Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business consulting and services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mark Winter, Principal CEO of WinSource Group, located in Tacoma, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a business consulting company specializing in developing high-performing sales organizations. We generally work with companies with a dedicated sales team making B2B sales. Our core verticals are the staffing industry and not-for-profits.
Tell us about yourself
Our team has decades of real-world, lived business experience. We won (and blew it) many times. We wanted to take all that experience and help others. People overcomplicate business, and we saw an opportunity to help simplify how people sell. The motivation comes from all the positive comments we get about how we help people at work and in life. "Changed the way I sell," "Changed my outlook on my role," "Helped me hit the target, finally," or even "Changed my life." When you get comments like that about the work you do, it makes you wanna leap out of bed every day!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Well, here's some advice...' Don't start a business just before a worldwide pandemic.' That said...we made it. This business was our dream, and we were hit very hard by COVID. Essentially, we went without paychecks for a year or more. We were lucky to have resources and support systems to carry us through that period, but it wasn't easy. We used that time to perfect our offering, tighten up our messaging, and stay close to our customers. In some cases, we offered free services just to keep in touch with them. Looking back now, it was a huge hurdle. Thankfully, a supportive team, good family support, and a wee bit of luck helped us through it. One of the big factors in our success and making it through COVID was sticking to a plan. At one point, when we were all feeling bad about business, one of our partners pulled our strategic plan out and said, "hey, there's nothing on here that we can't be working on right now. Let's get to it." That was a big moment for us. It wasn't perfect, but it kept us moving and moving in the right direction. Work on your plan.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The balance of it all is hard. We got into this business to help others through business challenges, but at the end of the day, that's only part of the business. There's all the back-end stuff like running the books, marketing, managing the market, travel, and everything else. Running a single business is more like having 3 or 4 part-time gigs and trying to juggle it all. You spend time driving in customers; then you shift to working with them; then you shift to some internal focus. It's an ongoing cycle that can make you feel like you're on a hamster wheel. We got a lot out of the book The E-Myth Revisited. It helped us stay organized and focused in the right areas at the right time.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Focus: It's ok to say no to things. In fact, you have to. Many new businesses die of indigestion rather than starvation. They try to be all things to all people.
- Communication: Even the people closest to me sometimes don't understand what I do. That means my messaging has to be super simple and super clear. My value prop has to be on point, I have to be able to call out exactly what I do, and I have to specifically ask for what I want from folks; otherwise, it won't get done.
- Customer Focus: Always. There is nothing else that takes priority. Ask "how can I help" as often as you can. Jump in and take action when appropriate. The money always works itself out if you take care of customers first.
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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