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Kat Jones : Must-Have Skills for Entrepreneurs in 2024

Kat Jones is the Founder of Motiv PR. Today, she shares her tips on the must-have skills for entrepreneurs in 2024.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into entrepreneurship?

I’ve worked across PR, marketing and promotions for the last roughly 20 years, focusing primarily on digital media, video games, content creators, geek, nerd and fandom brands, technology and transmedia. I dove right into my career fresh out of college – wide eyed and bushy-tailed – and ready to take on anything that came my way. Having graduated with a degree in communications, I had a pretty clear sense of what I wanted to do, and made it a point during the early part of my career to continue to thoughtfully express to those around me what areas I wanted to focus on. That was such an important element of my growth – oftentimes people don’t vocalize what they want to their bosses or people in power and just expect to grow in their career because that’s “what’s supposed to happen” – but it’s rarely ever that way. You have to grab the bull by the horns and express on a regular basis where your passions lie and what you want to do – what projects you’d like to work on, what sparks your creative interests, and more. That was pivotal and set me on the path that would eventually lead to me starting Motiv PR.

That said, I had never seen myself as an “entrepreneur.” I was very comfortable with the security and stability that a 9-5 provided, and I enjoyed the roles I had in the 15 years leading up to Motiv. But something shifted in me in the beginning of 2018. It was pretty sudden and seemingly overnight – I was driving in LA and saw a billboard and my brain immediately started racing on all the PR ideas I would have for that movie, and then it hit me: I could do this on my own, and for multiple companies. It was then and there that I started laying the groundwork for what would eventually become Motiv PR. It definitely wasn’t an immediate leap – it was a carefully thought out and crafted approach, including messaging development, mapping out what Motiv stood for and what I wanted to focus on, creating a list of ideal clients, then eventually moving to building a website, setting up social pages, creating an S-Corp, and more. Once everything was in place, I took the leap, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made (aside from marrying my very supportive husband).

What are the top three skills you think are crucial for entrepreneurs today?

There are a handful of skills that come to mind, but if I had to focus on three, I’d say:

1) Be flexible, agile and extremely open to feedback. Especially in this day and age where everything is evolving and changing at rapid speed, you have to be able to pivot and bend when and where necessary without hesitation. On the heels of that, you need to not only be open to constructive feedback, but often seek it out and welcome it with open arms. You don’t know what you don’t know, and even if you think you know, you should always be open to other ideas and perspectives; who knows, they might give you that “ah-ha” moment you wouldn't have had otherwise.

2) Be very good to those around. Be nice and thoughtful. You’d think this was obvious, but I can’t tell you how many bulldogs I’ve had to work with that just make the entire experience terrible. They could be extremely skilled at their jobs, but create unnecessarily high tension and difficulty, and it makes any of their skills almost null and void. To truly succeed, I believe you should work well with others, inspire your team, and make people want to work with you. In addition, I hate to say it, but quality relationships often lead to opportunities, so cultivating positive work relationships is not only good for the soul, but it could lead to further growth for you and your company. Sure, there are outliers, but even though they might be successful, they still leave behind a pretty negative legacy.

3) Do your homework, be curious and learn as much as you can. Instead of immediately jumping to asking questions, do the digging yourself and try to come up with the answers. Pick as many brains as possible, and learn as many things as you can – both in and outside of your industry.

How do you think the role of technology has impacted these skills in recent years?

In short: GREATLY, especially for the first skill, but definitely for all of them.

Technology is rapidly changing everything, so making sure you and your team are flexible and agile is extremely important.

Being good to people is a necessity with or without technology, but given how active everyone is on social media these days, and how quickly those conversations can go south, it’s important to ensure that your day to day interactions - both in person and online - are kind. One thing I tell people is - “Dance like nobody's watching, write an email like it will be read aloud in a deposition one day.”

Luckily, technology lends itself greatly to the third skill, since technology allows us to access anything and everything at the touch of a keyboard. USE IT! Dive deep into credible resources online, sign up for quality newsletters, follow credible journalists or writers in your field, and more. Staying tapped into the online ecosystem of your industry is the best way to stay ahead of the curve and up-to-date.

Could you share a story with us about how you used some of these skills to overcome a challenge in your journey?

For better or worse, I have dealt with many crisis communications situations over the years, and as challenging and sometimes personal as they can get, I’ve learned to have an extremely level and practical head throughout scenarios like that, leading with transparency, kindness, and patience above all else. It does absolutely nobody any good to freak out or get upset over a situation, especially when there’s work to be done. Even though it’s fine for those around me – especially my clients and those whose lives are being directly impacted by the situation – it’s my job to stay focused and clear headed with the task at hand, looking at all sides of the situation and coming up with the best plan of action based on all of the details and variables. All of the skills I outlined show up in these situations, since these situations are often very individual and unique in their own right, so I always lead with flexibility, kindness and curiosity.

In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends and what do you see as the biggest trend in 2024?

It is so important for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends – and not only adapt, but do everything in their power to stay ahead of the curve. It’s a necessity to make sure you’re doing your homework on what the next tool, trend, change, shift, update and more might be within your industry - and adjacent industries - to keep up with our world’s ever changing landscape. Especially in the digital media industry, which is Motiv’s major area of focus, everything is changing almost daily, so we have to stay in touch with it or else we’ll be left behind.

What's one common mistake you often see new entrepreneurs make, and how can they avoid it?

A mistake I sometimes see is when new business owners dive directly into the deep end before really mapping out what they want their business to be and to represent, how they want it to differentiate from other similar businesses, what their ideal client might look like and where they’d  eventually like to take their business. If you have a clear or at least near clear understanding of these areas before taking the leap, you’ll have an ever present north star to refer to anytime you hit a snag or have a question in terms of your business growth. Far too often I’ve seen unfortunate business decisions made because there’s not a clear focus (or north star) on what the company represents because the important groundwork wasn’t laid from the start. Having a focused and decisive sense of direction for your company – and even more important, why it’s different from other similar companies – is so crucial.

How do you keep learning and growing as an entrepreneur?

There are quite a few ways in which you can keep growing and learning; here are the top three for me:

1) Surround yourself with a team and people who help you grow – don’t hire “yes” people, individuals that will just do the job they’re asked to do without question. Surround yourself with people who can teach you things, who are smarter than you in certain areas, and who aren’t afraid to challenge something if they have a potentially better idea.

2) Follow and subscribe to social channels, podcasts and newsletters that are prolific and pioneers in your field – read everything you see from them and learn from them. Whether it’s professional, focused on entrepreneurs and growing your business or your area of expertise, or personal, focused on self improvement, mental health and internal growth, be open to all of it and use common sense to weed out the things that don’t serve you.

3) Put yourself out there - attend events that have areas of focus that will help you expand your learnings and meet new people. Don’t be afraid to ask for an informational coffee or virtual chat with someone who you know you can learn something from, just to pick their brain, and make sure to come to the table prepared with what you want to ask. Time is precious these days, so ensuring you’re not wasting anyone’s time is extremely important.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey in 2024?

It’s going to be tough, that’s inevitable. It’s going to be scary, that’s all part of the process. Trust your knowledge and instinct, be smart about laying the proper groundwork beforehand, pick as many brains as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions but only after you’ve done the proper digging yourself. And most importantly, work hard and be nice to people.


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