Industry: Financial Management
Year Founded: 2007
Location: Novel Coworking West Loop, Chicago
Tell the story of how your business was founded.
“I worked for a consulting company doing similar work. In the beginning it was great, we had a great team, good leadership and it was always fun to work there. Over time things changed for the worst. The CEO’s behavior got worse, the attitude of the team changed, and I no longer felt the company lived the same values it taught to its clients. I had made pitch to join the executive team and change that, but leadership at that time didn’t understand my approach and the idea was rejected.
Not long after that I found a client that could sustain me as an independent and so I dove head first into being an independent consultant with an eye on rebuilding a consulting firm from the ground up. I worked harder than I ever have those first 6 months and saved as much money as I could to afford hiring one more. once I did, Responsive Advisors was officially a small company in my mind. After another year our team has grown to 4 people.”
When did you first feel successful?
“Success is relative and can come in small batches. I know that it doesn’t take much for a successful business to quickly go out of business. I suppose I felt successful after my first year when things were still looking up. I felt successful after the second year when a lot more was accomplished with a larger group and still looking up. I feel successful every day I have a company that’s profitable and a happy team working with me.”
What has been the biggest challenge in starting a business?
“Few things ever go smoothly. A surprising amount of my time is spent tracking down the cause of problems and fixing them. Chasing unpaid invoices, dealing with broken accounting systems, payroll companies that forget to submit withheld taxes to the IRS, the list goes on and on. Fortunately some of this work now can be spread across the team which helps greatly in keeping up with it. I feel like I have a dozen plates spinning at any time.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a business?
“Learn everything you can, stay learning, read lots of books on business related topics like managing people, marketing, strategy, etc… If you don’t already have an MBA you can get a lot of it through good books. Also, cash is king. Its not easy to get a loan to start a new business especially if you don’t have a financial track record of someone who could wisely spend the money. 10 years ago I knew I wanted to one day start a business, so I practiced financial management on my personal and household budget. It helped quite a bit!”
What has been the key to your company’s success?
“I can’t say there is one key, but there are several. I have a great team who think of ideas I didn’t think of, have skills I don’t have, and in general make working more fun because I genuinely like these individuals. Being strategic about our offerings and about business development has also been helpful.”