Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in consultancy but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Gross, Owner of Michael J Gross, LLC, located in Owensboro, KY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is to help organizations achieve their objectives, manage risks, and continually improve. I specialize in organizational management system development, implementation, support, and training focused on safety, environmental, and quality (ISO 45001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 13485, IATF 16949). I assist organizations whether they are looking to certify compliance with international standards, maintain their existing certifications, or those who wish to simply conform to standards to experience the benefits of a well-organized management system.
Every organization has a management system for providing its products and services. I specialize in making them more effective.
Tell us about yourself
I had a brief experience many years ago as a contract employer in developing a quality management system for an organization and recognized I wanted to do more of this type of work on my own once my children were grown. It has been a plan for many years. I embarked on 20 years in an executive role in another organization to further develop my skills as a leader and mentor and really gain an appreciation of the challenges organizations face.
I'm a teacher and coach at heart, and I get great satisfaction in working with organizations in developing their systems and also in developing their people to understand and operate these systems effectively. I'm privileged to now work with several organizations with diverse processes, products, and services. I'm able to continually learn from these experiences, which makes me a more effective teacher and coach.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I started about nine months before the onset of the pandemic and made it through. I used the slow down to add to my credentials and diversify my offerings which have now really begun to pay off. I am qualified to provide and teach accredited personnel certification courses, which is now my favorite aspect of my services.
I remain convinced that every challenge presents a new opportunity if it is recognized.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I'm currently a solopreneur offering professional services. So my challenges are identifying organizations interested in my services and keeping work steady from month to month. I also need to allow myself time for continued professional development, administrative work, and personal downtime.
Most effective for me has been to develop a web presence with some limited advertising and networking, networking, networking! Diversifying to be able to offer and teach personnel certification training to members of several organizations at the same time has also helped to stabilize work opportunities.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Work with someone with good experience to develop a realistic 3-5 year business plan. Understand your potential client base, the space intends to operate, your competition, your business's differentiation, and what you plan to offer. Planning is not a guarantee for success but will help you determine if your dream is realistic or maybe needs some modification to achieve your ultimate goals.
- Get involved in your local chamber, business or trade organizations, etc., and make those connections! Get your information out as far and wide and as quickly as possible. Many of these organizations charge a fee which seems like an expense, but I view it as an investment. It is a cheap form of advertising. Plus, you will find a lot of very good advice from other executives and entrepreneurs.
- Be ready to be patient starting off. Particularly in professional services, it takes time to develop a client base. Account for this time in a realistic business plan and ensure you have resources available to help you through the startup.
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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