[quote style=”boxed”]Being organized with all the information and materials ready – never making anyone work for anything.[/quote]
Award winning author of 5 published books Lillian Brummet produces and hosts the Conscious Discussions talk radio show, and manages the Brummet’s Conscious Blog in partnership with her husband and business partner – Dave Brummet. In those few stolen moments when she is not in the office she can be found spending time with her husband gardening, indulging in nature, camping and walking the many trails in BC’s (Canada) wilderness. The main focus of everything the Brummets do, whether in their personal life or in business, is to inspire hope in individuals – helping them realize the value of their efforts and encouraging them to become more positive, proactive in life.
Where did the idea for Brummet Media Group come from?
Brummet Media Group evolved over the last 20 years to where it is now starting in the mid ‘90’s with Dave’s (a musician) interest in taking his talent for repairing and tuning percussion instruments to another level. Later this evolved to also providing drum lessons and group hand drum workshops. We went through some trial and error here deciding what direction we wanted to take this from schools to music stores to individuals… and we had a lot of life interruptions in between. After relocating to the Boundary region we decided to take this paying hobby to the level of small business with me as Dave’s assistant and office manager. By ’99 I had become a professional writer and was working in the realm of freelance, syndicated columnist and also staff writer for a local publication. By 2004 we had published our first book, and now of course have the 5 books out, host the radio show (goes live 3 X/week) and the daily blog. When we relocated once again, but this time to our dream location (the Kootenay region of BC, Canada), in 2010 we had to totally revamp the whole business – we created everything from scratch all over again; a new name, website, promotion materials, editions of our books, and services… everything was updated and was give a fresh new design. We developed a new marketing plan, business plan, contingency plan (in case one or both of us were not able to run the business), and also a flexibility plan that housed ideas to consider for the future. It has been an interesting journey for us. Life changes and challenges taught us many things, including the importance of contingency and estate planning, having a power of attorney set up, and a flexible business and marketing plan.
What does your typical day look like?
I deal with up to 70 emails a day (not including spam) – these are typically media who are interested in featuring one of us, or queries from others who want to be on our radio show, as well as communications from listeners of our radio show, readers of our blog and the general public who have comments, questions or ideas they want to propose to us. I also spend up to 15 hours a week managing just the radio show because it airs 3 times a week and there is a lot of behind the scenes activities from researching the guests, designing show outlines, scheduling to edits and promotions. The blog takes up substantially less time, only about 2-3 hours a week to write, promote and keep an eye on analytics, etc. The rest of the time I am either doing the behind the scenes set up for future media appearances, writing product reviews, or working on the upcoming book manuscripts (there are 3 manuscripts in the works). When there are slow periods I’ll double check our records, do any f ollow ups required, touch up the income tax folders if needed, and send out queries to members of the media or search out new networking contacts. There’s a good 45-50 hours a week here in the office for me, and I often wish there were more hours to work with. Exhaustion can consume a self-employed, self-marketing entrepreneur though so it is important to know when enough is enough and to take care of yourself so you have more energy the next day. My dogs help me with this actually, they demand bathroom breaks and play time and their daily walks (or 2 if I have time) – this gets me out of the office and I take breaks that I probably wouldn’t otherwise.
How do you bring ideas to life?
One step at a time, (she laughs). In all honesty that is exactly how it is done. I’m big on creating plans – deciding on the goal is one thing, setting priorities so that you can work towards that goal, defining steps to get you there and then having the self-discipline to actually do each step. My problem is that I often think I can do more than is possible, and then have to set a new time line for each goal. Dave and I really support and cheerlead each other, and also have enough experience to understand that life happens, delays happen – so we try to be conscious of that too when it comes to our expectations for each other.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am awed by all the information now available on sites like YouTube and a myriad of talk radio or podcasts where a person can find information on any single task they are having troubles with or are not familiar with. It is fantastic really – a free online university. If people are willing to put the time in to learn, they can save a lot of money and avoid common pitfalls too.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I feel that entrepreneurs need 3 key strengths – tenacity, discipline, and organization. I’m tenacious – I have the ability to just stick with something even when I’m not seeing immediate tangible results. I’m self-disciplined; I don’t need someone telling me what needs to be done. I’m also very organized; I keep records of the activities, make lists of things to do… that kind of thing.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Waitressing. You have to be a certain kind of person to pull off waitressing well, it looks easy but it isn’t. I didn’t mind the work itself, but at the time I was terribly shy and so approaching a table was excruciating to me. I am not a girlie-girl – I wasn’t comfortable dressing up, wearing make-up and pretending to be something I wasn’t. I definitely learned that I was going to have to develop people skills in order to advance in life.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have a contingency plan in place – we didn’t have one of these until the last 6 years or so. This is kind of part of the estate planning in a way – you are making plans for illness or injury that takes you away from running the business and also for passing the business or royalties etc. on should you pass away. This also involves having the information and passwords, etc. that person will need to run the business. If you don’t have this in place then you, the owner, risk losing the business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep really good records and use color-coding in the Excel file (or whatever program you are using) so that at a glance you can see where you are at with that contact. Your records tell you when you originally made contact, who your connection is and the position they hold, as well as what was said last. This is really vital information for more effective networking and marketing in particular. Using color codes you can see at a glance who needs a follow up at the end of the month. It might seem like this would take more time then it is worth, but in the end you save a heck of a lot of time, appear more professional, others find you easier to work with, and you efforts become more efficient and effective.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Being organized with all the information and materials ready – never making anyone work for anything. To do this you have to have some time to put together your packages, draft emails, etc. You also have to be willing to do some background checks, research on the contact or market you are trying to reach so you will have a better idea as to what would make them more willing to work with you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am not alone in having a limited marketing budget, and have to develop strict priorities as to how and where the money will be spent. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error in discovering what is most effective for your unique situation. But most important it has forced me to become more creative in focusing on finding free and frugal ways of getting known. I’ve done this in a variety of ways including earned media (providing free content for publications) and radio/blog interviews (like this one).
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m addicted to coffee – I just love a good strong cuppa… but restrict myself to only 3 cups a day. I love to bake when the mood strikes, but don’t really like to eat deserts – though I could survive on fresh baked bread, I think. I’m not a huge fan of meat, but I do eat small portions of it – and I really do like isolation, some people go crazy with silence and being alone for long periods, but I love it.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I use Excel for record keeping, Word for most other things, Ical to manage the schedule, and Gmail for emails. Dave has us with BlueHost.com; they are wonderful hosts of our site and have an exceptional help center. I use BlogSpot.com for my daily blog – their program is very easy to use and while they do have templates available for the novice, you can also create a unique blog if you know how. BlogTalkRadio.com is the station I’ve chosen for my radio show; I enjoy the flexibility I have there, the tools they provide and they have a wonderful help center and help chat room for their radio hosts.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
At the risk of sounding shameless in promoting my work – I think one of the best books out there for small business is our Purple Snowflake Marketing book. It contains knowledge gained from several management courses, running several businesses prior to this one, and over 13 years experience of being a writer. This is written mainly with writers in mind, but really anyone with a product or service would benefit from this book. You’ll find everything from business plan basics to obtaining reviews, networking and marketing tips, working with the media, different promotional materials, and more.
Well-read business books on my own shelf include:
One Minute Manager: Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
Accelerate High Level Leadership: Suzanne & Dwight Frindt
Win Friends and Influence People: Dale Carnegie
Law of Success: Napoleon Hill
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
There are so many that it is hard to pick just one person, especially when I think of the guests we have on our radio show alone – they have all enlightened me on one topic or another. Of those who I look up to – those that awe me with their impact on the world: David Suzuki, Henry Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Albert Schweitzr, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai.
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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.