Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessica Gould, Owner of J Gould Consulting, located in Panorama City, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a legislative consultant for the disability community of California, currently a sole proprietor business. My clientele base includes statewide organizations that serve the disability community but want to make a difference, like affecting the legislative process. That's where I come in. I train them and even assist them in this process. For instance, one of my current clients is the Lanterman Housing Alliance. A statewide organization comprised of housing industry professionals, representatives from the state or on disability, and people directly impacted by the effect of lack of housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. My company does a variety of tasks for this client ranging from helping them track and get legislation through the state to organizing and coordinating meetings for the organization itself. Even if asked, I could arrange legislative meetings with the alliance and legislative representatives to get their issues through the state.
Tell us about yourself
Even though my business has only been open for three years, I started working on it 10 years ago. That is when I started researching and engrossing myself in the community on a state level, joining any organization I could to understand why the disability community was so underfunded compared to every other population. It bothered me that even in the underserved population, all communities of homelessness, middle and lower class, minority groups, women, etc., the list goes on; disability is lost in the shuffle. Most every other minority population guess their fair short and steep funding the disability community does not. This is what motivated me to start joining the boards of the organizations that made the decisions. I did this for seven years and then figured it out through conversation, mainly their technical boundaries. That is when I decided to open. I realized by doing all this that, for the most part, they wanted to help, but due to Bureau bureaucracy and technicalities in some elements, their hands were tied, and there still was the need. So, I decided to become the bridge that made it so these conversations could happen easier and resolutions could start happening. My personal standpoint on the whole thing is like Switzerland; I hold no personal agenda when assisting my clients. My sole focus is on what they need and how to get it through the legislative process.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
At the beginning of this year, I hosted a zoom conference that had statewide officials and representatives from all four elements of the disability community that impacts people socially. Housing employment and direct service assistance. They engaged in an interactive conversation about the reality that all of these entities suffer from the same problem, which is a lack of funding. I opened up the conversation that as people serving these different entities, they have more in common than they realize despite their size. The YouTube video is visible to the public and is called meeting of the minds underneath my YouTube channel J Gould Consulting.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balancing out what you share with the public for free content, whether for promotional or just general information, and what you decide an individual must pay for to see or obtain. If you don't put out enough people, they don't know you exist. If you put out everything, you will lose your income. This has especially become apparent in the last two years, where social media presence and sharing information has become a regular aspect of business, more so now than ever due to the world's circumstances.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The first thing I would advise a person to think about is the fact that there are actually three business model's consultants, nonprofit and for-profit business; think about which one you want to open.
The second thing is to think about how much money you can invest upfront without clients or a source of revenue for your ongoing business. If you're unsure of this answer, I would recommend starting with a consulting license because it is free. Whatever money you put into the business moving forward past that license is all towards growth.
The third piece of advice I would give a person looking to open a business is twofold (1) you must have a clear idea of your business concept and all aspects of it. (2) If you are to go for a nonprofit or for-profit business, whether it is people you are hiring on a lower level or people who are hiring on a higher level up, remember each one of those individuals represents your business and, therefore, your integrity. So, choose them wisely and carefully.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you want to impact change in California, get out there and get active and interact with your legislative representatives. We still live in a democracy, and the basis of this system still exists. Don't be afraid to be the one to engage in change.
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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