Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brad Montgomery, a Motivational Keynote Business Speaker, based in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a motivational speaker for business, association, and healthcare audiences. I work with organizations that are ready to invest in the people side of their businesses. This means I teach science-backed people skills with bottom-line business impacts.
Tell us about yourself
I've never had a "real" job. My entire adult life has been spent earning money by standing in front of audiences. I started as a comedian & magician and worked for comedy clubs, cruise ships, and hundreds of colleges. But eventually, after seeing an AMAZING motivational speaker actually help audiences to help themselves, I became motivated to use my skills connecting with an audience to create a bigger impact.
I love my job. Nothing is more fun than standing in front of an audience and taking them through a roller coaster of laughter, deep thoughts, and even heartfelt emotions. But the coolest part of this fun job is getting notes from people I've never met — people who saw me speak — with touching and kind messages about how my ideas and program have helped them be more positive, make more of a difference, and even improve their career or their organizations. Those notes are really touching... and help me want to get my message out to as many people as possible.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Gosh. I'm proud of what I've built. First of all, just saying that I've been earning a living on stages my entire adult life is something I'm proud of. I'm proud that I've been hired (and re-hired) by companies large and small (including BOEING, Microsoft, and Verizon.). I'm proud that I've helped government organizations like the CIA (yup, that CIA) and the FBI (yup, that FBI.)
I'm also proud of the fact that my peers inducted me into the Speaker Hall of Fame (there are only around 150 of us worldwide.) But most of all, I'm proud that I have a job where I actually make a difference. Yes, some people in my audience enjoy it, laugh, and then leave. But others really seem to take my message in and use it to make better connections in their personal and professional life.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's hard to turn off this job. I work hard and often think about work when I'm not working. But this is both a curse and a joy. It's a curse because it's sometimes hard to get away truly. But it's a joy because I LOVE THIS JOB!!!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be patient. It takes time. More time than you've probably guessed. You can get limited success fairly quickly, but it takes a long time to really earn your loyal customers.
- Don't sweat the contracts and legal agreements too much. When I was young, I used to really spend a lot of time with contracts. Now I have a 1-page contract and the assumption that I'll never take advantage of my clients, and they will not take advantage of me. After nearly 3 decades in this business, I've never been treated unfairly. I believe my "I trust you and ask you to trust me" approach has helped me grow my business and connect better with my clients.
- Remember that every dollar you save is a dollar you don't have to make. When I was younger, many of my peers had fancy offices and high overheads. I worked from home before it was cool... And saved enough to put at least two of my kids through college. Now that I am making more money, I'm happy to invest in myself and my business. But I'm also thoughtful of not spending on the business when it isn't required.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I've seen many people in my industry start this business and then eventually drop out because I don't think they truly understood that this is a business. That means it's work. It means you have to do a bunch of stuff you don't want to do. It means long nights and weekends. But in my experience, doing that hard work was (and is!) totally worth the freedom, the meaning, and purpose, and the financial payout. Are you starting a business? Ask yourself if you're truly willing to do the fun stuff AND the stuff that makes it feel like work. If you're not up for that second part, save yourself the trouble and work for somebody else.
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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