Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sandy Geroux, M.S., CEO of Wowplace International, LLC, located in Wesley Chapel, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an international speaker, trainer, and author on the topics of leadership, customer service, and staff motivation and training. I serve the corporate, association, and government markets, helping leaders, front-line customer service representatives, and administrative professionals create WOW experiences for themselves and everyone around them.
Tell us about yourself
I spent almost 20 years in the corporate environment, after which I became a REALTOR. Once I got to top producer status, my coach asked me to come to his training programs and serve on his top producer panels. Through that process, I realized that I love speaking and training, and people seemed to connect with what I had to say, so I joined him in business. Although the partnership didn't last, my love for speaking and training did. And here I am, 23 years later, still doing what I love, although I have switched from real estate training to leadership, customer service, and motivational speaking and training. What motivates me every day is the fact that I have worked for many years with associates at the mid and front-line service level who feel their leaders don't know them, don't care to know them, don't appreciate what they do, and won't give them opportunities to engage. These employees are often dedicated workers who just feel beaten down and discouraged. They are unsure of where to turn, who to talk to, and how to use their gifts to help the company thrive and feel fulfilled. On the other hand, I have also worked with many leaders who wish their people would volunteer more, contribute at a higher level and show more enthusiasm for their work. They don't understand why their people won't use the tools that are provided to them. They won't offer helpful suggestions and won't do anything "over and above" to help make the workplace better or even satisfy their customers. Leaders feel that their employees are coming to work, doing just barely enough to get by (and not get themselves fired), and then going back to what they consider their "real lives" after they leave the workplace. And these two groups often exist within the same company! So, I love connecting the dots to allow team members to find opportunities to contribute and help leaders provide those opportunities for them in order to help the entire organization succeed and thrive.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is that I have been able to impact thousands of workers in hundreds of workplaces and help them become more engaged, fulfilled, and happy with their work and their careers. When I hear that I'm making things better for people – not only in their workplaces but in their lives, there is no better feeling in the world! One woman actually used those words when talking to me after a customer service training program I did that helped their organization save a $2M client who was ready to walk. She said, "When you came and did what you did, things got better!" They even started winning customer service awards that they had never won before. WOW – so exciting! And when individuals tell me they're looking at a situation differently as a result of something I've said and then tell me later on of the positive results they're getting, I know I'm making a positive impact on my small portion of the world. If we can all do that in our own small ways, imagine what our world would be like!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
At first, it's the uncertainty - whether the business will succeed, the fluctuations in your income, the lack of a corporation behind you providing benefits and stability, those are very difficult, as any entrepreneur will attest. But once you get into a rhythm or flow - consistent prospecting, honing your skills and services, and following through, it's much better. However, sometimes it is a lonely business, so it's important to cultivate relationships along the way with people who can lift you up (and vice versa) when the going gets tough or just lonely.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
One of the tips I can share is to have a mastermind group, a mentor, or a coach who can not only help you brainstorm crucial ideas and products but who can help you get back on track when things go wrong. As I mentioned, owning your own business can sometimes be very lonely –, and when things go wrong, and you start slamming yourself, you need an objective person to help you remember all the good things that are happening and not let you get sidetracked from creating your success. It's also helpful to know that someone else who cares about you is going to have to be told that you didn't/couldn't get your vital success-related tasks done because you were permanently de-motivated by what should have been a temporary setback.
Another tip is to never, never, never forget that this is a business – or you won't have a business for long. You must make time in the day for prospecting and marketing (or at least have some way of generating leads on a regular basis). The only way to get off the sales roller coaster (where you work hard to get business, but then you're so busy fulfilling the business you get that you don't have time to get new leads, so you come crashing down and have no business and have to start all over again at square one) is to keep a continual focus on the sales and leads funnels you're creating. And unless you're willing to wait a very long time for success, marketing alone is not sufficient. You must also focus on sales-generating activities.
Third, you must be extremely disciplined with your time, especially if you work in a home office. You must treat your home office as if you were in an outside office and focus your workday on work activities. It's very tempting to notice something in the house that "absolutely needs to be done" (so you can avoid those work-related things you hate to do… like sales calls). And before you know it, the day is gone, and you have nothing profitable to show for it because you've been too busy checking email or doing "research" - basically "getting ready to get ready to get ready." At some point, we have to just go and do something – and tweak later if necessary.
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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