Dressed in Lily Pulitzer and amazing high heels, Diane Devaney opens up about how she started her Baltimore based Devany & Associates, Inc. advertising, marketing and public relations firm 25 years ago – and what entrepreneurs, business owners, marketing directors and women should be considering from a PR and marketing perspective to stand out and be successful today.
With major chutzpah and fierce courage, Diane left her job at an advertising agency to start her own business with the encouragement, help and support of one of her top clients. Diane walked away from the stability of a paycheck and became an entrepreneur overnight.
What fears and doubts were running through your mind as you started your business?
“I was not even married 1 year… I kept thinking, Oh my goodness, what if it doesn’t work out and I have to move in with my in-laws!”
Advice you would you give to women who are thinking about beginning their own businesses?
“Be prepared to work hard and do everything. Surround yourself with good people. Find great people to work with and work for. I have fired clients who were impossible to deal with. More business is not worth the toll and stress of a mean client. I fired a very large client several years back because he made people in my office cry.”
“Lead by example – never ask anyone to do something that you would not do yourself.”
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would it be?
“I am passionate about delivering results to clients. Whether the goal is increased brand identity or a strategic marketing and PR campaign, we do an amazing job helping our clients reach success. You can check out some of our featured work at: http://www.devaney.net/featured-work/. We have worked for many wonderful clients such as Evapo, Maryland Hospital Association and Route One Apparel.
My weakest link has always been my financial side. If I could go back in time, I would have brought in a stronger accounting person earlier. I also would have taken over business development sooner. As an owner, you know your business better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to share your story and the great work that you do. Companies need your help.”
How have you been able to find clients and bring in new business?
“A lot of our clients have come to us through a personal referral. Networking has also been key for my company’s growth and successes. I have worked really hard to find the best networking groups to be a part of. These are groups filled with influencers and decision makers. At the end of the day, you just go out there and meet new people. You learn what they do and people learn what you do. You help connect your friends and business associates to others.
I am always looking for ways to help others succeed. When I meet someone, I instantly think about what contacts I have that would be valuable to my new connection.”
You have 2 children, was work-life balance a challenge?
“We waited until the company was 6 years old to have children, so I was able to work all of the time and fully dedicate myself to Devaney & Associates. As any mother will tell you, however, your family always comes first. My in-laws have been a huge help over the years. I am very grateful and thankful that they were there when I could not be.”
Does your husband work with you at Devaney & Associates?
“I love my husband and he is very supportive… but we would kill each other.”
Yes, Diane said this with a completely straight face. J
What advice and business success secrets do you have to help businesses stay current and relevant in today’s environment?
- You must always be learning and reading articles.
- Participate in social media, especially LinkedIn. It will help you get noticed.
- Invest in trying new things.
- Direct Mail is the NEW BLACK! – the key, however, is getting your message across to a direct audience with least amount of waste. (We can help.)
- Focus your marketing initiatives more around the “WHY” not the “WHAT”
- Do not wait for a business partner or talk yourself out of going for it. You can do this.
To learn more about Diane Devaney and Devaney & Associates, http://www.devaney.net/
Thank you also for your help with setting up TheFemaleForce.com. I met Diane at a women’s networking group a few years ago. When I ran my Blog idea by Diane and asked if she would help me, Diane immediately agreed and helped me make this Blog site look great. I am so truly grateful. From me, beginning was the equivalent of handing a 90 year-old a smart phone. I had no idea what I was doing and made a complete mess out of my Blog layout. I am truly grateful for the help of Devaney & Associates.