Run Your News Business, Don’t Be It

Rusty Coats, Coats2Coats

If you don’t make time to think about your business, you’ll be given time to think about your news business – because you will no longer have one.

That was the message from Rusty Coats of Coats2Coats, moderater of “The Discipline to Succeed” breakout session this afternoon at the Block by Block Community News Summit in Chicago.

Once you decide you’re going to run a business, said Coats, “build a business plan. After that, things will start to happen incredibly fast for you.”

Coats’ tips for success include:

Being a Business vs. Running a Business

Many hyperlocal news websites/blogs were born out of a passion for journalism, but emotion is not enough to sustain a business. It’s important to differentiate between being the business and running it – make the distinction. According to Coats, a good place to start is by reading books like “The Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide” by Peri H. Pakroo J.D.

Put It In Writing

100 Day Milestone_task-Action

If you don’t already have one, create a business plan for your website. This document need not be a 30-page opus, but it should be longer than a tweet, said Coats. One way to get started is to set 100-day milestones – and write them down using a form he developed for Block by Block “Supercamp” and Community Journalism Executive Training program participants.

“This is the best way to hold yourself accountable and hold your business accountable,” Coats said. “The end goal is you are unrecognizable at the end of 100 days.”

New Media Biz Plan

The Buddy System

Once site publishers have developed a business plan and set some goals (whether it’s for building your audience or building your revenue) share with someone you respect. According to Coats, a business buddy is someone who can help hold you accountable.

What’s Your Exit Strategy?

Whether the endgame is the big buyout or leaving a legacy, Coats said planning an exit strategy helps paint the picture of what success looks like to you.

“Everything is on it’s way to something,” he said. “When you start to think in terms of an exit strategy, you’ll know when you’ve hit your milestones.”

Coats added that hyperlocal website publishers who use “The Lessons of Super Camp” handouts made available today at Block by Block and the 100-day spreadsheet linked to above will be far ahead of where they are currently.

“Your job coming out of Block by Block is to use these tools developed to help your businesses,” he said. “But they cannot help your business if you don’t fill them out and they cannot help your business if you don’t follow them.”


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