Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jay Parker, Founder, and CEO of Mentorforce, located in Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mentorforce is a corporate learning resource that delivers pragmatic, real-life guidance to team members while enabling companies to affordably scale world-class development to the entire organization. In today's environment, many companies are struggling to recruit, retain, and engage their key talent. At the same time, employees can be frustrated by the lack of development and advancement. Unfortunately, addressing these issues using traditional methods can be expensive, time-consuming, and ineffective.
Mentorforce is a game-changer. The company has recruited retired (or semi-retired) senior leaders from well-known companies who offer their experience and expertise to help improve business outcomes and career trajectories. Ambitious corporate team members can take a variety of online career masterclasses taught by these executive mentors and interact with them directly via group or private sessions. Essentially we are democratizing access to the wisdom of high-powered leaders. Mentorforce offers these services to corporate organizations of all sizes and has recently expanded to include universities that are assisting their students in making the transition from academia to the workforce.
Tell us about yourself
I spent many years as an executive leader at Fortune 100 technology companies, most recently as the President of a $50B product organization. After retiring, I continued to take calls from former colleagues who were seeking career or professional advice. That caused me to reflect on the problems I had seen during my corporate career....so many intelligent, hard-working people aspired to grow but needed more guidance than their manager could provide. At the same time, I realized there is a growing number of business leaders "retiring" early but still wanting to stay engaged and give back. Combine those two things, and the business was born. It has been very motivating to provide a service that enhances the career outcomes of so many people and, at the same time, learn the intricacies of starting a business from scratch.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It is gratifying to take an idea and turn it into a tangible reality. And nothing matches the feeling when you begin a partnership with a new customer who sees value in what you have created.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Starting a new business is a roller coaster. Some people think your idea is great. Others will give you all the reasons it won't work. One day you will win a new customer. And the next day, you will have a major technical problem. It can be difficult to maintain a steady belief, especially in the earliest stages. I believe most start-ups fail, not because the idea was necessarily bad, but because the owner either gave up or executed poorly in the face of mounting challenges.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be on the lookout for problems and challenges you see in everyday life. In every one of those, there is the potential for a new business opportunity.
- Take action. The world is full of people who see the problems. But there are far fewer people who are willing to take the risk to solve it. Don't just talk about it. Have the courage to do it.
- Stay the course. Chances are you won't be successful immediately. Believe in your idea and capability, and keep pushing through roadblocks. Eventually, you will succeed.
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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