Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tara Servilio, Founder of Root & Reach Consulting LLC, located in Wiscasset, ME, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is partnering with people to craft the way they do business, from defining to implementation. I use the word "craft" because I am focused on and determined to support people in seeing their part in business, whether they are "accidental" entrepreneurs or working for someone else, my goal is to make business expertise and know-how accessible and relevant, and further than that, my goal is to support people in investing in doing business in a way that amplifies business as a source of good - good for them, good for their local communities, good for their local economies. I work with small businesses and larger organizations and am lucky to work with a lot of different types and sizes of businesses (from farming to real estate to acupuncture to universities to makers and artists, I am privileged to be front seat to an expansive world of business!).
Tell us about yourself
I first got started in business from day one. My family owns a business in the small Oregon town I grew up in, so it's been front and centers my whole life. As an adult, I traveled and moved around a lot - just out of curiosity and a sense of wanting to understand what was out there. What I found were endless possibilities. From the way we live to the way we do business, even what kinds of businesses are possible, I found there is no limit to creativity, and there is no one size fits all to how we build our lives and businesses. And this is exactly what motivates me each day. The people I get to work with, small business owners and leaders in larger organizations, show me every single day what motivation looks like and what it can yield. I work hard because the people I work with work hard. To see inside the day-to-day of small business owners, their challenges, their resiliency, and their determination is to see something truly amazing. I want to be part of that, every day.
After I settled down a little bit from moving around and traveling, I got a job in a large corporation in NYC. I learned a ton there, but ultimately that wasn't for me. During COVID, we took the opportunity to move from NYC to Midcoast Maine, and that's when I wound down my corporate career and ramped up my focus on starting my business consultancy. I was getting approached by some organizations to put together learning programs on topics such as scaling for small businesses, developing strategies, and building out operating models. I took those opportunities and ran with them. A few requests turned into a whole business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner to date is that l still exist as a business, and I didn't throw in the towel early on. In the beginning, it was intimidating - can I do this? Should I do this? What if I am no good at this? - the transition from a corporate structure to being completely on my own and in charge of everything was more of a shock than I realized it would be. For the first few months after I started my business, I was not inclined to really OWN anything - decisions, interactions, etc. - I was still kind of waiting for someone to tell me what to do. The accomplishment is - I became part of a community of other small business owners, and this was monumental for me as it provided a support network. It helped me to stick with it and see that nobody else was going to carry my confidence and authority in my business except me. On a side note - my other accomplishment is that I have grown my work and client base tremendously through deepening my relationships. I am not a volume-based business; I am a relationship and results-based business. If I don't have the capacity to dedicate my thinking and time to a client or project, I won't take it on. I want to keep my workload and my client roster at a point where everyone gets the best of me because that's how I tap into the best of them. By structuring my business model to low and small growth, I have a business that is intentional. That's better for me than trying to grow into a big business just for the sake of being big. There's a place for really large, name-brand consulting firms, and I am not trying to occupy that place. I occupy a very different place in the world.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Among many hard things, one that stands out is the fear of failure. There are so many ways things can possibly fail...what if the client isn't happy with my work? What if money doesn't come in? What if there is no client work coming in at all? What if everybody hates me! All of that can mean the difference between the mortgage getting paid or not. It's not up to anyone but me to ensure I have cash flow. The fear of that can be hard to work through sometimes!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just START. Start wherever, however you can.
- You won't get to really know your business, what it is, what it should be, who it should serve, and what it should offer for at least a good year or more. That's why JUST START is key. Get things moving so you can start the journey of assessing, refining, and differentiating!
- Take your own advice over others, and trust yourself. It's never a bad thing to have a support network, lean on community, and have trusted advisors, but at the end of the day, your voice needs to be loudest for you. You are the one that truly knows what you're trying to do, why, and what that looks like. You can always learn more, so for sure, always learn more! But, when it comes to crafting what you want your business to be, defer only to yourself. There are so many ways to run a business; find the way that is uniquely yours!
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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