Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brian Watkins, President and Founder of BTOM Consultants, located in Buffalo Grove, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I work with individual front-line managers to help them learn the behaviors needed to be great managers. What many don't realize is that front-line managers are responsible for up to 70% of employee engagement. Yet, most managers receive little training, and when they do get training, it tends to be ineffective. My program is effective, efficient, and affordable. My mission is to make every manager in the world great.

Tell us about yourself

When I was first promoted to manager, I wasn't very good. I got the promotion because I was a high performer, but that performance didn't prepare me to be a great manager. As I started talking with others, this was the norm. I worked hard (making lots of mistakes) to learn to become a great manager, and I don't want others to have to struggle as much as I did.

What motivates me is that everyone - and I mean everyone - has at least one bad manager story. When you ask about it, you hear how unmotivated they became, how much frustration they had to deal with, and how it hurt their careers and their lives. It doesn't have to be this way. I want everyone to have a great work experience where they can contribute and be successful - and that starts with having a great manager.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I worked with one client - a non-profit - that was reorganizing the management team and needed training. We did a survey of managers and employees before we started training and then did a survey after to see what changes we made. We measured 13 metrics and set clear goals for 5 of the most important. We not only exceeded the goals in all 5 areas, but we also saw significant improvements in all 13 measurements. Managers felt better equipped to do their job, and employees recognized it and felt more engaged.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest part is the number of things you have to do and worry about. There is no shortage of tasks and people that want your attention. It requires a desire to constantly be learning and the ability to prioritize. Peter Drucker once said a manager's job is to say "no." I teach all managers (and try to adhere to) the principle that you shouldn't do more with less but do less and do important.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't wait until everything is perfect to launch - you'll never get there. Just jump in and focus on making things better every day.
  2. Do less, but focus on the important things. You'll be tempted to do more and more and always add things to the task list. Just stop. You know what is important. Spend the time on that.
  3. Develop systems. You do not have to follow them 100% of the time, but you will find that if you just do things without documenting or tracking, you end up spending too much time re-building the wheel. Checklists are your biggest friend.

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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