Business Lessons Learned in 2023

Talk about a year of learning! Hopefully, we all have opportunities to learn new things in both our personal and professional lives daily if not weekly. Over the past 12 months, I feel I’ve absorbed three times as many lessons than in years past. Blame it partially on the ever-increasing speed of technology, but I’ve also had a few light-bulb moments in areas such as new business development and personnel. 

As an owner of two small businesses – Breakaway PR and a Pure Barre studio (boutique fitness) – I get to double my learning load. There were plenty of transferable lessons while a few have been specific to each industry. 

In the spirit of keeping things short and sweet, here are a few of my learnings which I hope will resonate with you in your profession: 

Be Adaptable:

Public relations, as well as boutique fitness, is constantly evolving, influenced by changes in technology, media, and society. Being adaptable and staying abreast of industry trends is crucial. Whether it’s a new social media platform, competitive forces, a shift in workout trends, or changes in communication preferences, PR and all service professionals need to adapt their strategies to stay competitive. 

Be Authentic:

Honestly, this isn’t new, rather a lesson reinforced over the past 12 months. It’s the only way I know how to work and live, so it thrills me to the core when I see clients, partners, prospects or most anyone reward or appreciate this M.O. PR professionals can get a reputation as “all spin and minimal truth,” but that practice just does not work. Especially in today’s hyper-information-overload world. In PR and boutique fitness, we focus on building and maintaining authentic relationships with all stakeholders, from clients and coworkers to partners and media. 

Keep Up with AI:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fully mainstream and already impacting many workplace scenarios. At Breakaway, we’re trying to keep pace with AI integrations into platforms we often use such as Canva, Instagram, Meta, and more. We’ve seen it make research easier as well as social media content, yet requires an eagle eye for accuracy. Every PR pro I’ve spoken with has a different level of engagement and rules for implementation. Some have no guidelines (yet). The world of AI is still the Wild, Wild West until more guardrails and regulations are in place. PR professionals must stay informed and work to harness it for the benefit of their operations.

Hire Wisely

Another truth reinforced in 2023 for both of my businesses: hiring new talent takes diligence and patience along with a good gut read. Due to our size, I’ve never had, nor will have, an HR department. Both ventures have a small, trusted team of like-minded people who help me bring in good or great-fit employees. Culture fit is one of the most important elements at Breakaway PR and Pure Barre SW Austin. Skills can be taught. 

Data-Driven Decision-Making:

Lastly, the use of data analytics in PR continues to grow. We’re utilizing key tools such as Cision, Meta, MailChimp and more to provide the metrics most clients expect. PR professionals should leverage data to measure the impact of their campaigns, understand audience behavior, and make informed decisions. We still value word-of-mouth sentiment and the client’s general sense of shifts and improvements in awareness and reputation. Reliable data, however, has become a permanent part of the review and decision-making process.

To wrap, I also learned that I can successfully – not perfectly – run two businesses. It 110% requires a great team and has forced me to become more organized. Fortunately, I still love what I do after all of these years in PR, and after three years as a franchisee, I’m proud to be a part of Pure Barre Nation (my term, not theirs). Healthy body, healthy mind! Wishing you a new year full of health and happiness in 2024.