Funny Business

Funny Business

Starting a business is no joke, but it helps if you don’t take yourself too seriously.

By Meg Suggs

Think comedy routines are just for comedians? Not true. Just ask Kirsten Poe Hill and Renée E. Warren, co-presidents of a N.Y.-based event management and media relations firm, Noelle-Elaine Media Inc., whose clients include Black Entertainment Television, the Disney Channel and L’Oréal. More than once their collective sense of humor helped them get by.

Now they offer these amusing business survival techniques:

Be resourceful. Tight on cash? Find creative ways to cut corners. When their company was new, Hill and Warren shared a business card, accepted furniture as payment and even rented evening gowns for their own events.

Hide the peanut butter. Hill and Warren used to eat peanut butter sandwiches as a way to pinch pennies, but not before telling their interns to go out for some fresh air. “Alerting your employees about company problems is like yelling fire in a crowded theater,” Hill says.

Mind your P’s. According to Hill, “Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.” Add persistence to that list: When the women needed an interview with Nelson Mandela for a client, they took advantage of a previously scheduled trip to South Africa and followed him around. Their dedication (and stalking) paid off. They were able to sit down for a quick one-on-one with Mandela.

When all else fails, sing. Warren and Hill made up their own tune for relieving stress that goes, “By the seat of our pants, by the seat of our pants.”

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