Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenny Morse, President, and CEO of Appendance, Inc., located in Fort Collins, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We provide corporate training to groups and individuals in business writing. We basically teach professionals who are not professional writers how to write well for their jobs.
Tell us about yourself
My business started by accident. I went to a barbecue and met a woman who had been providing business writing training and wanted to retire. She and I got talking, and she decided to tell her main client to start calling me for their writing training needs. And my business grew from there primarily based on referrals, so we have now served more than 50 businesses in Colorado and around the country. Since I have many degrees in English and Creative Writing, what I love most about our core business is that I get to take everything I am passionate about in language and make it practical and useful to businesspeople who need to get their jobs done through writing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have two: my 6-week online course, Better Business Writing, won the Excellence in Communication Consulting award from the Association for Business Communication, which was quite an amazing honor. And I just published my first book, Bada$$ Business Writing. The e-book is available now on Amazon. The paperback is coming soon.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Figuring out what to delegate. As the business owner, you feel responsible for everything, especially if the product is you. Early on, a small business coach I worked with tried to encourage me to work "on" my business instead of "in" my business, which might work for people in a lot of cases, but my product actually is me. The information I share is readily available to anyone who wants to read, so what people are really paying for is my delivery of the material. I've shifted to what I'm jokingly referring to as a "rockstar model," where I should be the face of the company, but I would love to hire a manager and an agent and all those support folks to do the contract negotiation and scheduling and accounting, etc. I do have an amazing assistant who helps me with just about everything, and her support has been essential to me learning how to delegate and focus on the things I am really good at.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Meet as many people as possible. You never know which meeting is going to turn into a business or a client, or a resource. The value of networking is unbelievably real.
- Experiment. You won't know what works until you try it. You are unlikely to get it right the first time.
- Listen to your customers. Other people are the only ones who can give you the perspective you need to run your business. What do they want? What do they need from you? What do they like? What don't they like? You don't have to do what they say. But that feedback will produce a response in you, and that response is the most valuable thing you can get. You'll either think, "What an interesting idea!" and then try it out. Or you'll think, "Absolutely not! You don't understand what I'm doing!" And both those responses help you figure out your business, what's working and not working, what you want to do and don't want to, and the direction you want to head in.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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