Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with John Verrico, Founder of John Verrico - Share Your Fire, located in York, PA, USA.

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

Each of us has a torch—a passion—burning inside that ignites our motivation. It spreads and helps those around us keep their torches shining bright when fed. As the founder of Share Your Fire, LLC, I help create a workplace and home environment based on Trust, Opportunity, Respect, Communication, and Humanity (TORCH).

I provide training workshops, keynote speeches, and individual coaching to develop aspiring and established leaders in non-profit organizations, government agencies, schools, community groups, and companies of all sizes. "Whether in a formal leadership position or not, your actions influence and impact others around you." A simple word or deed can be the spark someone needs, douse their flame, or throw them irreparably off course.

Tell us about yourself

As someone who started as a shy, insecure, undersized youth picked on by bullies in school, I have vowed to ensure that no one would ever feel the way the bullies made me feel. I was inspired by classic monster movies, where I learned that even the little guy could win—through innovative thinking, communication, team-building, and a well-lit torch.

After school, I bounced through a zillion different jobs to find myself, everything from short-order cook to electronics technician, journalist to disco dance instructor. Every experience was an opportunity to learn and grow.

I ultimately joined the Navy and discovered my passion for building empowered, confident teams and helping others become better, more compassionate leaders. I learned how to survive tough, deceitful, and mean-spirited bully bosses (there are unfortunately many examples) and learned to emulate those who exhibited traits that encouraged us and fired our motivation (fortunately, there were also many examples).

What followed was a more than 40-year career as a communication professional focused on helping people tell their stories, realize that they matter, and ignite their torches.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As I look back over my career, there are so many proud moments I could point to, dozens of awards on the walls, articles, and books I’ve been published in, contracts I’ve closed, titles bestowed upon me, including being elected as president of the National Association of Government Communicators.

But none of those things mean a thing compared to the reward of making proper human connections and positively impacting someone. It may sound like so much fluff, but that truly is what drives me. The person who gets that glint in their eye during one of my programs indicates I’ve struck home for them something important. The smile or laughter evoked when a client has a breakthrough.

The card, email, or call I receive years later from someone updating me on their journey—a client who refers others to me because I was able to help them. The office who’s entire morale and performance improved to award-winning levels following a workshop I led that shed light on the root cause of their underlying internal conflicts and illuminated a new perspective.

All of these are the most important accomplishments of my business. It's not about the bank account. It's about the results and impacts on other people’s lives and careers.

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

Of course, the hardest thing to do as a business owner is to find the right clients and develop a relationship founded in trust. Especially in my work, there must be a great deal of trust and confidence that I can help them achieve their goals. Interestingly, in coaching, we often find that what someone thinks their destination may be completely different as we go through the discovery process.

Because of the trust needed, the best marketing is a word of mouth and referrals. Networking – good old-fashioned getting out there and meeting people – has been the most productive. But that doesn’t always go far and wide enough. And no one hires a coach or a speaker from a social media post, an ad in a newspaper, or a placemat at the diner. While paid commercials are cost-prohibitive for a small business, specially targeted radio and TV interviews are helpful, as are the opportunities to be a guest on popular podcasts. (I haven’t started my own yet but will in 2023 – watch for it!)

Another challenge is that most people don’t even realize they need a coach. Few know where to look if they consider bringing an outside speaker or trainer for their event or staff retreat.

While finding customers is the most complex challenge, in close second place for a small business is finding the time to serve the clients once they’ve signed on. This is incredibly challenging since I am the only product I sell. There is no income revenue if I am not available to speak at an event or meet with a coaching client. Sick days, vacations, and pop-up emergencies all take their toll.

So I am developing ways to diversify my offerings and produce some on-demand type training videos that are more general and provide foundational information that we can build upon when a client signs on for deeper learning. But what I need to do is create a standard sales funnel. I hate being sold to that way and cannot see putting others through that. 😉

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

If I were to advise anyone looking to start a business today, I would recommend three things:

Have faith: Starting and maintaining a business takes work. Don’t listen to the statistics that note how many new businesses fail each year. It’s true, but that is because people get disillusioned. If you are passionate about what you do, then go for it, but remember not to rely on things to take off immediately. Have something else going that can support you while you build, then jump.

Be humble: Ask for reasonable prices – don’t undersell yourself. You know what you are worth, but be aware also what the market will bear. In the speaking and coaching industry, I have known many who have failed because they said, “I won’t step out the door for less than $xxxx.” That may be fine, but you’ll never step out the door if no one is paying that. Be responsive to customers.

No matter what product or service you provide, do so on time, with a smile, and within the agreed-upon price. Most importantly, Be Honest: Don’t overpromise what you or your product can do. The minute you compromise your integrity, everything is lost. You may get away with a few extra bucks here or there, but your reputation will soon catch up with you and destroy any prospects.

The last thought -- learn something new every day. Every experience offers us an opportunity to learn and grow. We only know what we are missing if we are willing to try new things. If something fails, learn from it, and move on, adjusting to the lessons you’ve learned. Nothing should be beneath you to do. The more you do, the more you try, and the better you understand your chosen profession, how your product or service interacts with other products and services, and how you can best serve others. You don’t have to blow out someone else’s torch to make yours burn brighter. Imagine how colorful the world would be if we all Shared our Fire.

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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