This story is about…
Female Entrepreneur: Trudy Van Buskirk
What she does: she helps women to start and run businesses
Why she does it: because she dreamed of having her own business
Age range: 60s
What motivated you to start your business?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Even as a child and later when I was a teacher, I dreamed of having my own business. So at 30 (I was born in 1950 so you don’t have to guess my age) I left teaching and started a business. I co-owned one of the first Apple computer dealerships in Canada – and had employees! My BA and MEd (I had been a teacher) had nothing to do with computers or with starting or running a business.
Tell us about your business…
Currently I help boomer women to start and run their own businesses.
And I’ve owned several over the 30+ years I’ve been in business. I’ve …
Co-created and built two companies from the ground up – one of the first Apple computer dealerships in Toronto (1980-89) (that’s why I’m still a Macintosh user) and a market development company in San Francisco that designed and produced national conferences and trade shows (300 to a maximum of 2000 attendees) in the mobile and wireless industry (1994-1998). Both were at the “bleeding edge” of technology.
Consulted, coached and mentored 100′s of startup and existing small business owners in marketing their business online and offline.
Developed and taught training seminars on a wide variety of topics for small business from planning to marketing and sales.
Consulted with small business owners and professionals on projects to review and revise company operating procedures including marketing strategies and programs, sales and service procedures, computer technology, inventory control and distribution.
Been a founding director of four associations for business and education in Canada and the U.S.
All of them show my interest in and subsequent knowledge of and experience in the areas of small business, teaching/ training, technology and event planning and implementing. My knowledge has come not from formal education but from passion, perseverance and risk. I’ve been self-taught in business but my training and experience as a teacher provided me with many skills.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Business and life have given me great success and I’m very thankful for this. Over the years there have been many obstacles to overcome – my diagnosis in 1978 with a rare blood disorder (life threatening but not debilitating that required me to receive over 35 blood transfusions over the years), my stroke in 2005 and many others both emotional and physical. Some are ongoing like the effects of my strokes.
Nothing impacted my business until the stroke in 2005. It’s taking me a long time to re-start my business but nothing stops me!
How did you overcome these challenges?
Attitude is everything …
I came through each because of my attitude – I always asked for help when I needed it, took risks, and looked for the benefit that came from each problem. You see, I saw each one as an obstacle to reaching my goals. I believe that it’s my positive approach and outlook to life that aids me in helping my clients.
Many people have survived physical problems in their lives but I still live with the current outcomes of several strokes in 2005 (I talk “funny”, my right hand is spastic and my balance is poor) but they affect my life less than they could (or should!). Thank goodness that technology has progressed so much. It allows me to communicate with clients all over the world – and SEE them, too (via skype).
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
Most Effective Way to Get Clients…
RELATIONSHIPS! They have been the best way I have got new clients.
Before I had the stroke in 2005, I was a speaker and trainer and got all my clients that way – they experienced me and what I could do for them.
But since I’ve had the stroke which left me with a “funny” speaking voice, I’ve had to learn how to attract people with my blog, website, articles … in other words online so I’m still learning.
I’ve found though, that the relationships I made before the stroke really matter. When I email or call someone they remember ME … not me with my “funny” voice now but they’re able to see what I can do and not how I am physically.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Entrepreneurship is like dating. You only go out for a coffee the first time … then lunch .. then several dinners … maybe a movie. It’s not until much later that he asks you to marry him.
So don’t ask for the sale right away. Get to know someone first — through your newsletter or blog .. or call them up and meet for coffee. If they feel that you’re the one who they want to buy from .. then sell.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Everyone has difficult times. I believe it has always been my positive attitude – I always asked for help when I needed it, took risks, and looked for the benefit that came from each problem. You see, I saw each one as an obstacle to reaching my goals. I believe that it’s my positive approach and outlook to life that aids me in helping my client.
Who inspires you?
Richard Branson, Sara Blakely of “SPANX” fame and many others :-)
Do you have a business philosophy?
Ask for what you need. Don’t listen to “naysayers”. Ask your clients what they want and then be sure you give it to them.
Get in touch…
Facebook Fanpage: trudyvanbuskirk