how she did it

Case Studies // “I maintain my full-time...

“I maintain my full-time job and run my consulting business on the side and I love it”

This story is about…

Female Entrepreneur: Cate costa

Company: Venture Catalyst Consulting

What she does: Consulting

Location: USA

Age range: 20s

What motivated you to start your business?

Both of my parents are entrepreneurs so I grew up always assuming I would eventually do my own thing.

The first time I had my own business I sort of fell into it. I had just graduated from college and didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I became a sole-proprietor and landed a gig operating one of the largest revenue departments on cruise ships. I loved the travel and the freedom, but I didn’t love the work and decided to come back to land.

Once I’d left my sea legs behind, I felt very bored and unfulfilled at the jobs I had so I decided to go back to school, get my MBA, and develop the skills to be able to sustain my own business once I figured out what it was that I wanted to do. While in the MBA program, I had the opportunity to run the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and to work with high growth companies while interning at a venture capital firm. Both experiences helped me realize that what I really love to do is help other entrepreneurs succeed, so I took a job as a Consultant with a non-profit where I assist minority-owned companies reach the next level.

However, while that 9-5 is fulfilling, I do not work with startups and I missed the energy of brand new businesses so I decided to form my own consulting company. Today I maintain my full-time job and run my consulting business on the side and I love it.

Tell us about your business…

Venture Catalyst Consulting assists exceptional small businesses in reaching their full potential through its strategic planning and fundraising services. As experts in the small business space, we understand the challenges associated with starting a company and are committed to helping entrepreneurs successfully grow their businesses. From the initial planning stages through the early investment rounds, we serve as coaches and mentors to help our clients build a business plan, find funding, execute a growth strategy, and become profitable.

What is a day in the life of you like?

A typical day for me involves checking in with clients, doing research and strategy development to help those clients achieve their goals, attending educational and networking events to stay connected to the small business world, blogging and tweeting for New Venture Mentor, and making sure I am up to date on the latest news and regulatory changes that will affect my clients.

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

My biggest challenge in running my business has been forcing myself to engage in self-promotion. I am not the type to run around and toot my own horn, so it has been difficult for me to develop a social media presence and promote myself and my business.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I haven’t completely overcome these challenges, but I try to remind myself that the service I offer helps other business owners and so it’s important to promote myself so that others can benefit from my experience.

What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?

The most effective way of getting new clients has been exceeding the expectations of current clients. Many of my clients are referred to me by other clients who are happy with what I provide them and want others to take advantage of what I have to offer.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

The biggest piece of advice I can give to other business owners is to have a plan. So many small businesses fail because the founders were too busy focusing on the day to day details to develop a sound strategy to sustain and grow the company. These entrepreneurs get caught up “working in the business” instead of “working on the business,” as the phrase goes, and this lack of strategic management eventually destroys the company.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I saw a TED lecture recently discussing how happiness leads to success, not the other way around. One of the tips for getting and staying happy included in the lecture was to identify 5 things you’re happy and/or thankful for each day. Now I have an alert set in my calendar and every morning on the way to work I remind myself what I am thankful for. That way I always start the day on a positive note.

What’s your favourite quote?

I have many quotes that I love but my favorite is probably,

“Say what you think and be who you are because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.”

I have heard many variations of this quote, so I’m not sure if the way I stated it is exactly correct, but the spirit of the quote is spot on.

Who inspires you?

Different people inspire me in different ways. If I see someone handling a situation better than I would have handled it I’m inspired to become more mature; if I see someone with more knowledge than I have, I’m inspired to learn; if I see someone giving it their all, I’m inspired to work harder…and the next day I’m inspired by something else.

Do you have a business philosophy?

My business philosophy is make sure your strategy aligns with your goals. That seems simple and obvious, but it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs don’t do it.

Get in touch…


Twitter: cate_costa

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