Jodi’s Journal: Open for business

By Jodi Schwan

Maybe someday I’ll write a piece called “How to Launch a Business in 10 Days.”

That’s essentially all I’ve been doing other than occasionally sleeping since I started self-employment the evening of March 3. I would choose the one week with one fewer hour thanks to that whole “spring forward” transition, too.

But while it has been an overwhelming journey, and it’s still just beginning, I’m far enough along that I can open the virtual door and hopefully welcome some visitors inside.

My new business is going to take on a lot of forms, potentially, but they all connect to content. I believe there is great power in a well-told story.  We all have one to tell, including businesses. From my perspective – especially businesses.

In my six years at the Sioux Falls Business Journal, I was honored to tell stories of longtime family businesses taking on new challenges, of innovative entrepreneurs disrupting business models, and of seemingly everyone in between.

I was fortunate to be asked at times to consider working for some of the businesses I covered. And while the idea intrigued me, I never wanted to work for just one business. And I really didn’t want to leave the media industry entirely behind.

So I figured out a model that will let me do it all.

I am proud to launch Align Content Studio. Align helps businesses tell their stories through content – everything from written pieces to photos, graphics and videos. We provide content strategy, creation and distribution to help our clients align their messages with the right mediums and reach their desired audience.

And that’s where the second piece of my model enters the equation.

As I thought through how I could best help my clients, I realized that even the most engaging content might struggle to reach people. Sharing businesses’ content on their websites, social media and email newsletters was a good start, but it would be hard – and expensive – to tap an audience that hadn’t already opted to seek out the business.

That realization – combined with how I genuinely love working in the media – led me to create my own distribution channel.  So today, I am launching SiouxFalls.Business, a digital business product that allows me to continue reporting area business news as I help my clients’ content reach an additional audience.

You can visit SiouxFalls.Business for frequently updated area business news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and sign up for an emailed business newsletter.

You’ll also see our work on KSFY-TV and hear it on KELO-AM. I have contributed to these media organizations for several years and am honored they will continue to collaborate with me in this new endeavor.

I also am overwhelmed and humbled by the businesses that have agreed to work with me as clients and sponsors. They are organizations I have admired for years led by people I respect enormously.

This business model is new to Sioux Falls, but it’s an emerging one elsewhere. I’m excited to show you how it’s going to work.

I created SiouxFalls.Business with the user experience as my priority. The content is free. There are no banner or pop-up ads. And our partners’ content is clearly labeled. But I actually think you’ll find it just as interesting as anything else on our site.

For now, I am the only full-time employee of Align Content Studio. I hope to grow the staff fairly soon. But I also am incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most talented independent contractors in our area. My team is a huge reason I was able to launch this business, and I can’t wait for you to see their work.

This isn’t the first time I’ve said this and it won’t be the last: Sioux Falls, for me, is an ideal place to start a business. I have felt it with every single conversation I’ve had about starting a venture. I was given such a positive reception from this community when I announced I was starting something new – and hardly anyone even knew what I would be doing! I’ll never forget that.

So thank you for the huge multitude of ways so many of you have supported me. I am happy and grateful to be starting this venture. I’m excited to provide a needed service to businesses, and I feel really good about bringing a little more locally owned media to our city.

I plan to write this column every other week to start, so I hope you’ll come with me as I take you behind the scenes of building a business and continue telling the stories I discover along the way.

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Jodi’s Journal: Open for business

Maybe someday I’ll write a piece called “How to Launch a Business in 10 Days.”

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