by Mellissa Thomas
How is your business going?
If you are successful and free to do what you want, hold your hand up to your screen and receive this high five. However, if you are more like most newer entrepreneurs, you are a headless chicken sweating your way up the hill of success, confident you and your business will grow, no matter how things look right now.
But that is just your one business. Have you ever thought of franchising yourself by setting up subsidiary companies that provide specialty services? What if you had a three-entity business?
Do not fall out of your chair, stay with me.
Running a group of three businesses may sound daunting, but let this success story inspire you that you can definitely do it if you want to.
Suzette Farquharson (pronounced FAR-kuh-son)-Morgan runs her three successfully as a Christian and single mother of three.
The Relevant Backstory
Suzette Farquharson-Morgan is a Jamaica-born self-published writer, editor, publisher, and motivational speaker who came up to Florida as a child and drove her heels into the warm sand. According to Program Success Magazine’s May 2011 article, she attended West Orange High School in Winter Garden, and received her undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Florida and her Masters in Communications from the University of Central Florida.
She worked at Harcourt, Inc. (now known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) shortly after graduating from UF and stayed with the company for six years as a copy editor (for non-book content at first), and began writing her first book, Living Testimonies, while there.
However, she quit Harcourt in December 2002 to finish the book and be a full-time mom, living from the money she’d saved and her Harcourt 401(k) plan. When that reservoir ran dry, she worked part time.
But she never imagined establishing a publishing company.
Two years after her book’s completion, FarMor Publishing was born. The name alone is a beautiful branding story: it is the combination of her maiden and married names, Far (Farquharson) Mor (Morgan); and also stems from the company slogan, “Reaching far more than the eyes can see.” Farquharson-Morgan wisely waited until the publishing company was legally established to finally publish her book (2005).
FarMor Publishing currently has ten clients (herself included), has published over ten books to date.
But with any product, books or otherwise, one cannot just build it and they will come. They cannot come if they do not know, right?
She covered that, too–with a non-profit company.
For the one-year anniversary of FarMor Publishing’s second book’s release, Honey for the Soul: This is the Season, Farquharson-Morgan coordinated an entertainment event at the Maitland Civic Center that brought together local artists in the central Florida community, and she oversaw the production of a gospel soundtrack of songs that were inspired by the poems in Honey for the Soul.
The event was such a success that Farquharson-Morgan birthed FarMor Entertainment as a 501(c)3 in 2009. When I asked why she chose to make it a non-profit company, she explained that her group is essentially a ministry. Having a non-profit makes it easy to raise money for the events (sponsorships, grants, etc.), and all funding is tax-deductible for donors and sponsors.
Here is another cool brand story: FarMor Entertainment’s non-profit registration was done on a service-to-service (aka barter) basis. She met a young lady who specialized in non-profit companies, and she learned that the young lady’s brother needed some help with his book, so Farquharson-Morgan received her services in exchange for helping her brother with his book.
FarMor Entertainment, a four-person team, now holds an event for three occasions each year: the Valentine’s Day season (celebrating God’s love), Independence Day season (freedom from spiritual, emotional, and physical bondage), and Thanksgiving Day season (giving thanks and praise to God).
These events follow the model of the anniversary event that inspired them: Farquharson-Morgan seeks out great community talent (singers, artists, rappers, poets, writers, dancers, etc.) to perform based on each event’s theme, and as she explained, each performance is a cumulative experience.
For example, one person recites a poem, the next person sings a song that reinforces or augments the message in the previous poem, then the next person performs a gospel mime that dovetails off the previous song, and so on.
She also clarified that she not only includes book launches during those three events, but FarMor Entertainment also coordinates independent book signings and launch events throughout the year.
I asked her how she acquires sponsorships for the events, and she explained that she starts by contacting the businesses in an event venue’s close proximity, then she expands her sponsor search in three ways:
- by contacting businesses and entrepreneurs in the greater area,
- by using traditional press releases (yes, those still work),
- and by contacting business organizations (the Central Florida Association of Black Journalists, for example).
But the story does not end here. The one-year anniversary event also spawned the third arm of Farquharson-Morgan’s business.
Audio recordings are a great supplemental revenue opportunity (hence the gospel soundtrack for Honey for the Soul), and are therefore an option for writers who wish to offer packages for their books instead of selling the books alone; they are especially handy for her poet clients.
According to the company website, FarMor Recording has already released poetry CD “It’s a Love Thing”, and a sing-along CD for FarMor Publishing’s first full-color children’s book, The Fly and the Hippo.
The three companies fall under Farquharson-Morgan’s umbrella company, FarMor Group, Inc. (FGI). Want to know FGI’s name story? According to Farquharson-Morgan, FGI is also an acronym for “formed in God’s image.”
She understands the power of backstory–in everything her companies do.
7 summary Takeaways that Can Help Your Business
- If you can monetize relevant skills to expand the number of customers you serve, franchise yourself.
- You will most likely need a team, even if only a small one.
- Foster great relationships and do not be too proud to barter your services.
- Consider making your entity a non-profit if it is appropriate for your business.
- Harness the power of your local community (get out and talk to local residents and local business organizations, especially if you have an online business).
- If you know you can benefit from a press release, use one.
- Outsource what you cannot do or do not have time to do. Farquharson-Morgan outsources her clients’ cover design services as well as book printing.
Photo by JahGon. Used with permission.