Tyler Dicostanzo: In celebration of Soukup Strategic Solutions’ tenth anniversary, can you tell us what is in store for the company’s future?
Sheryl Soukup: It has been exciting to see how the nonprofit community and the nonprofit sector have changed due to the pandemic. While there were obviously many negative effects, there have been some incredibly positive changes too. These are changes that everyone is familiar with: the ability to work remotely and the use of technology in new ways. It is an openness to try new things in a way that people were not open to before, which has created many opportunities for us as a company. Through turbulent times, many nonprofits need consultants with expertise that can help them through the rough patches. So that has created some opportunities for us too.
In thinking about where the company is going, I have long had a vision for our company to be a nationwide consulting firm. I am excited that we are moving in that direction, that we now have clients in different areas of Florida and some clients outside of Florida. It is extremely exciting to be mapping out a strategic plan that takes us beyond Southwest Florida, beyond Florida, and into the rest of the country. Some of the ways that we plan to do this are with remote consulting, remote coaching, and virtual learning opportunities.
It is great to be able to use platforms like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams to conduct business. Now that we work remotely, instead of our team being in one office together in one geographic location, we can work with incredibly talented professionals in other areas of the country–that is huge for us. We can help people in different areas even if they do need some face-to-face time because now we have people on our team that live in other areas of the country. That’s also huge for us. So, the future of the company looks very bright indeed.
Tyler Dicostanzo: Can you offer some advice for others looking to expand their business?
Sheryl Soukup: Running a business is not easy. It is not for the faint-hearted. I would say anybody looking to expand has to really think about whether expansion is going to either make the world a better place or make it better for you and your family’s life. It should be carefully analyzed because every time you expand your business, you take on risks. You must weigh the risk over the potential benefit. Some people are just driven to grow their businesses; it is a part of their DNA. If that is you, hopefully, you are running a business that will make the world a better place and make life better for you and your family.
If you have determined that you are going to grow your business, then it takes dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks. So, you have to gear yourself up and be willing to strap in and take the ride. You have to be willing to take those risks but make them measured. Be sure that you have the stomach for it. If you do, you have to take calculated risks where you explore the different options and test the marketplace a little before you go all in.
There is a concept called “minimum viable product,” which is more of a software term, but it means that you take something to market before you have completely developed it. If you can bring it to the marketplace without preconceived notions, you will end up with a better product or service. The idea is that you do not spend a huge amount of time futzing with it and making it perfect. Instead, you produce a basic product or service that you have an idea for, you introduce it to the marketplace, and then you are open to what your customers and clients say needs to be done to improve it. You must be able to let go of what you thought you wanted to bring to the marketplace because sometimes it is going to be wildly different than what people want and need. Sometimes, what you produce does not work well, and you must fix it, tweak it, and manipulate it until it works the way customers want. That is how we have approached our IMPACTability® coaching and training courses. So rather than making the courses perfect as we put them out there, we are developing and testing them with a small number of clients to see how they like them, what things we want to change, and then refining them before we put them out to the larger marketplace.
You must be open in any line of work. If you are a business owner, you must be open to listening to your employees. You must be open to listening to your clients or customers. If you are a nonprofit, you must be willing to listen to your volunteers and donors. I suggest you are open and listen to whomever your constituents are, whoever is touched by you and your business, the stakeholders. The most important thing that you can do is listen. Then you use what you have heard along with your intuition, knowledge, and experience to make decisions that will yield a better result. By taking action on what you’ve learned, you can maximize your impact and have a greater positive impact on the world around you.