Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Constance Thurmond, Founder of Kora Insights, located in New York City, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Kora Insights is a management consulting firm that provides business development, operations, and analytics capabilities to mission-driven organizations in order to measurably improve lives. We partner with nonprofits, businesses, institutions, funders, and individuals to:
- Create and improve programs, messaging, and pitch decks
- Produce and support philanthropic and entrepreneurial ecosystem-building events
- Analyze data to drive business development and partnership opportunities
Please check out our website for examples of our clients and work.
Tell us about yourself
In 2014, I started volunteering with a nonprofit dedicated to survivors of human trafficking. As I partnered closely with the Executive Director to fundraise, advocate, and provide community-based education, I was exposed to the dynamic challenges leaders face when balancing their impact with countless operational responsibilities. Our Executive Director was simultaneously managing fundraising, board development, volunteer recruitment, and programming on a small budget, carrying out the responsibilities of four different roles in one. Once I transitioned to work in business development and operations for two different social ventures, whose primary clients were nonprofit organizations, many of the same challenges and themes reemerged.
To address this challenge, I began working in an independent capacity with a number of organizations—ranging from a national member-based scientific nonprofit to a seed-stage software company supporting local chefs during the pandemic—in order to make operations functions more efficient and in alignment with core values. Kora Insights allowed me to expand my consulting capabilities and meaningfully collaborate with teams that are investing in social change. What excites me is accelerating and connecting change-makers, learning more about different models and methods for improving broken systems, and positioning each of my clients for their unique version of success. When they win, we all win.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being introduced to and selected to partner with the Platform for Social Impact (PSI) to create tailored messaging, communications, and collateral for prospective funders. PSI is positioned to be Puerto Rico’s most impactful investor and operator of direct services for reducing child poverty outside of the government by 2032. They are committed to championing economic mobility, beginning with a 111,723 sq. foot mixed-use facility called The Oasis, which will provide healthcare, education, workforce, and business services to families. This ambitious and innovative project is an excellent demonstration of what it takes to make poverty eradication a reality, and I am certain that it will be replicated across Puerto Rico and around the world. Knowing that I’ve played a small part in this effort is a powerful reminder that the work I do is contributing to collaborative systemic change.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
At this stage of the business, I am learning to budget additional time for internal operational needs, many of which are unexpectedly time-consuming. At the very beginning, this included learning what software to use to manage contracts and billing. Now, I am refining my internal system for managing client projects and ensuring our tools are user-friendly. Given the vast array of products and pricing in the market, it can be difficult to determine which will be most suitable for internal and external needs as we grow, and I look forward to hiring internal operational staff dedicated to this aspect of the business. For now, Notion + Bonsai will do!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get comfortable with uncertainty: Your business model may have to change, and strategies will pivot. If that’s something you may have trouble with, ask yourself, “Why?”. Anxiety can often be reframed as excitement.
- Explore free business resources and find a mentor at score.org, which provides mentorship, resources, and education.
- Get plugged into local affinity groups (school, fraternities, etc.) and volunteer, attend networking events, etc. Professional connections are fortified when prospective partners share common interests or affiliations.
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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