Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Neil Gordon, Founder of Neil Gordon Consulting, Inc., located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a communication consultant, I help experts overcome what I call "The Expert's Curse," which means they talk about their expertise from their perspective rather than their audiences. However, it's not their fault that this happens. As a result of the curse, they're out there trying to attract others to their vision through speaking, books, articles, podcast appearances, and everything else, and they hear crickets. They get polite applause at the end of their talks but little interest; they don't sell their books. Despite having a powerful insight into a different way of solving a problem, they're beating their head against the wall trying to get others to take them seriously and work with them.
Tell us about yourself
I was an abysmal English student growing up, with a 330 verbal score the first time I took the SATs. But I discovered reading at the end of college. I went through a significant worldview shift as a result of reading one novel in particular (A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving). Because this shift came from reading, I became immensely curious about language and what made some languages more compelling than others. Within a couple of years of that happening, I got an entry-level position at the book publishing company Penguin. This started me on the communication track I'm on now. I persist with this work because I have come to realize how much more can be achieved when people make their communication accessible to others.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My current client was stuck in getting her vision out into the world, having little more than a boutique coaching business consisting only of her working 1-on-1 with clients. We worked to have her overcome The Expert's Curse. After giving just one 40-minute presentation, she signed several multi-six-figure contracts with major organizations and had to bring on 15 new people. With a single presentation, she 10X'd her business and is now impacting thousands.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
What the pandemic reminded me of is that nothing in life is certain. I had tremendous momentum the final two months before the pandemic, and then things cratered. And yet, just two months before everything shut down, there was little evidence that the world would come to a screeching halt. While we're all affected by uncertainty, when we work for ourselves, we're even more vulnerable to the changes that happen when that uncertainty plays out.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be absolutely religious about understanding the problem you solve AS YOUR AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES IT.
- Provide your services for free up front for a few guinea pigs to be able to collect testimonials and case studies.
- Make generous use of storytelling as a way to demonstrate the effectiveness of your products and services.
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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