensive time and focus to analyzing other people’s texts and their processes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I feel accomplished when I am able to cater to my feedback and approach a client’s specific needs. It’s been satisfying to watch certain long-term clients come into their own as writers. I’ve had clients start out as novices and end up accepted to top creative writing MFA programs or landing agents to represent novels I saw start as idea kernels.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, the hardest thing is finding the balance between my personal and my professional life. When you work for yourself, there’s always something you could be doing. For years I worked days, evenings, and weekends and was hyper-responsive to client emails. Recently I’ve made a point to consider my own boundaries. Do I want to work on the weekend? What will happen if I respond to emails at a given time every day rather than whenever I receive one? By understanding what I want and need, I’ve been able to deliver my “product,” which is essentially myself, to my clients with no resentment. I have a set schedule now, which means that I don’t regularly meet with clients on weekends, and I also devote specific times of day to reading client work versus communicating with clients. As a result, I’m more productive, and because I’m aware of my own needs, I’m better at meeting my clients’ needs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Communication: Communicate clearly, consistently, and in a timely manner. Don’t leave yourself open to misinterpretation. Think before you speak or send an email.
- Empathy: Put yourself in your client’s (or customer’s) position. Try to understand who they are and what they need. Address their concerns and validate them. Yes, I work with writers, and writers are often deeply emotional, but even if you’re a contractor, you’re still going to get further, saying, “I understand how important it is to you to have a clear path from one end of your living room to another because your kids like to run races, let’s find another way to meet that need,” than you will saying, “That beam holds up the house, are you stupid?”
- Know yourself: If you have trouble sticking to a schedule, if you tend to tap out on projects early, or if you function better in a supporting role, running your own business may not be right for you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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