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Photo provided by Sidecar Social LLC

Startup Corner: Ettie Berneking, Sidecar Social LLC

Springfield’s startup community is here. Take the pulse.

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Minimally viable product …
Freelance journalism and content creation.

Problem solving …
I spent four years covering the Ozarks as an editor at 417 Magazine, and during that time, I saw so many businesses, farmers and producers struggling to share their stories with their audiences. They just didn’t have time or know-how to navigate social media. I decided to use my background to help businesses create and maintain a presence and personality on social media.

Seed money …
Because I offer a service instead of a product, my startup cost was pretty small. I needed $100 for the website, $50 for business cards, $100 each month for a co-working space membership at The eFactory and another grand to update my camera equipment. 

Hurdles overcome …
I needed office space that wouldn’t break the bank. And because I operate in the freelance world, I’m often on the road. I needed something that didn’t require any physical upkeep or maintenance. The eFactory was perfect. I don’t have to worry about security or utilities, and it gives me a home base.

Next phase …
I’ve been careful not to take on more clients than I can handle as a one-woman team. Now, I’m focused on creating best practices and workflow systems that will allow me to hire another team member. Then I can focus more on bringing on new clients.

Biggest mistake …
I wish I had had the foresight in college to take some business classes. The journalism program at Mizzou is fantastic and immersive, and you leave totally prepared to be a journalist and writer. But you don’t leave with much knowledge of how to survive as a freelancer – and so much of the journalism and media industry today operates within freelance. I didn’t know how to build an online portfolio, how to track and send invoices, how to create profit and loss sheets, how to pitch editors and clients I hadn’t worked with before – the list goes on. I learned everything on the fly.

Best advice received …
Build up some savings. I spent a year building my savings before I jumped into freelance. This gave me a little extra freedom to leave my part-time job and focus solely on Sidecar. It also gave me a timeframe to work from. I had six months to build the business and bring on new clients before I needed to look for work elsewhere.

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