It used to be that starting a political consulting firm was done with a spit and a hand shake. Not anymore. This is a billion dollar industry and the stakes are high. In this age of rapid expansion, the ebb and flow of companies dissolving, new startups and moving from a solo venture to a partnership is common.
These riveting insights and experiences from top industry experts, Liz Chadderdon (Chadderdon Lestingi Creative Strategies), and Moises Merino (Merino, Barajas & Allen) are a must-read if you’re a new business owner or considering a new venture. In addition to the summary, login to watch the full webinar recording!
1. The hardest part of starting your own firm is understanding where to put your money.
2. Make sure to have a legal separation between you and your company, particularly so that you don’t get sued for personal property. For this reason you should create a corporation rather than a sole proprietorship.
3. LLC offers less legal protection than an S-Corp or C-Corp, but it does offer more flexibility.
4. Make sure to have a formal partnership agreement when attaining a partner.
5. Get creative about how to keep your overhead low. You must be aware of when you’ll have heavy cash flow and when you will have less.
6. When you hire people, ask yourself if they will bring in connections or if they will help free your time up to bring in clients. Either way, attain new talent who shares the common goal of continually bringing in new opportunities.
7. Find a small time lawyer, or someone that actually understands the political consulting community rather than an expensive attorney.
8. Always ask for help!
9. Put every candidate you work with under contract and make sure to refresh the language of your contracts every now and then.
About Liz: Liz, a native Texan, is often described as one of the smartest, straight-shooting Democrats in the business. A direct mail consultant since 1999, Liz has created messaging, strategy and persuasion direct mail for presidential, congressional, legislative and municipal races in 42 states. In 2007, she became the first woman to start her own Democratic direct mail firm without a business partner. She recently established a new firm, Chadderdon Lestingi Creative Strategies with business partner, Joe Lestingi.
1. Before you start your own firm, talk to other people about their experiences and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Having a business is a massive responsibility.
2. Develop your own personal skills—you’ll need to be experienced at sales, public speaking, and engaging with people.
3. People will want to do business with you based on how they interpret your strengths. Be confident and put your best on display.
4. You need more than just an idea to start a business—you need a practical business plan.
5. Think about the sustainability of your business. You’ll have to be able to provide services during on and off times.
6. Trust has to be the most important aspect of a business partnership.
7. Marketing is so important for you and for your business. Utilize social media whenever possible. It’s necessary to include marketing in your budget.
About Moises: Moises Merino is a founding Partner at Merino, Barajas & Allen, a public affairs and political consulting firm. He has over 15 years of political and public policy experience at the local, state and national levels. Moises is one of the premier experts on the subject of the Latino vote. His methodological approach to messaging is a key component to gaining support for public policy initiatives. Moises’s strategic planning incorporates cultural and cross-cultural ideologies and values that help shape public opinion.
Moderator: Meghan Cox
About Meghan: Meghan Cox has been with Lincoln Strategy Group since inception, where she oversees the firm’s large scale national grassroots campaigns for both political and corporate clients that require intense logistical planning and management. Lincoln Strategy Group is a full service political strategy and public affairs management firm that knows how to shape your message, sway opinion, and motivate voters. Meghan designs, implements and activates strategic initiatives for her clients. Meghan has managed campaigns, ballot access efforts and projects in over 47 states as well as the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
A huge thank you goes out to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!