Interview with Randi Busse, President of Workforce Development Group, Inc.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Workforce Development Group, Inc. is a coaching and training organization that helps businesses improve customer service, increase customer retention and maximize revenue through cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. We provide training and follow-up coaching to your employees to instill in them an ownership mentality which translates into a better experience for your customers.
When and where did you start the business?
January, 2008 in Amityville, New York.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Prior to starting Workforce Development Group, Inc., I was a Customer Service Trainer and Coach at Verizon. I provided training, coaching and feedback to inbound call center representatives on their sales and service performance.
What outside resources were helpful for you? Business incubators, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE...?
I explored and took advantage of many resources available to me as an entrepreneur. I hired a business coach to help me decide if starting a business was even the right decision for me (it was!). I visited the Small Business Development Center at a local college and received valuable counseling from them on an ongoing basis. I originally visited them with a totally different business idea than I currently have. Through their counsel, I was able to discover that my passion was in a totally different area. I quickly changed gears and launched my training company after gaining that insight. In addition, I had several sessions with a SCORE counselor who provided support and encouragement.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
While operating a business from my home has proven to be a money saving decision, I find it has its' disadvantages as well. I start my day walking from my bedroom to my office early each morning. I end my day late each night walking from my office to my bedroom. I often work eighteen hours a day. I sometimes find it distracting to be working from home. There's always laundry to be done and dishes to be washed. If I were working outside of my home, I wouldn't have those types of distractions.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Never skimp on service! The service you provide to your clients is often the only differentiator between you and your competitors. Your competitors can't take away the relationship you have with your clients. Become a resource to your clients. Be on the lookout for ways to add value to your relationship with them. Introduce them to people they want to meet. Ask them what they need. Be interested in their business.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I have grown my business organically. I have established myself as a subject matter expert through speaking engagements and writing. I seek out and am now being sought to deliver presentations to industry association groups as well as chambers of commerce and local networking organizations. I actively look for opportunities to submit articles to publications for additional exposure. I have not made any cold calls nor have I paid for any advertising. My clients have come to me through referrals, speaking opportunities and articles that I have written.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
It has certainly had its' ups and downs. One minute I was confident in my decision to start my own business; the next minute I was questioning that decision and thinking I should just get a "job". I got my first client within a week of declaring myself in business. I thought, "Gee, that was easy." Unfortunately, getting the second client and the third client wasn't as easy. I thought having my own business would give me freedom over my time and provide me with more time off. The reality is that I'm working longer hours than I was when I was employed. However, the rewards greatly outweigh the disadvantages. I'm building something that I have a vested interest in.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
If you have a passion about something and feel you can make a difference by sharing it with others, go for it. It's an amazing journey to take as you give life to your business and watch it grow from your efforts.
Thank you for sharing your experience with me today, Randi.