Interview about Entrepreneurship with Ivy Lewis
Dr. Rob: Hi Ivy! we’re going to talk today about you and your entrepreneurial work. Can you tell me what’s your business?
Ivy: My name is Ivy Lewis. I’m the owner of ZL consulting LLC. ZL consulting LLC is a project management coaching and consulting business. I interface with two types of customers. One is project managers who I provide skills and techniques coaching in order for them to be able to successfully deliver projects. On the other hand, for the project-based operations, I help them implement an accountable and disciplined culture through a data-driven approach to achieve operational excellence.
Dr. Rob: How did you get into this path? Tell me a little bit more about what it’s like to try to run a business from home. What are some of the biggest challenges you face on your entrepreneurial journey?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. It has always been my dream to operate my own small business. I have used my project management skills and knowhow to my own business. I have had to learn fast to be able to take on all that a business requires when it comes to business development, finance and operation. Mostly importantly, adapt and respond to feedback and keep an open mind for new ideas.
For example, at the beginning of COVID, I tried to find different ways to reach my audience and my customers. Because of the restrictions with the remote working, I started creating YouTube videos to deliver content. I also did video interviews with industry experts. After posting regularly on YouTube and LinkedIn for 6 months, I have secured a group of following. From that following, I had people reach out to me for business. I did not know how to create videos last year, I signed up a course and learned everything I could about creating a video. When I first started, a 10 minute video would take me two days to shoot; now it takes two hours. A vast improvement but I’m still learning and finding new ways to get better.
In addition to being flexible, self-discipline is especially important if you are working from home like me. I took Dr. Rob’s advice from our last video collaboration “Balanced leadership” and wrote down short-term goals on a card with due dates. Running a small business is just like managing a group of projects. Self-discipline is critical for the business owner in order to manage a mirage of tasks efficiently and effectively and keep the business moving along.
Dr. Rob: So what is your business plan here? I mean how do you plan to make money off this? People always want to know where’s the revenue where is the dollar coming from.
People asked me how do I make money, where did the revenue come from? My business has two revenue streams. Similar to other consulting business, I work on coaching and consulting projects with clients. As part of the effort to scale my business, I summarized my coaching experiences and launched an online course in June called: Jump-Start Project Management. This online course is for project managers to learn how to operate a project and deliver results in five hours and at their own pace. The course license is the product that I created to sell. What is next? I am working on publish a kindle book on the same topic to reach broader audiences this year.
Dr. Rob: What is your vision for five years from now Ivy? What would you do if you’re very successful as I’m sure you will be, what does it look like? Are you occupying half of New York city and downtown Boston by then?
I don’t have the big ambition to be an enterprise business owner. My dream size will be about a ten-person company. I will have a meeting office location where I can meet clients but would still operate remotely. I believe a high-performance working culture is based on autonomy and trust in the team. Regarding the products to sell, I like to be able to build up a platform of courses which is called the “Kick-Ass Project Academy”. It is a one-stop shop place for project managers to learn the hard skills and the soft skills to bypass the countless coaching sessions. Right now, I only have one course: “Jump-Start Project Management”. I like to get more experts to collaborate on the soft skills courses just like the Master Class. This is my vision for this business in 10 years: building a project management community platform.
Dr. Rob: Very good! Do you want to share any of the advice you might give other people who are trying to start their own business now and are getting into the entrepreneurial world maybe because they have to or because they want to? What advice would you pass on?
In Chinese, the word “Crisis” is “危机”. It is a phrase combined with two characters meaning “Danger” & “Opportunity”. This is where the saying “A crisis contains an opportunity” comes from. When I pivot my business during the crisis time, it was a journey to seek my “opportunity”. Right now, it is an opportunity for a lot of people to start a business. If I think back, one thing I want to share with the ones stepping onto this entrepreneur path is something Dr. Rob said before: Feel the fear, assess the risks, but do it anyway. A dear friend of mine said that he is a risk taker, but he only takes risks worth taking. This sentence really applies well in entrepreneurship. If you have a dream of starting a business, seriously look at it but assess the risks. Do your due diligence of the business feasibility. Consider where your financial investment come from. Make sure you have the right support structure in place. Once those are done, if it’s a risk worth taking, just do it! Ready, aim and then fire.