Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in organizational development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ryan Stelzer, Co-Founder of Strategy of Mind, located in Boston, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a global strategic communications and organizational development firm that helps companies perform better through a unique blend of workshops, scalable executive coaching, core consulting services, and keynote speaker events. Our goal is to unlock the elements of a high-performing, narrative-based organization.
We serve businesses at the top of the Fortune 50 and emerging startups eager to grow. We work across industries and continents, delivering bespoke programs that suit the individual needs of our client partners.
Tell us about yourself
Prior to launching the firm with my business partner Dr. David Brendel, I worked in consulting for a large organization. It felt like the consulting industry was backward, though. I'd always watch "experts" come in and tell a business owner or manager what they were doing wrong. But the reality is that successful business owners and managers got to be successful because they knew what they were doing in the first place. Sure, we can all get lost along the way, and it can be helpful to bring in an objective voice or unique perspective to help extract that expertise.
I thought consulting ought to shift away from telling and move instead into asking the right questions. Consultants should serve as thought partners and collaborators with business leaders, not directors. That's what motivates me - seeing the lightbulb go off over a client's head as a result of our conversation.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In the early years, I would have said survival. And while that's still true, I'm immensely proud of our book "Think Talk Create: Building Workplaces Fit for Humans." The book is a counter-narrative for restoring humanity to the bottom-line, numbers-obsessed culture of the modern, 21st-century workplace. Seeing that book on the shelf of my local Barnes & Noble was surreal.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It has to be the uncertainty. When I worked as an employee for that large firm, I had a colleague warn me that "it's hard to eat only what you kill." Not exactly a pleasant metaphor, but the message is true. Knowing that you'll only be able to afford groceries next month if Client A or Client B renews their contract can be stressful, to say the least.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Disconnect the success of the business from your value as a human being. There is a mental health epidemic in entrepreneurship because founders tend to view their self-worth through the balance sheet of their business. But nothing could be further from the truth. You are not your business, and your business is not you.
- Don't ever think you've got it all figured out. Pivoting is one of the most valuable skills an entrepreneur can have, and knowing when to pivot is both an art and a science. But nevertheless, you still have to be willing to pivot.
- Talk to as many people as you possibly can. Or, as the saying goes, "feet to the pavement." You're not going to learn from clients by sitting in the garage tinkering all day. Get feedback, fail early, and keep moving forward.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.