Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Randall Dean, Owner of Randall Dean Consulting and Training, LLC, located in East Lansing, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have been a freelance professional speaker and trainer now for more than 18 years. I started the business in 2004 with a focus on time management for MS Outlook users. I quickly added a specific focus on e-mail management, and that program became an Amazon best-selling book in 2009/2010: Taming the E-mail Beast: 45 Key Strategies for Managing Your E-mail Overload. Since then, I have also added content for Microsoft 365 app users and Google Suite/Gmail users, as well as programs on smartphone/tablet usage, distraction management, better meetings/virtual meetings, and more. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, I was averaging 75-100 client sessions per year all across North America, many with repeat clients. Since the start of the outbreak, I have switched to primarily virtual delivery and have been leading numerous live webinars and pre-recorded sessions for my clients from my home office here in East Lansing, Michigan, but I am now fully vaccinated and back to delivering live in-person and conference sessions yet again. 2022 was the closest to "back to normal" yet, so I'm quite optimistic about a full return to pre-pandemic clients and program events moving forward. I have several years of virtual delivery experience and have also created several online self-study programs on many of the topics mentioned above. I also have a popular monthly e-news with several thousand subscribers AND a popular and growing YouTube channel with many "quick tip" videos on my best tech tips. I often provide this information plus more as additional content for the attendees to my programs following their program experience. I am a member of the National Speakers Association (I received my 15-year badge last year), the Michigan Society of Association Executives, and the Florida Society of Association Executives.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been a bit obsessed with time management and related technology and devices ever since graduating from college more than 30 years ago. After working in marketing and management positions for 15+ years, many of my co-workers encouraged me to consider starting my own business to share these time and tech management techniques with others, and I've been doing just that since 2004. I just love seeing people find that one simple strategy in my session that will save them a huge amount of time and effort (although many have told me they get far more than one good idea.) Plus, I actually love getting up on stage -- I have a lot of fun with my audiences and have pretty much no stage fright -- that is a bit of a rare skill/talent in and of itself, and I have taken advantage of it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Some would say my Amazon bestseller, Taming the E-mail Beast, back in 2009. However, I think it is the amazing network of clients and collaborators I've developed, including many repeat clients and customers over the years in the university, association, corporate, and governmental sectors.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I would say the last 20+ years have been a VERY tricky time to start/own a business. In 2008, we had a big banking/market crisis and recession. Then things recovered a bit, but the polarization of our politics has become quite difficult to navigate (make one person happy, you are pretty likely to deeply anger another), and then follow that with the pandemic and lockdowns, the switch to virtual work and hybrid work, then a recovery that has led to historic inflation and a big time labor shortage, and now news that we might be heading into a recession -- whew! It can make your head spin and make it really difficult to plan for the future. You have to sort of have blinders on right now to start and run a business and just do it regardless of what is happening around you. It takes some bravery and some stubbornness, frankly, to do well in an environment like this.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- With these market conditions and rising interest rates, I'd be VERY careful taking on a lot of debt right now -- even if you have a good idea or concept, the debt might cause you a cash flow problem that could destroy your business before you have time to fully give it a chance.
- I would also avoid labor-intensive new biz ideas right now since the labor market is so tight. All your profits will go to wages, and all your time will go to staffing issues. (However, if a recession hits, we might go from a labor shortage to a labor surplus VERY quickly -- and that might be a great time to go for it!)
- But never forget #3, which is something I learned from reading an article on Bill Gates many years ago. He was asked, "Why did you decide to drop out of college to start Microsoft?" His answer was brilliant (and I am paraphrasing here): "I thought and still think business is pretty simple. Find a product that you can sell for more than it costs you to make it but that creates value for your clients and customers far in excess of the sale price. And then ramp it up." If you can find something like that, ANY TIME is a great time to start a new business.
E-mail & tech tips: https://randalldean.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/YouTube_Guide_Timelyman.pdf
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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