[Thanks to Pam for sharing her informational interview report on how to become a business consultant and related career information.]
In a quest to learn more about the consultant and entrepreneur side of business, I interviewed an individual who is the founder and president of her own business solutions company. The company provides corporate training and coaching to businesses of all sizes. This person has owned her own consulting business for the last seven years. Prior to starting her own business, she worked in the human resource field as a corporate trainer for over fifteen years.
I met this person at a NCHRA (Northern California Chapter of Human Resource Association) workshop that she facilitated last year. After attending her workshop, I spoke briefly with her about the content she presented on. We have since kept in touch for future opportunities. I sent her an email to request an interview – requesting to find out more about her business, how she got started and the advantages and disadvantages of running her own business. My report summarizes my one-on-one meeting with her.
Summary of Interview
In her role as a corporate trainer, she was given the opportunity to learn from and be trained by an individual who is a consultant, speaker, author and principal of a solutions group company. She was approached by this individual to be a partner of the solutions group company and started her own business to deliver his material to corporations. As the president of her company, she works closely with her clients to understand their day-to day challenges as it relates to employee retention, engagement and productivity. She provides interactive training workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions in the areas of leadership development, effective communication, and customer service.
My interviewee described her job as hard work, but fun. She also described it as challenging, but rewarding. There is no typical day for her. As a business owner, she wears many hats. She is responsible for marketing, sales, scheduling, training facilitation, and all administrative tasks. While she is passionate about the training and coaching she provides (the reason she started her own business), sales and marketing is not her forte and she had to learn those skill sets to help her succeed. Scheduling is also a challenge for her. When she first started, she felt she needed to take the business when it was there. While her business is steadier now, she still finds that scheduling is an area of improvement for her, as she still finds it difficult to turn down business especially in today’s economy. This could also stem from her drive to succeed and to serve as many clients that she can.
She mentioned that it takes a lot of discipline as well to stay on task, focused and organized running your own business. This is another challenge for her. Her professional and personal life sometimes blends and she finds herself working varying hours to get things done. Lastly, she said that while she loves being on her own – she every so often misses the collaboration and social aspect of working with a team and for a company.
With all the challenges she spoke of, she still cannot see herself doing anything different than what she does now. Training is her passion and she loves sharing her knowledge in a fun, informative and interactive way. She is in her element when she is facilitating or coaching. She finds her work extremely rewarding and likes that she makes a difference in the lives of others both professionally and sometimes personally. While she may have some challenges running her business on her own, she likes the flexibility, autonomy and creativity of her work. She said the best advice she was ever given was to be the CEO of her own career path and that’s exactly what she did.
The information shared by the person I interviewed was very helpful in understanding the ups and downs of being on your own. From discussing both the good and bad, I feel that there is a lot more exploration I need to do for myself to determine whether this is the best path for me. My interviewee encouraged me to do more self-exploration while continuing to research and speak with others. She also suggested making lists of pros and cons as well as likes and dislikes of working for myself or for a corporation. She also offered the advice of creating a support group and joining other associations and groups. She suggested a few groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo User Groups and the joining the ASTD (American Society of Training and Development). Lastly, she mentioned to look for volunteer or paying opportunities to gain more experience and credibility before making a decision. I enjoyed speaking with her and gained some valuable knowledge. It also provided more clarity around the next steps I need to take to move in the right direction.
Thank You Card (Sent with the Book The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.)
I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me about your work. In speaking with you, I have gained more clarity and have a better sense of the direction of my own career path. The information you provided and the advice you offered are invaluable. I am on my way to being “the CEO of my own career path.” You truly are a “Go-Giver.”