Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Donald Oehlert, Managing Partner of eCareerCoaching.com, LLC., located in Lake Barrington, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
eCareerCoaching.com works with two major types of clients:
The first is outplaced or frustrated executives that are 45 years old and older (Director level or higher).
- Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are looking to add employee numbers 2-15. These companies don't normally have internal HR departments, so we serve as fractional HR executives. They are also too small for PEOs. They don't normally have methods for defining appropriate job descriptions, deciding who is the best next employee, and so on.
- With client type number 1, we help executives create unique, powerful, and concise job search messaging and tools that express their contributions in a rich fashion. From this message set, we create powerful and meaningful documents (resumes, handbills, etc.) and presences on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. We also coach them on their interviewing skills. It's all about enhancing their chances of getting a new position that they really want.
For client type number 2, we use our 20-year-long experience in the HR space to help those SMBs find and onboard new employees. We do this through personality profiling of their current staff members and those last few good candidates. With this data, we can help make sure they know whom they should hire. We also coordinate background checks (criminal, driving, social media, educational, etc.) so they get who they think they are getting - and to avoid expensive mistakes (as best as possible). It's all about reducing the odds that they will hire the wrong person, which can bankrupt a small company.
Tell us about yourself
When I was laid off in the fall of 2003, I didn't know how to search for new employment. I was getting a bit older (and so suffered from ageism), and the internet had added a large number of variables to the equation. To find my next job, I had to learn how to search. I also had to learn how to market myself effectively. I attended numerous networking groups to help myself learn about new opportunities. Some were good, and some not so much. During this time (late 2003 to early 2004) I found a great group in the suburban area near where I live, and I volunteered to help with that group and ultimately joined the core team with that group.
I've attended over 250 different presentations from job search experts and learned a bit from each one. Over that time period, I started helping people I knew with their search efforts. I started to see consistent needs from these people and started working on my approach to job search. Ultimately, I wrote a book about job search and also started hiring myself out to help executives land new positions. At the last count (early 2023), I helped over 850 people. Nothing creates more joy for me than that phone call or email that says, "Don, I got the job!" It's my personal and professional "why."
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Helping over 850 people land new positions!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
First and foremost - finding new clients to serve. People are more skeptical than ever, and there are more self-proclaimed "experts" out there - some with better marketing skills than you - to compete with. Trust yourself to know the difference between great products and great marketing. Then improve your marketing skills as best and as soon as you can.
The sale of your services will be the most challenging because most people that start a small business do so because they love - and are good at - the work itself. Conversely, most people are not good at sales. But in order to deliver your services, you have to sell your offering effectively. Otherwise, you have a hobby, not a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure there's a large enough and fertile enough market out there that can afford your services or products. To do this better, talk to as many people that you know that could be your best clients or customers. Speak with them as often as you can, for as long as you can. Learn from them. Prepare your offering as best as you can to serve this market. Ask about pricing. Ask about service offerings. Make sure your offering is benefit-rich and priced fairly for both you and your customer base. Finally, try to start as a side hustle, and when you can replace your income, go full-time!
- You will need to know how to set up your business legally and business-needs-wise. Hire an attorney and an accountant to help with this. Visit the Small Business Association (SBA) and speak with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in your town. Go to SCORE - the Service Core of Retired Executives - to gain more knowledge on the ins and outs of invoicing, marketing, business strategy, and so on. You will not be disappointed by the advice and suggestions given by these people.
- Speak on as many appropriate stages as you can get on. The more you speak, the louder your voice will be in the uniformed communities you will serve in the future. This will also provide social proof that you know what you are doing.
- GO FOR IT!
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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