This week we have a special client spotlight on Marilyn Walker of Synergize!, a consulting company that helps other companies hire and retain better employees. Synergize! is located in Lancaster, PA and has built better teams of employees for companies throughout the country.
What professional experiences led you to start your business?
There were two significant experiences that led to my decision to start my own business. The first was that I was quite abruptly, with no warning, fired from a position as the regional director of a national non-profit child welfare organization. Ten years later I can guess at the reasons but there were never any performance issues identified and I had great evaluations and organizational support so it really pulled the rug out from underneath me.
The second was that I was working essentially as a contractor with a business doing consulting work and every year the business owner and I would discuss the following year’s goals. At the end of 2008 it was clear that we were going in two different directions and had different expectations so we both decided it was time for me to venture out on my own.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are two big challenges that have been difficult to overcome. The first is a general lack of knowledge about business. I had been in the non-profit world as an employee and had a lot to learn about how business works – especially the finances. The second is that in spite of how confident other people may think I appear I often need to remind myself that I really do know something, and that I can run a business and be successful.
The most rewarding aspects of having my own business would be a long list! At the top is that this is my business. It is my vision. My mission. My value system. And I don’t have to fit in to somebody else’s idea. Nobody tells me what to do, how to do it or when. The second is the creativity inherent in being a business owner. I create strategy, tactics, workshops. I write about and present important topics to people who want to learn about them. I am creative and there’s lots of opportunity to exercise that when you own a business! The next one would be setting my own hours and schedule. Of course, there’s a huge benefit to being able to do work at 10:00 PM in my pj’s but there is a down side to that, too!
What resources have you found most useful?
There are numerous community business resources helpful for any new business.
I set up my LLC on my own and did not do as thorough a job with all of the details required in making a new business compliant. Mike has helped me to understand what’s needed and why, and he’s pointed out the details that I didn’t bother to pay attention to! In addition to Mike’s help completing the details of my LLC he also helped me set up my first employee on a payroll. I had tried to do this in my own but became overwhelmed by the details and the process. It was not overwhelming to Mike and he took care of the whole thing.
What advice would you give to other small business owners?
1. Get a business coach! I would not be where I am today if it had not been for my business coaches – one who helped me start my business and establish a good foundation and the other who helped me fine-tune what I started and strengthen the foundation.
2. If you don’t have a business coach make sure you are accountable to somebody – besides yourself!
3. Identify where you are your own worst enemy – and get out of your way!
Get in touch with Marilyn!