My sister, Barb Stengard, is my favorite encore entrepreneur. So I'm going to tell you her story in the hopes that it inspires you like it did me. It's not a short story, but I think it's probably pretty typical of the path most such businesses take when they start out. You have an idea and eventually you decide to get serious about the whole thing and figure out how to make it work. It's just that simple and just that hard.
Barb is an accounting professional. She started doing accounting work in high school for our local park district. After college, armed with a degree in business, she continued working in the accounting field, became more experienced and finally ended up working as controller for a couple of small businesses in the Atlanta area.
When the recession hit, she started thinking about more flexible ways to earn a living by providing a service that helped both companies struggling to meet their payroll and employees looking for ways to add to their income when they could only work part time. She especially thought about what she would have wanted when she was a young mom and wanted to continue working but still have time to raise her family
She eventually came up with the idea of Mom-Talent, a niche staffing agency that provides part-time, or project accounting employees for businesses that don't want or need full time employees. The employees she recruits are well qualified "moms" who want to return to the accounting field, but, for whatever reasons, don't want to work full time. Some of the "moms" truly are young moms. Some are retirees and some are just people who want a better work-life balance and more time for volunteering, playing tennis, or traveling. Many of them are CPA's who don't want the intensity of working at that level full time. She found jobs for a couple of people, but it was hard to really concentrate on the business while holding down her own high-level accounting job.
About three years ago, when Barb lost her job, it was time to get serious about the whole thing. She had to decide if she was going to #1. Keep playing around at her business, #2. Look for another full time job to pay her bills, or #3. Go for it and work hard at making her dream come true. She voted for #3 and hasn't looked back.
Today she is profitable, makes a decent income and has a huge network of clients who refer business to her. It has not been easy, but it has been exhilarating. She has learned how to speak in front of groups, appear on the radio, make cold calls, and network, network, network. She has joined various referral groups of one type or another, and attends mixers where she liberally hands out business cards and prospects for her next clients.
So today I salute my sister, and offer her as a role model for anyone kicking around the idea of starting a business or taking your business idea to the next level. With LOTS of hard work, and determination, it can be done. This is something she can enjoy doing for as long as she is able. It allows her the flexibility to spend more time with her family, and keeps her challenged as she sets and meets her goals.
Barb says, "I've learned to actually enjoy speaking to groups because I love what I do! I help people find good jobs, I provide myself and my family with a good income, and I enjoy the thrill of setting goals, meeting the challenges and growing my business. I work for ME, and I may be the hardest boss I've ever had, but the rewards are worth it."
She's learned a lot of lessons along the way and I'll share those in another post. In the meantime, set your own goals, plan how you'll meet them and then just go for it! No matter what you want to do, whether it's for business or pleasure, you can make it happen.
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