By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
For RPCN member Mary Sperr, consulting has been a path to doing what she loves and loving what she does.
Sperr is co-president and co-owner of Blue Dog Marketing with fellow RPCN member Laurie Enos. They launched the company in 2012 and provide "a full range of marketing services, from logo design to brochures, from website design to ghostwriting blogs, from event planning to PR services," Sperr said.
Before going into consulting, Sperr worked as a marketing director and in business development at engineering companies and as an account manager in the grocery food business. Consulting was attractive because of the flexibility it offered, along with the opportunities for doing work "in areas that I enjoy, like providing a new brochure design for a client and having them love it."
Sperr and Enos had known each other for about 20 years before deciding to create their consulting company together. "We had a great foundation of friendship upon which to build, and we still enjoy working together," Sperr noted. "We complement each other, which helps us round out our services. It also means we can take on bigger projects and clients than we could handle on our own."
Before launching the business, they took a course on small business offered by the Small Business Development Council and Monroe County. "It gave us places to seek more information and we came away with a lot of great ideas and information to start our business," said Sperr.
To Sperr's mild surprise and great delight, the company's clients "range from a start-up business or consultant, to hotel chains and universities," she said. "We look for clients that are struggling to market their small business and need/want our help and expertise."
Among the resources that Sperr has found most useful in launching, maintaining and expanding her consulting business have been attending many networking events and joining networking groups. "We joined a BNI group 'Rapid Referrals' soon after founding the company, and this did help us launch our business faster," she said. "Our membership in the RPCN has helped the most. We have met many consultants willing to share their experiences and help others. We've been fortunate that a few RPCN members have become our clients."
Among the skills that Sperr has found helpful in becoming a consultant have been "my ability to meet new people and turn them into clients; my design capabilities; and my honesty and business ethics," she said. She has no regrets about going into consulting or how she and Enos developed the business. "Of course, we all learn more as our business grows but I have no regrets about starting the business," she said. "There are a couple of potential clients we would have liked to work with that we did not secure, but we have learned from those experiences."
A strong believer in networking, Sperr is active in organizations in addition to RPCN: She is president of the Gates Chili Chamber of Commerce, a past president and member of the Hubbard Springs Garden Club, and a councilwoman for the Town of Chili for 14 years. She and Enos also belong to the Rochester Women on the Move networking group. "We do quite a bit of networking to meet potential new clients," she said.
While many consultants work on their own, Sperr has found great value in having a business partner. "Having a partner is a wonderful asset because you're not in this alone and you have another professional to bounce ideas off of," she said. "It is also helpful to have some other source of income while starting and building your new business."
Consulting has turned out to be the ideal business model for Sperr. "Laurie and I love what we do," she said. "There is nothing better than seeing our clients succeed because we were able to help them grow their business. We mean it when we say 'We help companies be their best in the moment that counts.' How could you not enjoy that!"
What Sperr enjoys most about the consulting life is that "every day is different," she said. "Since Laurie and I both love people, that is a fun part of being a consultant and owning our own business. We've finally found something we both love to do."
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader and speaker whose motto is "I can write about anything!"™ She is also the owner of Communication Central (www.communication-central.com), which hosts a conference for communications entrepreneurs in the fall.