When Janna Meyrowitz Turner graduated from college, she ditched the field of journalism to pursue a career in public relations. The decision came after a handful of undergraduate internship experiences made it obvious that the industry was in dire need of an overhaul. So, in 2006, she launched Style House, a strategic communications and business development consultancy.
“I had worked at PR agencies and built what I saw was the future of PR,” Turner told HeyMama. For the Brooklyn-based founder, this meant supporting clients in ways that traditional PR agencies did not.
Fast forward 13 years later, and Turner— now a mother to her five-year-old son, Harley — can’t help but applaud her younger-self for making the bold decision to change her career trajectory and start her own business.
“I started my company at 23 and I was grateful that I was able to build a flexible work-life for myself,” she said. “By the time I became a mom I had built a great reputation … and a strong pipeline of business.”
The entrepreneur, advisor, and angel investor (full disclosure: she’s an early backer of HeyMama) said Style House has distinguished itself over the years by being less focused on chasing various media placements, and more interested in what has become the company’s mantra: Be so great they can’t ignore you.
“All business problems can be solved by communications and positioning,” she explained. Her small but focused team works closely with founders and CEOs to help them operate with their best views forward. Her approach has won over established and emerging clients, most of whom are female-forward brands. This includes the WNBA and Nuria Beauty, an entirely woman-owned, eco-friendly vegan skincare brand that donates a portion of their profits to funding girls’ education.
But long before her client list reached the double digits, she admitted Style House ran as a “low tech” upstart. She was tracking monthly expenses in a makeshift spreadsheet; and when it came to invoices, she relied on a basic word document template, which she’d file via good ole email. But as her business grew, her system needed an update.
“When we were starting to have longer annual retainer agreements, that’s when I realized I need to forecast and plan,” Turner said. She adds that being low on tech-savvy while having too much heart in the game can be a dangerous combo, financially.
“I tend to lead with my heart and that was challenging for me when I first started my business,” she explained. That’s why just a year into launching, she integrated her entire company’s finances with QuickBooks in 2007. With the accounting software, she’s able to not only track and send custom invoices, she’s able to track her credit card spending and profit-and-loss statements all on one platform. “It empowered me to better budget and analyze the past while planning for future in deliberate ways.”
While launching Style House provided her with a crash course in bookkeeping, Turner explained that media and communications strategy remain the bread and butter of her expertise. Here, she lists her Dos and Absolute Don’ts of PR and business ownership in general:
1) Do not do it alone.
“If we keep perpetuating the narrative that we’re doing it and achieving it all alone, that can be dangerous and lead to burnout. You need good advisors and we need new perspectives on ourselves to become our best.”
2) Do not assume reporters and readers will be interested in your product.
No matter how innovative or philanthropic it is. Instead, start with identifying and synthesizing your company’s “North Star.” The larger your organization, the more you need a cohesive narrative around your company’s mission.
3) Do not grow for growth’s sake.
Depending on her project count, she can have anywhere between two to seven employees or contractors working for Style House. “I have an intentionally small team. When I have too many employees, I’m not functioning at my best because I’m more of a spiritual leader than an organizational manager.”
4) Do know when to hire a good accountant.
While QuickBooks helps business owners manage their day-to-day financials, you may also need the help of a professional accountant to see the big picture. “I have dozens of clients and a few employees but no CFO on payroll. That’s why I need to give a shout out to my accountant Becky Egan in New York City. It was through working with her that I grew to understand and appreciate all of QuickBooks tools, especially when it comes to categorizing expenses and see where the business money is going. Through QuickBooks I’m able to determine my minimum fixed costs to run the business. To be able to look at that in a concrete way helps me inform my business decisions—like how much to quote a client, how to budget and what I can offer employees or contractors.”
5) Do focus on channeling empathy.
Everything is a partnership, so when you start pitching yourself to the media, think about how you and the reporter or editor will utilize the art of storytelling as a team. That starts with thinking about what’s interesting and important to a reporter during an editorial meeting and listing the information they need to relay to their editor.
6) Don’t chase work-life balance.
Think about work-life integration instead. “My business and life have always been integrated. Everything is working together. When I say bye to Harley each morning, I tell him ‘Everything I do is to make a better place for you.’ That keeps me honest in what I do and it’s important for me to communicate that to my son.”
This article is sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks, the leading accounting software for small businesses around the world. With 4.5M subscribers worldwide, QuickBooks empowers self-employed individuals and small businesses to improve their financial lives, finding them more money with the least amount of work, while giving them complete confidence in their actions and decisions.