[quote style=”boxed”]Write down everything. Not only does it help you keep track of your thoughts, it makes them more solid and intentional.[/quote]
Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Khaleelah Jones grew up surrounded by successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, including her inspirational father, who greatly influenced her career path. In 2007 she started Something with Words out of her college dorm room when she realized she would soon be studying abroad and wanted to start saving for the trip. What started as online article assignments for two content companies soon mushroomed into a small collection of clients asking for ghostwriting and marketing copy services. Over the past five years, Khaleelah has grown Something with Words to a boutique digital marketing and PR agency with clients in the UK, US, Australia, Singapore and more. Some past clients include IBM, the Franklin Mint, the Telegraph Selected, Project Bully Free Zone and Stretch Guru. When she’s not working, Khaleelah can be traveling, yoga-ing, writing, making up verbs and obsessing over anything Francophone.
What are you working on right now?
I work with several small businesses and non-profits to improve their digital presence and media opportunities.
Where did the idea for Something with Words come from?
It was a slow evolution, starting with just me writing online articles for “content farm” websites and expanding over the years to a full-service digital media agency. I think the idea really started when I found my first client, which happened to be a pretty big one, and I realized during my pitch that my skill set was a little bigger than simply creating content. From there, I’ve refined my focus and skills to grow with the changing times.
How do you make money?
We charge small businesses and non-profits a fee to provide them with marketing and advertising services
What does your typical day look like?
Each morning I make a list of action items for the day, based upon a month-long editorial calendar I create at the end of each month for the following one. After my action items, I spend the afternoon in meetings or following up with new prospects/submitting proposals. Some days I also go to the offices of specific clients to work with them in person, but that’s not too, too often.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Like Nike, I just do it. If I have an idea, I write it down on a post it and stick to a surface in my bedroom or closet to “set it in stone” and then start creating an intentional plan of action.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
OK I’m going to sound like a total girl (and completely anti-writing, which is hilarious, because I’m a writer before anything else) but PINTEREST. I think Pinterest is a great opportunity for companies to reach out to people who don’t spend time reading copy and really opens up the door for creative expression and innovation, especially if you aren’t a company that deals with aesthetic products.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I have been really fortunate with jobs, I would never say any job was completely horrible, just not fulfilling. I have learned from working unfulfilling jobs that I should always do something I feel 100% committed to and believe in fully.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
See question 7- I wouldn’t stay so long in an unfulfilling job because I was afraid of failing at my own business or asking for help
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Write down everything. Not only does it help you keep track of your thoughts, it makes them more solid and intentional.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I didn’t think the legal side of things- contracts, business structure, etc., was too important for a long time. Then, I had a client who didn’t pay and, lo and behold, without a contract, it was difficult to enforce. Now I always make sure to cross all my t’s and dot all my I’s.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Why not start a digital service agency that focuses specifically on non-profits, helping them get their message out there and raise funds within the digital space- it’s cheaper than the marketing campaigns most run on TV or print now, and the possibility for readership is MUCH higher.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would try to make it so everyone feels as fulfilled and completed at work as I do- I can’t begin to tell you how many people I hear complaining about their jobs everywhere- on the subway, at restaurants, even within my own group of friends when we’re out and about. I really think the world would be a much happier place if everyone felt deeply fulfilled and inspired by their work.
Tell us a secret.
I rarely sleep more than 6 hours a day- I once read Bill Clinton did that and ever since, I’ve found that a compelling step to success. I hope that’s a secret and I don’t look too crazy/tired every morning!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1. Google Calendar- I couldn’t live without it.
2. Listography- great for making lists and making them intentional.
3. WordPress is pure magic, so great for people who are just starting off online
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts- may sound completely random as this is not a book about entrepreneurs and business, but it IS a book about how you can overcome anything- literally, anything- and the beauty and promise of the world.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
1. INC.com- great news for entrepreneurs
2. Harvard Business Review- a great jumble of info and you can ALWAYS find something pertinent to your interests/goals/skills
3. Erin Gloria Ryan, just for a big ol’ belly laugh
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This morning when a very old friend texted me about a high school shenanigan memory. I love my friends and surround myself with them- they are the best insulation when the going gets tough!
Who is your hero, and why?
Sounds lame, but my Mom. She’s overcome so much and is still smiling!
How did you know it was time to take the leap and work for yourself?
I didn’t. I was so scared. But I found this card at Whole Foods, it said, “Leap and the net will appear.” And that was that. I decided I had to leap, and failure was not an option. I truly believe having a mindset like that gets creative juices flowing and you find ways to thrive no matter what.
Do you think you have a good work/life balance?
To be honest, I do feel like I’m always working. As an entrepreneur, it’s not like you can leave the office at 5 and not think about work until the next day. You do have to be “on” all the time. That being said, if you do what you love, which I am fortunate enough to do, it doesn’t feel like work so much as living a life that makes me feel great.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.