When I decided to start my own business as a freelance writer, it was hard to find many “role models” who were doing the same kind of work that I wanted to do. One of the first people I met online who really inspired me to quit my job and start a business was Julie Trade Levitch.
Julie is a passionate PR professional, blogger, small business enthusiast, wife and mother of two. As a PR and marketing expert, Julie specializes in telling stories that sell – and her journey to starting a business is sure to inspire anyone who loves a good story…
“I became an entrepreneur suddenly and out of necessity in January 2007, when my husband was laid off from his job,” said Julie. “I had been home with our boys, and I had dabbled in freelance work. However, when my husband’s job was eliminated, we were suddenly faced with the harsh reality of losing our income, health insurance, and we had the fear of possibly not being able to pay for our home. So quickly, my entrepreneurial spirit reached new heights!”
Julie and her husband had just had a new baby, who was born premature. Since they lost their health insurance when Julie’s husband lost his job, they had to settle for a substandard health insurance plan – and their newborn baby then got sick with an emergency medical condition leading to $10,000 worth of bills. (Fortunately Julie’s son made a full recovery and is now a healthy 5-year-old boy.)
Even faced with all of these obstacles, Julie Trade Levitch went online and started finding clients for her PR, marketing and copywriting talents. She found customers on Elance, an online talent platform, and through her network of professional contacts, family and friends. Before long, Julie was making enough money to support the family, pay for the house, and pay off the medical bills. After awhile, Julie’s husband found a new job, but Julie decided to continue being an “entrepreneurial mom.”
Julie Trade Levitch now runs her own PR and Marketing firm called Sourdough Communications, named in honor of her beloved hometown of San Francisco. She works with clients ranging from small startups to larger companies in a variety of industries. “I love the diversity of the companies that I work with and the projects that they give me,” said Julie. “Each day is different, and it’s never boring. And, I have met some of the most amazing people since starting my business – many I now call friends. I help them, and they help me. The dynamics are so different than when you’re working in a traditional office environment. I don’t feel competition or envy. Every day I go to work trying to help other people build up their businesses, and I’m blessed that others have helped me.”
As a small business owner herself, Julie Trade Levitch is a passionate advocate for small businesses. She and her family decided to start a yearlong blog project during 2011 called “One Local Family,” where they only shopped at locally owned businesses – ignoring the big companies and national chains. The year-long experiment in “buying local” has shaped Julie’s perspectives on the importance of small businesses.
“Small businesses are the future of our economy, and most new jobs are being generated from small business growth,” said Julie. “I truly believe that the vast majority of Americans want to support small businesses. Sure, there are deals to be had at Wal-Mart, but you’re not going to build a relationship with the store manager. You’re going to do that with the neighborhood business owner who actually cares about the community and its future.”
As an experienced PR and marketing professional, Julie Trade Levitch often hears from corporate recruiters looking to hire new talent – but she has always chosen to stick with her life as an entrepreneur.
“There are major advantages to having a small business over working for a big company,” said Julie. “By being fast and nimble, you can get a competitive advantage over bloated, oversized enterprises. Embrace new technologies and figure out how they can be used in your particular industry. Make yourself vital to your customers. By doing so, you’ll know that you’ll never be a victim of downsizing. Work hard, be smart, and seek out new opportunities! Job security is now about being an empowered business owner – not necessarily being a corporate employee.”
Many aspiring entrepreneurs might be reluctant to start a business, fearing that it is too risky and thinking that they would be safer at their old job at a big company. Julie Trade Levitch says that from her experience, running a small business is a better way to stay versatile and preserve your job security.
“I’ve built my small business by being nimble, flexible and versatile,” said Julie. “Back in 2007, at the start of the recession, I provided marketing and PR services to a wide variety of clients, ranging from a supplier of asphalt products to a large telecommunications firm in Great Britain. Today I work with a plastic surgeon, a toy store, a large VoIP provider, and several accountants. Whatever business you’re in, I believe that having multiple niches and verticals that you work in can be a key strategy for success.”
Even after five years of successful entrepreneurship, Julie Trade Levitch still finds inspiration in her fellow small business owners.
“I decided to start the One Local Family blog because I am inspired by others who venture out on their own to start a business, and I’ll do whatever I can to support them,” said Julie. “This blog was intended as a means to promote businesses within my community and to educate consumers on the advantages of choosing local over big box retailers and corporate restaurants. We all have choices as consumers. And, I believe that by setting an example, we can help encourage others to support local businesses.”
Asked what was the most “surprising” small business she has discovered since becoming a business owner, Julie said that perhaps the most amazing small business story was from a client of hers – a wood flooring and tile company called Exquisite Surfaces in Sun Valley, CA.
“Exquisite Surfaces is a small business, but they have an incredibly impressive range of wood flooring and tile products, and they sell to the world’s top designers and celebrities,” said Julie. “The founder of the company, Paula Nataf, started with just a small investment and a whole lot of passion to grow a business. Now, they have showrooms across the country and have turned something small into a huge success. It’s these successes that inspire and motivate me. Who knows if I’ll be as successful as Paula Nataf, but she serves as an inspiration for what I’m doing with my business.”
About Julie Trade Levitch