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Caryn STARR-GATES,

Owner, StarrGates Business Communications
Connect with Caryn here. Caryn Starr Gates

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

Promotional copywriting that helps businesses get the word about their products and services in all media: print, broadcast and digital. We produce work for advertising, marketing and public relations assignments for a variety of clients and industries. From ad campaigns to press releases, brochures and table tents to expert byline articles, StarrGates Business Communications provides sparkling copy to market your message.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?

As the entrepreneur of one’s life, it’s essential to be in charge of your path, map your goals and target clientele—and go for it! To take the necessary risks, be sure to build up a strong support network of trusted advisors. Also become the hub of other people’s referral base, the go-to person for business colleagues—work together when appropriate for better results.

As far as integrating life and business/personal and business brand: I have found that my passion for volunteering in the personal realm has crossed over occasionally into the business realm; that my sense of fairness, integrity and authenticity in my personal life is no different in my work life. I think that’s the nugget right there – be authentic with everyone, be honest and sincere, professional in all dealings across all facets of your life.

Regarding personal and business brands—as a creative person I find I am able to express that creativity across many areas of my life, both in my writing and in other ways – whether helping others think through a solution to a problem or creating a delicious feast for friends or family.

Dressing with care and style at all times is another way I express my brand to the public; I am known for my large collection of hats, for example … and I have written articles in the past about the importance of dressing for success, no matter what position in business you hold or where you work (such as a home office)—I’ve often cautioned colleagues to make sure they never show up to a business or networking event looking as if they just finished doing housework! It’s all part of marketing.

How long did it take to get started?

This is a re-launch of my original career. I started my professional life as an advertising copywriter 30 years ago in Atlanta and then New York City. Since then I’ve enjoyed some other very diverse and interesting careers (professional cook, restaurant manager and then area supervisor for a national casual theme chain, professional organizer, gift basket designer/retailer). Throughout all these other careers, I’ve always had an opportunity to use my writing skills—creating an ad campaign for an employer, creating a new monthly newsletter column for a company, writing my own website copy.

About five years ago I approached some business contacts about my writing services and started freelancing while continuing to run another business. In the latter half of 2008 I decided to return to my writing roots full time. I registered StarrGates Business Communications at the start of 2009 and have been having a great time! All the tools I needed were already here—my writing skills, my ability to learn quickly and tackle different types of projects, organization, and a computer.

Is your business profitable?

Yes it is. It is a home-based business which helps reduce overhead. There is no inventory and I do not have any direct employees.

What adjectives would you use to describe how you feel most days when you wake up?

Anticipatory, cheerful, focused

What is a “day in the life” like for you?

I get down to my office early in the morning after walking my dog, around 7:00 a.m. and check emails for any urgently needed responses or tasks. I also use the early morning hours before 9:00 a.m. to try and handle responsibilities and tasks for my non-profit volunteer activities.

After getting my teenage daughter off to school by 7:45, I’m back at the computer ready to tackle the day’s assignments. It’s a typical work day as it is for so many other professionals—client phone calls and meetings, writing assignments, the occasional educational webinar or workshop in the morning or midday. Towards the end of the day my attention turns back to family commitments and needs such as getting my daughter to appointments or preparing dinner. Many evenings I am out at networking events, seminars or board meetings for my volunteer commitments.

As with many home-based business owners, I find I am always at work – so late night client emails are not unusual and it is not unusual at all to be working on writing projects at 10 or 11 p.m. because that’s when I can get some good work done (quiet time).

Who has supported your most / least in your journey?

My husband, Larry Gates, is—without a doubt—my biggest supporter in so many ways. I also credit my sister members of the NJ Association of Women Business Owners (www.njawbo.org), who have also supported me along the way as I made my transition from my former business to StarrGates Business Communications. It was through the projects I got from the organization and from a few members that I realized my goal of re-launching my writing career in earnest.

Is your business your passion?

It’s one of them! I love what I do and it’s so organic for me, it’s not really like working at all … it’s just doing what I do. But I have other passions as well; I’d say that in the last 10 or 15 years, the biggest realm has been community service and volunteerism. As an adjunct to that I would add building community. Some of this comes through my work with clients, some comes through my volunteer service.

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