This is “Featured Soloist,” a special feature at The Solopreneur Life.
The purpose of “Featured Soloist” is to give all of us a glimpse at how other solopreneurs operate their small businesses. This week we meet Marlene Caroselli. If you would like to be the “Featured Soloist,” please send me an e-mail, Larry@TheSolopreneurLife.com.
Name of solopreneur:
Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D.
Name of business and city:
Center for Professional Development; Pittsford, New York
Type of business:
Training services and products
When did you officially go into business?
Why did you start your own business?
I tired of corporate America and I was starting to get requests from major clients to conduct training for them.
What was the best thing you did when you were starting up your business?
Simultaneously think big but spend small. I chose a “big” name for my company so I could grow into it. But I didn’t rush out and spend thousands on letterhead stationery, flyers, business cards, business equipment, et cetera.
What is a mistake that you made that you have learned from?
When opportunity knocks, open the door. I had a request from a large firm to help them at a moment’s notice. I turned down the request — I would have had to rush to get things together then drive to the other side of Los Angeles. I knew they were desperate — the person scheduled to conduct the training had cancelled at the last minute — but I chose not to help out in this circumstance. They were very understanding, but they never again called.
What lifestyle choices have you had to make to stay in business?
Single entrepreneurs clearly have more time to devote to their businesses than do entrepreneurs who have children. It was a conscious choice for me, but I acknowledge that I often chose to put my work ahead of time spent with friends or on relationships. I don’t regret my choices but they are choices that every entrepreneur will have to make.
What are your strategies for staying competitive?
The strategy I most often recommend is to market via writing.
If you could start your career all over again, what would you do differently? Why?
I would focus on the keynoting market instead of corporate training. The rewards are greater and the preparation much less demanding.
What’s your advice for aspiring solopreneurs?
Don’t confuse size with excellence and don’t let your clients do it either. Very early in my career, I almost didn’t respond to a request for a proposal because I knew one of my competitors was a huge training corporation and I, a mere one-woman show. But, I was encouraged to submit my proposal and I was selected. That contract lasted for over a decade.
Are you glad you became a solopreneur? Why or why not?
On a daily basis, I thank God for not making me continue to work in a 9-to-5 environment. I don’t think my free spirit could have lasted much longer in the corporate cage.