Lessons Learned on the Journey
Change is again coming to Wisconsin in the form of fall! This is as much a reflection time of year for me as New Years. The leaves are turning colors, we’re preparing our home for winter by putting away the patio furniture, trimming back the landscaping, raking the leaves, and getting last minute home projects done before cold weather drives us indoors.
As we celebrate our 15th year in business at Journey Consulting, I’m reflecting on how we have changed and evolved and, in many respects, recreated ourselves several times. As part of this reflection, I want to share some lessons learned.
Change is inevitable – I started the firm in late 2007. At that time, businesses were growing, the economy was good, and Journey Consulting was getting its legs. Shortly thereafter, the crash of 2008 brought rapid growth to a halt. Calls for consulting slowed, and we needed to focus on areas where opportunities existed to generate revenue until the economy recovered. In 2020, we once again weathered unexpected challenges during the COVID pandemic. Like many of you, we needed to shift and adapt to this new environment to remain relevant to our clients and manage through the changing labor market.
Never stop learning and growing – Thanks to the slowdown of business from 2008-2010, I had extra time on my hands. Seeing a silver lining in the situation, I decided to pursue my MBA. This had always been a goal of mine, but with a young family and a full-time job, it wasn’t realistic. The opportunity presented itself during this window, and I obtained my master’s degree in 16 months. To position our consulting firm as a thought leader, I have continued to seek training and experiences that bring value to our business and our clients and provide those opportunities for our team.
Invest in others – Throughout my career, I’ve had many individuals invest in me, giving me opportunities to learn and grow. As a business owner, one of the hardest things to do is know that when you hire on employees, they may not stay with you. Yet, investing in their success will add value to your business, grow their skills, and hopefully, they continue to be a positive referral to you and your business if they move on.
Listen – The answers to what you need to be doing (the same/better/differently) with your business resides with your current customers/clients. You just need to ask!
Never compromise your core values – Over my 15 years in business there have been only a handful of times when I had to make very tough decisions regarding a client relationship or employee. As a business owner, it’s always difficult to exit a client relationship, especially when you are trying to grow your business. I’ve fired three clients during that time because they violated our core values. As difficult as those conversations were, they have been the best decisions I’ve ever made. I should have done it much earlier and each was a lesson learned. The epitome of this for me is the following quote, “Companies, like people, should never change who they are so others will like them. They should find those who like them for who they are.”
Positivity can get you through any challenge – The name Journey Consulting was chosen because we are all on a journey in life. There are ups and downs, obstacles, and surprises. However, we always have the choice to approach life with a level of positivity that can get you through any challenge. I was asked by a past employee as we were going through the pandemic how I could be so positive. My answer was simple – what other option do I have!
Some of the most challenging and rewarding times of my career have been as the founder and owner of Journey Consulting. We have been so fortunate to have great clients who are as invested in our success as we are in theirs. When clients reach out during times like the pandemic to ask how we are doing, that’s true partnership. When we are impacted by personal life events such as the passing of my parents this past year and the birth of our first grandchild, or our clients have lost spouses, parents, or are suffering health issues, there is mutual support and understanding.
Creating a business where you can be your true self and attract those who align with your core values not only makes life more fulfilling but creates mutual success.
“If you can do what you do best and be happy, you are further along in life than most people.” – Leonardo DiCaprio
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC
Our firm is focused on providing business owners and their businesses with strategic planning, exit planning, financial expertise, and organizational improvement. We use a holistic approach within all of our services by aligning leadership with business strategy and outcomes.
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