Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Walter McDonald, Founder and President of McDonald Group, Inc., located in Arlington Heights, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is management training, publication of management textbooks, and business consulting. Our clients are some of the largest equipment manufacturers in the world. These include Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu, Kubota, Bobcat, Ditch Witch, Vermeer, Elgin Sweeper, Raymond Material Handling, Crown, Clark, Mitsubishi Caterpillar, Hyster, Yale, Kenworth, Freightliner, Peterbilt, Volvo Truck, MACK, and Trimble Navigation Instruments.

Tell us about yourself

I began my career selling, programming, and installing business computers after a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy and graduating cum laude from Louisiana State University. I really enjoyed digging into business systems. During my career, I advanced from Sales and Product Management to Marketing Management and, finally, General Manager of a $130mm electronics distributor. During this time, I designed and presented several management programs for the American Management Association in Chicago. I was recruited by a boutique Management Consulting firm specializing in management training. After a short period, I realized this was my dream career and was encouraged by a client to go out on my own because they disliked my employer. So, over the next nearly 50 years, I've researched and presented over 2,500 management development programs from Jakarta and Hong Kong to Chicago, Toronto, Manchester, UK, and Brussels.

My joy today is watching 2nd, and even 3rd-generation managers whom I've helped in some small way become more successful.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Well, in addition to my global seminar work and reputation as an equipment industry management resource, I am most happy with the recent publication of my 10th book in our "Master's Program in Machinery Dealer Management."

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Focus and discipline.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Pick a narrow specialty in which you can be really good and very much enjoy.
  2. Control expenses and build a customer base of those willing to pay a premium for quality work.
  3. Maintain integrity/truthfulness and build deep relationships with those who will recommend you.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You must find and maintain a balance between three pillars or foundations in your life: personal growth and development, family life, and work ethic. To be really successful, you must do all three well.

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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