Clarene Mitchell is the owner of TCM Communications, a communications firm in Mequon, WI dedicated to helping success driven professionals and business advance their brands. Much of her work focuses on helping others effectively use social media, especially LinkedIn, to generate professional and business results. Mitchell provides one-on-one social media coaching, facilitates workshops and speaks at events. She holds a B.A. in Interpersonal Communications from Cardinal Stritch University.
In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Clarene is an accomplished print journalist and public relations professional. For more than 20 years she has worked to craft the image of community-based organizations and advance issues of importance. She is respected in the community for her engaging presence and commitment to her work.
In September 2019, Clarene published her book “Shine Online With LinkedIn: LinkedIn Isn’t Just An Online Database Of Resumes.”
Where did the idea for TCM Communications come from?
The idea for TCM Communications came from me experiencing sudden unemployment and not being able to secure a job for almost a year. I started a consulting firm based on what I was good at, public relations and social media. My focus area is LinkedIn consulting.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have no typical days. This is one of the aspects of entrepreneurship that I like. No two days are the same. Even when I plan a day to go one way, it may change because I get a creative or business development idea that I have to pursue. Or it could change based on a phone call or email. I try to start my days by getting online and making a LinkedIn posts. I then make LinkedIn posts for clients who I provide content management services for. As I’m eating my breakfast, I review online platforms to get caught up on relevant information and engage with others on LinkedIn. The rest of my day may include me facilitating a LinkedIn training or providing one-on-one LinkedIn coaching to a client in-person or virtually. Depending on the day, I may have an introductory meeting at a coffee shop with someone I met on LinkedIn or it could be a day of doing cold-calling visits.
I make my days productive as much as possible by using content calendars for my social media postings. I’m still use a planner, so I detail my to-do lists in mine. Checking off completed items as I accomplish them helps me to see my progress and keeps me focused on remaining tasks. I rank the to-do by the most urgent, based on deadlines or financial value associated with tasks.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by equipping myself with whatever knowledge or resources I need to make the idea reality. I then put all of my efforts into it.
This is one aspect of entrepreneurship that makes it more appealing than having a traditional job. I now have the freedom to take my ideas and run with them instead of stifling them. When I was an employee, I always had to convince someone else about the value of my idea and hope they would allow me to do it. As an entrepreneur, I have total freedom to be as creative as I want and act on the ideas as immediately as I want to. No idea is wrong, because I learn lessons from those that don’t go well and relay on the learning for future decision making.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited that more people are starting to FINALLY see the relevance of LinkedIn. It has been in the shadows of Facebook and other social media sites for far too long. Corporations and celebrities are even seeing the value of the platform.
Unfortunately, many people see LinkedIn as just the platform for job seekers and recruiters, but it offers a world of opportunity for everyone.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of my habits that makes me more productive than other entrepreneurs is I consistently celebrate my wins. No matter how small of a celebration it is, I acknowledge my entrepreneurial victories. This may mean I take myself out to dinner, to the movies, buy a book I have been wanting, get new shoes, etc. Doing so helps me see I am making progress with my business and motivates me to do more.
I’m a very visual person. I like having things around me that inspire me. In my home office, I have stars on my closet door. On each star I have written a special business achievement. The first star celebrates me getting my first client. Others include speaking engagements, expos, etc. Just a quick glance at the door makes me smile, especially on days when I am doubting myself. This visual helps me state productive because it reminds me that to get the results I want I have to put the hard work in.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I could whisper in the ear of my younger self, I would tell me to not limit myself. Just because I didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my family doesn’t mean I couldn’t become one. Sometimes we limit ourselves because our immediate circle doesn’t include individuals who role model different careers or other options. Wanting to do something that no one in your family has done before isn’t necessarily a bad option. Traditional jobs are great for some, but they are not the best option for everyone. Perhaps I would have started my entrepreneurial journey sooner if the seed had been planted in my head when I was younger. When I look back over my professional career, I never stayed in positions long because I would feel limited creativity wise. Many of my jobs were positions that I was the first to have. I would be excited about them from the start and then quickly get bored once I got done putting everything in place. I would need a new challenge so I would seek another job to have something new to create all over again, and again and again. Perhaps the calling of being an entrepreneur was always in me, I just didn’t recognize it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Gen Xers can be good with social media. I have a social media based business that I started when I was 50+. It is assumed that millennials are experts with social media because they have grown up with it being a norm. Someone I was pitching my services to literally told me, “Oh we have a young person to do that.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur, I constantly try to learn more. Either by reading books, taking an in-person or online class. I highly recommend that other entrepreneurs make this a habit as well. The more I learn the better I am able to serve my clients.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that helped me grow my business was providing a LinkedIn training to a small cohort at a corporation. Afterwards the attendees became my advocates within the corporation. The buzz within meetings and through the halls of the corporation opened the door for me to provide additional trainings for the company.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Oh my, sharing this is risky. But I am a big believer in the importance of transparency. Very early in my entrepreneurial journey I was given an opportunity to be a featured speaker at an event for a major corporation. It was a sold out event and I totally blew it! Seriously! I spent too much of my time talking about my credentials and expertise instead of providing the attendees the knowledge they needed. I knew about half-way into the presentation that I was losing my audience but I didn’t know how to pivot with ease. Some people actually walked out. After everyone left, the host and I sat and had a candid conversation about the experience. I listened to her and took full blame for the event not going as it should have. We developed a plan to provide a no-cost offering to those who were interested.
This experience taught me the importance of operating in my expertise. People would much rather experience my expertise as opposed to me telling them. Because this occurred early in my business, I could have easily used it as proof that I should get a regular job. I could have hung my head in shame, figuratively, and not pursued other opportunities. Instead, I dusted myself off, held my head up high and pushed forward with my business. I knew that I may have lost the confidence of those who attended the event but there were countless other people who I could help.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have been searching to no avail for a store that specializes in social media themed novelty items and décor. It is extremely hard for me to find items I can give to clients as gifts or have as raffle prizes for my events. I’m looking forward to someone starting this kind of business so I can support them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 (approximately) I spent professionally was on a duffel bag. Having the bag makes my life so much easier when I have to transport my supplies for business events. Prior to securing the duffel bag, I would have items in multiple bags or boxes and have to make multiple trips to take the supplies in and out. Besides it adding to my efficiency, I also look more professional and my items always organized. The bag has wheels, which makes it really easy to transport all of my supplies. Now if I can only find a purple one just like the one I have, then I would really be happy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The one piece of web service that helps me be productive is Lucidpress. It’s a design & brand templating platform that allows me to quickly create graphics that I use to advance my professional and business online brands. I love it because it is very user-friendly. This allows me more time to do other things. If you Google #BrandingActivist and go to the Images tab you will see many of the images that I created using the platform. A lot of people love Canva, but once I discovered Lucidpress I was able to tremendously advance the quality of my graphics.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend the community read, “Shine Online with LinkedIn: LinkedIn Isn’t Just an Online Database of Resumes!”
I recommend this book not just because I’m the author, but more importantly because entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from using LinkedIn. Firstly, of the social media platforms, it is the one that was created specifically for professional and business purposes. Secondly, it allows you to advance your personal and business brands for free, so why not use it? Lastly, it’s a great way to source business leads and generate referrals.
My book is a reader-friendly guiding to understanding LinkedIn. It is a hybrid between a tech book and a novel. I use a story telling style and weave in the tech tips.
What is your favorite quote?
I love quotes, so I have many favorite ones. But the one that motivated me to start my business and I frequently think about is:
“Find a need and fill it. Successful businesses are founded on the needs of the people.”
- Entrepreneurship is all about having a service or product that others need and are willing to spend their money on.
- One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that there are few typical days. The unpredictably of the days helps to keep you from getting into a rut.
- Celebrating wins can help push you to accomplishing more!
- Don’t let isolated negative experiences stop you from moving forward with being an entrepreneur.
- Sometimes entrepreneurs wait on others to open doors for them. They do this without realizing they can gain the most opportunities by opening doors for themselves.