Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Zack Cleghorn, Founder of Star 6 Sigma Global Academy, LLC., located in Greenville, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Star 6 Sigma Global Academy is a credentialing and training organization. We support active duty military, veterans, military spouses, and industries. We offer Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, and Scrum training.
Tell us about yourself
I started this business after I got fired. I found myself at a crossroads, and I could either find another job working for someone else, or I could really try to grow my side business into a full-time thing. I first got into industry training during my time at Pitt Community College. I identified a gap where we could serve individuals to give them the training they need to advance in their careers at times that fit their schedules. I did training on the weekends in my best friend's garage and night courses over free video conferencing software.
Things really started to pick up when I met a very influential pilot in the Navy who shared my business offerings with his network. Online classes grew exponentially, as did our offerings and staff. The motivation to keep going is in the messages and emails I get when students who went through the course get pay increases or land great jobs. It also comes from the messages I get in and after class about how much a student learned or how much they enjoyed the material.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Marrying my wife, as well as being able to help veterans and service members who are transitioning out of the military. It's a big change, and it's a great feeling to be able to guide them into the civilian workforce. Our biggest accomplishment so far is our free Lean Six Sigma Yellow belt classes for active duty, veterans, and spouses.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Feeling like I have to do everything all of the time. I started this business at home, so it's the norm for me to be answering calls and emails at all hours of the day since we have students in almost every time zone. We have an intern and more wonderful support staff now, so there's a relief, but I still feel the pressure; this is my responsibility at the end of the day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be prepared to forgo sleep for a little bit. For me, I wanted to capture every potential customer and every opportunity for advice and work on everything for my business all at once. Kudos if you can establish a work-life balance right at the start.
- When developing your product or service, focus on what's most important to your potential clients. Try to see your product or service from their perspective and build around those expectations.
- Don't get down on yourself. Starting your own business is a brave endeavor, and there will be hard days. Every mistake is going to be under a microscope, and sometimes humans just mess up. Don't take mistakes personally, and really try to learn from them.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'm thankful for this opportunity to share my story! I hope it encourages others to start their own businesses.
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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