Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jill Morris-Smith, Founder of The Savvy Servant, located in Huntersville, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called The Savvy Servant, which provides coaching and consulting to nonprofits to help them secure 6-figure grant funding.
Tell us about yourself
I started The Savvy Servant because I saw a need. I served as a program manager for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Federal government) for ten years. I monitored nonprofit grantees that received our funding, as well as reviewed grant proposals from nonprofits competing for our funding. I heard of new and smaller nonprofits doing great work in their communities but lacking the expertise to grow their organizations and write effective grant proposals. In 2011, I stepped out on faith by leaving my "good government job" to provide consulting services that would fit nonprofit budgets. My motivation comes from my client's outcomes of impacting lives.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is helping two young moms turn their vision of helping other young moms achieve self-sufficiency by starting a nonprofit called Lean On Us Unity. I met with these two women in 2012. Today, their nonprofit is a 7-figure venture with strong partnerships and funding and 15 full-time employees. My other accomplishment is securing multiple grant funding for my for-profit venture.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is scaling. In the beginning, I was caught between "doing the business" and "managing the business." I am skilled at both. However, my passion is actually doing business by working hands-on with clients to achieve their outcomes. Just focusing on this part caused my business to decline. Hiring a virtual assistant to handle some of the administrative tasks helped tremendously.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top 3 tips I suggest to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business are:
- Get a mentor/coach who is skilled/successful in the line of business you're starting.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you're best at accounting and management, then hire someone part-time to handle the client/creative tasks.
- Do not be afraid to fail. Failure in business is much different than failure in life. Failure in business is part of the strategy because it allows you to see what worked and/or did not work so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
In the beginning, I started out by primarily providing public relations services for nonprofits because government funding doesn't usually cover these costs. However, I started noticing that although I could make nonprofits look good publicly, their internal structure needed a lot of help. So, I had to adjust my mission and change my name from J. Morris Public Relations to The Savvy Servant.
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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