Stay in your lane. That’s my advice to SMEs when trying to grow their business or find new revenue streams. The temptation to take on business for the sake of the income and improved cash flow is strong, but if the it means changing lanes and working outside of your target market, is it worth it? I was recently frustrated with myself because I needed to make the same mistake three times, before finally learning the lesson. I did what all smaller businesses often do, which is to ignore gut feel and chase the money. It’s hard not to in this climate, but the reality is that money doesn’t buy happiness nor job satisfaction and it is not always good for the greater business. My lane is start-ups and smaller businesses – basically anything that is not a corporate. I have paid my dues in the latter sector, spending many years working on the ICT sector’s biggest brands. While I am grateful for the experience and the lessons learnt, I would not go back there again. It is ironic that the SME sector seems to be hailed as the lifeblood of our economy, because corporates kill them without even batting an eye. There are agencies designed for this sector and particular brand of PR, knowing that I am not one of them is part of my strength. I have 28 years of very good industry experience and can add tremendous value to smaller businesses. These clients appreciate the input and direction, they don’t inhibit the PR nor tie it up in approvals and corporate ladder politics. I enjoy the partnership I form with my clients, it’s team work and brings with it learning and enjoyment. What I don’t want is a Goliath telling me how to structure my retainer, what to charge, what I will deliver and how the industry I have been in for decades should work. The level of ignorance and arrogance within certain corporates is astounding. A respect for how we manage the service we provide is totally lacking. It’s not fun nor is it fulfilling. Staying in your lane is a deliberate decision. If you want to run with the big dogs that is absolutely fine, then build a business and structure to support it. You may need to hire a man in a suit too, because, trust me, the misogyny exists. I am grateful for the lessons, even after all this time, it helps me centre myself and reminds me what I enjoy about being in PR. I value mutual respect, partnerships and enjoy building brands with like-minded people. I like to say that after all this time, I still love what I do. If I change lanes, this won’t be possible, so stay in your lane, be the best you can be and have fun while you are at it.