Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kelly Berry, Founder and Owner of Learn Start Grow LLC., located in Altoona, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of consulting, training and running peer groups for small business owners, it’s that there is never enough time to get all the ‘things’ done that they’d like to get done. My online business, Learn Start Grow, was created to help those busy, growth-minded owners. I offer consulting, courses, and access to a community of entrepreneurs. Save time and stay informed with curated news relevant to small business owners -only a weekly five-minute commitment. Meet monthly with your peers to share problems, make decisions and hold each other accountable. And take asynchronous workshops that are shared in small pieces with actionable steps, like my Digital Marketing for Skeptics course.
My customers are small business owners and solopreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses and who recognize the value of community. My focus is really on ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ - owners of small businesses that don’t get lots of recognition but work hard every day to grow the business and support their customers and their employees.
Tell us about yourself
I have been working with start-ups and entrepreneurs since 2005. I started my original consulting business to give me more work flexibility than my teaching job at the local university offered - as I was busy raising two young kids, and my husband was traveling for work regularly.
I specialize in market research, strategic planning, and marketing planning. After working with hundreds of businesses as a consultant, I started to see common issues, regardless of the type of business. That is what motivated me to start Learn Start Grow in 2020. I am passionate about helping small businesses grow through research, peer groups, and training. I get up every day thinking about how I can connect businesses together to make a difference for each business owner I work with.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I run Business Owner Roundtable Groups – with business owners who typically have $1 to $30M in annual revenue. These business owners have become some of my biggest supporters, which makes me very proud. I love that they commit to monthly half-day meetings with their peers despite their crazy busy schedules. And I love that they know they will come away from every meeting learning something new and likely also helping their peers. It’s a privilege to be in the room with them, facilitating the conversations!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is feeling somewhat isolated as I work to run my small business on my own. I don’t have a C-Suite helping me follow the latest trends, examine my financials, or decide when or who to hire for extra help. It’s all on my shoulders.
Sometimes it would be nice for someone to just tell me what to do next! Of course, I left the business world so that no one could actually do that, so I guess I don’t really mean it. But I know that the business owners I work with often feel the same way, which is why running peer groups and creating an online community of business owners is so important to me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Take care of the “boring stuff” at the very beginning – legal, accounting, insurance. Make sure you have an owners/buy-sell agreement if you have any partners and that you understand the tax and liability issues that go along with your particular business.
- Find a Mastermind group. Look for your peers that are in a similar stage as you and plan to meet regularly (in person or virtually) to share your wins, your failures, your worries, and your goals. It makes a huge difference to have others who really get what you’re going through and are there to support you and hold you accountable.
- Set up informational interviews with prospective customers – but don’t sell to them! It is so important to establish ongoing conversations with your target customers – and also your key referral sources. Start things off right by scheduling short (20-30 min) interviews to learn more about their issues and problems as it relates to your product or service. This information is invaluable as you start promoting your business, as it helps you use the right language and connect to the problem your business is helping to solve. And you might find that these people will be ready to be customers further down the line.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
There are so many solopreneurs and small business owners out there in the world! Make sure you are looking around not only for customers and vendors/suppliers but also for peers who can help you feel less alone as you work to grow your business.
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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