Writing the Fempreneur column gives me the opportunity to speak with many inspiring women. Recently, I spoke with a prime example — Julia Labaton, president of RED PR. I was struck by not only her transition from PR employee to business owner but her inclination to mentor and foster growth amongst her team. Mentoring is not always a prime strategy for female entrepreneurs, but for Labaton, it has been a key to her success.
“Simply put, mentoring creates a motivated and dedicated staff that performs at a higher level to the benefit of clients. Happy clients stay longer, contributing to increased stability and revenues. In turn, this creates a new momentum that builds a positive work environment and strong agency culture,” says Labaton.
Having recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of her beauty, fashion, and lifestyle PR firm, Labaton discussed with us its creation and how she led it to success.
Before founding RED PR, Labaton gained experience at a variety of different media and communication companies. Working at PR firms, news organizations, and magazines, she held positions at Lippe Taylor Communications, Shop PR, Hill & Knowlton, Vogue Magazine, and CBS News.
At 29, with client successes and a strong network of relationships, she had a unique opportunity to start a business when her previous employer suddenly closed its doors.
She found herself at a crossroads and it was time for a decision–to take the “safe” route and find another job, or to chase the goal to start her own PR company.
It was a daunting leap. In college, Labaton’s stepmother planted the seed by saying she had always pictured Labaton owning her own business. With a client following, she challenged the fears that could’ve stood in her way and paved the road to a successful company.
Below are six lessons Labaton shared as she celebrates 15 years as the President of RED PR.
1) Create a mentor network.
“My time at Mount Holyoke, an all women’s college, fostered the confidence to do what I’m doing. It was a powerful and eye-opening experience–being in an environment that focused on women’s accomplishments and having role models constantly tell you that ‘of course you can.’ It conditions you to know your worth and value in different ways.
On collaboration: “Find mentors you respect and trust. Create a network of advisors who you can be honest with and who are honest with you.”
2) Teamwork makes the dream work
“It may sound cliché, but teamwork makes the dream work. A successful business is not just about your skills. Remember to take your ego out of it. Know what you do well, and curate an awesome team that inspires, learns from, and respects each other. You shouldn’t just hire a second you; hiring people with differing skill sets can help expand your business. Hire people who are smarter than you, people you can learn from and will stretch your vision.”
3) Never stop learning
“Don’t get stuck doing things one way because it’s what you’re used to. Push yourself to better your skills. It’s important to stay on top of your industry and to keep up with new technology, stay informed, read–even outside of your own industry. Ideas and inspiration come from everywhere.”
Labaton recommends reading The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, which provides valuable insights for potential and existing entrepreneurs, like pitfalls to avoid and how to maximize your potential to run a successful company.
4) Remember why you started
“There will be hard times when you have doubt, where you wonder if you did the right thing starting a business. Step back, remember the things you appreciate about your business and working for yourself, and why you started it in the first place.”
5) Pay it forward
“Remember the introductions that helped you? Pay it forward and be the connector for others. Foster growth for your team, and be a mentor and a coach.”
6) Downtime is essential
On being her own boss: “There is both more freedom, and more pressure. It’s easy for work to take over your personal life. You have to make time for relationships, to recharge, and clear your mind.”
Labaton is the definition of a Fempreneur. She has won a variety of PR awards over the years, including the PRSA Big Apple, SABRE, ABBIE, and Bulldog Reporter Awards. This year, she made the PR News ‘Top Women in PR’ List and the company won a Hermes Creative Award for Morgan Taylor Lacquer’s program at New York Fashion Week. Learn more about her company at red-pr.com.