Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ross Romano, Founder of September Strategies, located in Arlington, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
September Strategies is a consulting and strategy firm working with companies, nonprofit organizations, and leaders in the K-12 education industry. This includes edtech companies, publishers, professional development providers, communications firms, charitable organizations, media groups, and other entities whose work serves schools and educators.
We develop long-term relationships with our clients and support them through management consulting. We are integrated with organizational decision-making at all levels, as well as communications strategy, thought leadership, and storytelling.
Tell us about yourself
I describe our business as supporting leaders "from vision to decision." I'm passionate about helping mission-driven CEOs and founders identify and articulate their vision through compelling messaging and then take the strategic actions necessary to bring that vision to life.
That's often difficult in this industry, but many ambitious leaders are doing meaningful work to shape the future. They deserve to hear their stories and receive the support needed to make an impact. Working with a client is a close partnership based on mutual trust, respect, and expertise, making it a win-win for both parties. I bring my entire self -- my knowledge, my network, my motivation -- to the relationship, and my clients do the same. It's amazing what you can achieve when that's the case.
I'm also passionate, in general, about spotlighting and celebrating all the great work that happens in schools, whether it's by our educators, students, or industry partners. I've co-founded the Be Podcast Network, a network of shows designed for education leaders, through which we can showcase many of the most exciting authors and school leaders working today. I'm also the founding chair of the Excellence in Equity Awards, through which we honor educators of all roles, companies, products, and CEOs.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
First is clearly defining the work I want our company to do and who we want to work with and sticking to it. This is difficult with new (and sometimes even old) companies, and you can get stretched into unproductive directions. But you make the most significant difference when you have the right customers and collaborators.
The second part is my connections with some of my clients, colleagues, and peers. I focus a lot on my relationships, but I'm equally mindful of the relationships that would benefit others. Connecting different people within my network has led to exciting opportunities for them, and it's fulfilling to help with that.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You have to create your future. That's what makes it compelling to many people, but it's also what's difficult. Even if you're building a business that's not in a novel industry, how you're able to make it and find success has to be your way. No plug-and-play template works for everyone. Again, this is totally why most entrepreneurs do what they do -- but it does mean you're signing up to take the hard road.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Clarify your mission and values. This gives you the foundation to build the business.
- Identify your customers' pain points and discuss how you address them. This is how you can establish a value proposition.
Your messaging is essential.
- Tell your story! Many people don't feel it comes naturally. Often, they'll lament that they're "not a salesperson." But you're now the chief storyteller if you're building a business. Make sure people know about your exciting work.
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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