Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business and professional development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Crystal Richards, Principal and Owner of MindsparQ®, located in Bowie, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
MindsparQ® is a talent development consulting firm dedicated to providing training and professional development to organizations that want to improve their project management capabilities. MindsparQ®'s mission is to drive business success for clients by transforming the performance of their project management teams. We train business professionals to be better project managers.
Tell us about yourself
Like many project managers I know, I stumbled upon project management as a career. I also found a love for workplace training. Combining both talents has allowed me to create a business that gives me joy and has been very lucrative. Today many people want to be project managers, and my focus is to train people on better practice project management techniques and improve their skills so they can lead projects with clarity, courage, and confidence.
I am a certified project management professional (PMP) and a PMI agile-certified practitioner. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare management and project management working with private- and public-sector clients.
I've come to appreciate my "superpower" in helping others become better project managers by giving them the tools they need to succeed. It’s the end result of seeing their transformation into confident and courageous project managers that keeps me going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Getting MindsparQ® officially registered with the US Patent Trademark Office. With great legal counsel and patience (this was a 2-year effort at the height of the pandemic), I made it REAL and reinforced my commitment to my business—and myself. I never saw myself as entrepreneurial when I started out my career, but I am so proud of myself for building this company on my own terms.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The paperwork! Being a freelancer does not require a lot of paperwork. However, if you decide to expand your business structure and become an LLC or S-Corp, add to your payroll, obtain certifications, and increase your marketing presence with social media, my goodness, the level of paperwork is maddening. I work to give myself grace and use my project management skills to carve out time to work on the various documents and planning efforts around marketing, but it can be overwhelming. I'm super glad I partner with a social media content strategist, and I have a project manager myself. I mean, doesn't a barber have a barber??
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- What is your why?
Creating a business plan can help you determine the problem, solution, competitors, competitive advantage, and sales goals, to name a few. A lesson I learned: being niched is the key to growth.
- Know your numbers.
What does it take to run your business? What are your expenses? How much do you want to take home? Watch out for these 4 business-killing words: "It's a business expense."
- Seek wise counsel.
At some point, you may want to consider hiring a business coach to help you with focus and growth. Check your local Google listings or contact your local chamber of commerce for referrals. Mastermind groups are great too!
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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