2017 will go down in history as a year of many changes. In May, I finished my MBA at Loyola Marymount University. After graduation, it took about 4 months to start enjoying weekends again – without feeling like I was supposed to be doing homework or studying for a test.
It took me less than a month after graduation to make a decision to start my own business. In lieu of homework, I spent time learning how to start a business. Business school is certainly helpful, but it does not teach you everything. Step one: a website. It seemed somehow ironic that my absolute least favorite class in the MBA program taught us about computer coding…. and the very first thing I needed to do as a business owner was create code. Sigh.
My first 2 clients were immediate. In fact, they were the people that encouraged me to start this business. Within about a month, my client list grew to 5. I expected to make many mistakes on this journey, and I did not disappoint! Mistakes are lessons, right? I made lots. Yet somehow, every client was happy.
The first big pivot happened quickly. My plan had been to create business plans, and then move on. Yet the very nature of business requires constant re-evaluation and adjustment. How could I walk away while telling a business owner to frequently revisit the model we created? The need for ongoing assistance was greater than I expected. I recognized the opportunity and started offering ongoing billable service.
August brought the publication of my MBA thesis – an extremely exciting achievement. The paper studied the concept of the expatriate entrepreneur, which is person who moves to a new country and starts a business. I must credit several of the interviews I did with expat-entrepreneurs as contributing factors into my decision to start a business. Many of the business owners explained that having a fallback plan brought them comfort when starting a business. I was already employed, so it seemed logical that I already had a fallback plan. Why not try something new on the side? As the publication came out, I was already working with my former professor on a second publication! Exciting things are coming!
December has been a truly rewarding month for 4 Oranges. I’ll end the year with 10 clients! In addition to adding new clients, I had 2 rewarding experiences in December. First, I was asked to judge the final presentations of the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at Loyola Marymount University. I watched 4 teams of students pitch business ideas. We judged the groups on the overall viability of the idea, as well as the success of the presentation. So much of business comes from the ability to communicate your idea to an audience. Your product will not sell if customers can’t understand how it works. I’m excited about the new business ideas that continue to come from students.
The second rewarding experience was teaching a seminar for the Boosting Your Side Hustle series hosted by the Women’s Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles. I helped 10 businesses grow by applying the categories of the Lean Canvas to these businesses. The 2 hour session provided insights into ways to find customers, set pricing, solve problems, and confidently answer the common question of: “What do you do?”
So what do I do? I help businesses grow by loaning out my strategic brain, my connections, and my business knowledge in a warm environment where you feel more like a business partner than a consulting client.
I can’t wait to continue this amazing path in 2018.