A few years ago, Jessica Oman noticed that a lot of businesses were making the wrong impression with mediocre writing in their business plans and marketing material. Having an MBA and bachelor degrees in English and education, she knew she could make a difference by helping entrepreneurs create compelling business documents and written content.
And with that, Write Ahead was born. The Vancouver-based business and writing consultancy has now been in operation for three years, and serves as the perfect venue for Jessica to blend her passions for business and the written word.
From writing web copy to hosting workshops to helping clients add verbal flair to their business documents, Jessica, her team help entrepreneurs translate their inspired ideas into winning words on paper.
On Starting and Success
While aspiring entrepreneurs can often get stuck at the idea stage, Jessica knew she had to put her business idea decisively into action to get it off the ground: “I really wanted to be my own boss and knew there would never be a ‘right’ time to do it, so I just did it.”
Learning on the fly, she started following the blogs of other successful entrepreneurs and also attended a Small Business BC seminar on consulting businesses. Attending the seminar both validated her business idea and helped her make a few early contacts for her business.
Before long, Write Ahead had a broad base of clients – everything from vegetarian restaurants to wedding planners – and those clients were getting results. “The companies we’ve worked with are getting media attention, selling amazing products and services, and making a big impact in their local communities, and we’re so proud to have had a small role in their development,” says Jessica.
And as her clients have succeeded in their businesses, so has Jessica. She has seen her revenue double every year since opening, and has also been able to expand her business’ offerings to include information products.
Learning Along the Way
One of Jessica’s biggest lessons along the way was to learn to trust her own skills and abilities to do her work. “At the beginning I lacked a lot of confidence – so I had trouble communicating the value of the work I was doing, and I underpriced myself. For that reason I left a lot on the table,” says Jessica. “But it’s okay – that’s the way I had to learn.”
In turn, she often sees that same lack of confidence in entrepreneurs she works with as clients, and also in some of the people she follows online who are just beginning to grow their businesses. She draws from her personal experience to help pump them up: “If that confidence is there, potential customers can really see it, and the entrepreneur will start to believe, too.”
So what’s next for Write Ahead? Jessica has some aggressive revenue goals, and she’s working on a licensing model for some of Write Ahead’s offerings (hopefully to be launched in 2014). Ultimately, she envisions her company becoming an industry leader: “I’d like Write Ahead to be known as a leading North American resource for people working to launch and grow their businesses.”
Secrets to Her Success
From the outset, Jessica has been willing to take chances to make her business work. “I have a pretty high risk tolerance,” says Jessica. “I’ll just try something to see if it works.”
But more than just a willingness to take risks, she also credits her business’ success with her strong orientation toward big picture thinking: “I don’t tend to get caught up in the latest marketing or PR tactics – I’m good at creating a strategy and then seeking the best tactics to support it.”
She also encourages aspiring business owners not to let a lack of capital stop them from beginning their own entrepreneurial journey, to trust their instincts, and to seek inspiration from those who go against the grain: “Lots of people told me I couldn’t make decent living off of writing, but they were wrong.”