9 Lessons from someone who changed fields to start her own business

Nov 13, 2014

Debbie Goetz

Credit: Delaware Valley College. Debbie Goetz, president and founder of Debbie Goetz Media Connections, presents at Delaware Valley College as part of the Watson-Executive-in-Residence Program Nov. 11.

“A topless bar changed my world,” said Debbie Goetz, president and founder of Debbie Goetz Media Connections, during her speech at Delaware Valley College.

It was because a bar in her small town decided to have topless dancers that Goetz ended up stepping into the world of media relations. The Concerned Citizens of Warwick Township asked her to help with a campaign to get media attention. They were hoping that if they could draw the public’s attention to the issue of a topless bar in their small community, located close to schools, churches and daycare centers, they could get the business to stop offering topless dancing. Goetz ended up as the spokesperson for the group.

“I leveraged the contacts I had developed and I reached out to all the television stations, The Intelligencer,  Inquirer, KYW NewsRadio and the Bucks County Herald,” said Goetz.

She ended up getting the attention of the Philadelphia media community and eventually the bar was sold. After several years under its current ownership, the sports bar has become a valued member of the community.. Goetz took that experience and the connections she made through that and other projects and used them to start her own public relations and media relations business.

She visited DelVal Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 as part of the Watson Executive-in-Residence (WEIR) Program to share advice from her journey to starting her own business with current students. Goetz has a master’s degree in business administration from Temple University and more than 30 years of business experience in New York City, Bucks and Montgomery counties and Philadelphia.

The WEIR Program brings high-achieving executives to campus to share candid advice from the business world with students. Goetz is the 18th speaker in the series. The WEIR Program awards a scholarship each time a speaker comes to campus and the recipient introduces the speaker. Melanie Welsh ’15, a business student, was selected as the Watson Scholar.

Like most people, Goetz had her doubts before she took the plunge and started her own company, but a few good mentors encouraged her to switch fields and do something she loved.

“I tried to not let fear get in my way when I started my company,” said Goetz. “That was four and a half years ago and I haven’t looked back.”

Here are her 9 lessons from starting her own business:

1. Don’t let fear keep you from reaching your dreams

2. It’s OK to ask for help. Reach out to parents, friends and colleagues.

3. If you don’t like what you’re doing try something different. You’re not locked into a career or field of study. Go and find something you’re passionate about.

4. Always stay open to learning new things (about your industry, technology, and current events).

5. Make a good impression (look professional, say thank you).

6. Get relevant experience through a summer job or internship or, connect with people in the field by shadowing someone. Traveling abroad can also provide relevant experience to help you stand out for future opportunities.

7. Set yourself up on LinkedIn and Twitter to optimize your professional social media presence. Follow discussions in your field. See who is trending in your field and share and connect with them.

8. Network both online, through social media, and in person. You can  make valuable connections this way.

9. Don’t be afraid to fail.

“J.K. Rowling was a single mom living on welfare when she began writing her first Harry Potter novel,” Goetz told students. “I don’t have to tell you how successful she is today.”

The Watson Executive-in-Residence speaker series was founded by Thomas Watson '57, a DelVal alumnus who started out in pharmaceutical sales and realized he was passionate about advertising. Established in 2006, it has featured 18 executives as guest lecturers, with a scholarship awarded in each of their names. The program focuses on preparing students for the business world by bringing top executives to campus to share candid advice and lessons from their careers.

Watson is the CEO of Tom Watson Consulting, LLC, and co-founder of Omnicom Group and Omnicom University. He consults for Omnicom’s global management education and leadership development, the MBA Residency Program, and the company’s diversity initiative. Watson developed the Omnicom University Senior Management Program for management education and leadership development. He serves as chairman of the DelVal President’s Advisory Council and is a member of the Business Management and Information Advisory Council. He is a graduate of Delaware Valley College (B.S.) and Hofstra University's Frank G. Zarb School of Business (MBA). He also received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from DelVal. Watson remains involved with DelVal’s business students and has mentored students from the program. He visits campus for each WEIR Program and for this program, he offered one-on-one on campus meetings with DelVal’s business students.