Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tracey Bryant Stuckey, Master NBCT Coach, based in Hemingway, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I provide professional development to teachers going through National Board Certification or Maintenance of Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. I also provide school districts with.
Tell us about yourself
As a teacher for 31 years, I have always had a passion for growing and learning. In fact, in 1998, I decided to embark on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards process to become a National Board Certified Teacher. This distinction would provide me with more opportunities in the profession and would ensure I was performing at the highest level of teaching. After earning this certification in 1999, the opportunities for becoming a leader in professional development in my state (South Carolina) began to unfold.
I seized every opportunity to grow, and one, in particular, led me to learn more about the world of business. I was intrigued by how the business world worked, as I had begun to notice the differences in the way our students were showing up at school. These students were more curious, less focused during "old-fashioned" teaching, and dependent on technology for answers to their questions or as a way to fill their free time. I knew that education would have to change. Teachers would have to change. How learners learn would definitely change.
It was during an Education in Industry field trip that I believe I was first "bitten" by the entrepreneurial bug. I couldn’t believe the difference between the business world and the world of education. Was one better or worse? It was so hard to say. I wanted to vote for education as the clear winner, but I knew in my heart that education was light years away from readying students to be a part of what I witnessed during that two-day event. As the industry leaders told me about the jobs that they would need in just five years, I felt nauseous knowing that most students would probably not be prepared for those jobs. I wondered what I could do to change this fact.
In order to be an agent for change, I took what I knew and what I was good at, which was teaching teachers, and did a business out of it. I began helping universities revamp their preservice teacher programs. I worked with school districts to offer support classes to help teachers reach a higher level of instructional practice, which would, in turn, support students in being ready for these 21st-century jobs. All of this work was completed on a small contractual basis that wasn’t making me rich with dollars but was preparing me with skills that would help me become more successful as a nationwide teacher coach in 2020.
I’m motivated every day by the thought of robots being used more often than the brains of humans in our workforce because we neglected to improve the executive functioning skills and abilities of our most precious resource. I’m dedicated to supporting teachers in knowing what the business world needs from our students and how we can empower our students to learn and think at a deeper level while also taking charge of their own learning.
Teachers have the most important job in this world, and I intend to be at the forefront of the redefining of education as we have always known it. This includes helping teachers know their worth and helping students embrace critical thinking, problem-solving, and college or career readiness skills.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
After opening a private Facebook group in November 2019, I was able to reach a six-figure income in just 18 months, almost exclusively by using free and word-of-mouth advertising in an online business setting. In fact, I am able to fill a jet plane with YouTube followers and will soon be able to monetize on YouTube. All of this while I have been doing what I love, teaching teachers to grow big for their students! The work I do is changing the face of education as teachers are reaching the highest certification in the United States—the National Board Certification for Teachers.
I am proud of the work I have done to support teachers during one of the toughest periods of time in modern education, the COVID-19 school shutdown. Instead of sitting at home and waiting for schools to reopen, I went online and helped teachers grow into the technological educators they are today. I continued to move the needle for students by impacting their teachers.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is the number of hats you have to wear and how those hats change when you are going through a growth phase in your business. Learning to be an accountant, marketing manager, public relations coordinator, technology specialist, researcher, content developer, salesperson, and so many more can sometimes feel exhausting.
Thankfully, I am able to embrace these roles as blessings provided to make me smarter and more successful in the future. It would be easy to outsource all of these (for a cost), but it is so rewarding when I master a new role and see the fruit of my labor grow into sales and new opportunities. I feel like I am doing what I want the students I teach to do-grow through solving problems and thinking critically and creatively.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, I would tell future business owners that it really doesn’t take that much money to own your own business. Many times, the fear of not being able to fund a business causes people to shy away from becoming entrepreneurs. I’ve learned over the years that bootstrapping and maintaining a simplistic start to the business is a surefire way to stay in business for the long term. It’s like anything in life; it doesn’t start where it will eventually end. Enjoy the journey, and the funds will show up when you need them.
Second, know your ideal client and the problems they need you to solve for them. Everyone will not be your customer. In fact, it is entrepreneurial suicide to hustle to sell to the masses instead of focusing on the ideal customer that is looking for you. This is often only 3–4% of the people who fit into your niche. It is your job to ensure these clients can see your joy in the work you do. Show up each day with the confidence that you have the answers your ideal customers need and the energy that makes them want to buy from you!
Third, read, read, and read more. Listen and know what people are saying and watching in your niche. Know your competitors as well as you know your own business. What void is there in your niche that you can fill with your own product or service? This is the start of your business plan. Develop your public relations plan as you build your business, and you will not be lost in the noise of the competition.
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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