Nancy Clauss has developed a sharp eye for how businesses can become bloated with inefficiencies, lack of direction, and miscommunication – and how they can be retooled to a sleeker, smoother, more strategically focused organization. She loves startups and entrepreneurial ventures, helping owners generate revenue, profitability, and sustain job and employee satisfaction.
Today we wanted to share with you why Nancy is such a valued Cayenne consultant and give you some of her best tips to help you move your business forward.
What was your background and career before you started consulting to startups and small businesses?
I was always attracted to small businesses and the world of entrepreneurship. I wanted to get involved in a startup right out of college, but I was so inexperienced and green that I didn’t know how to make it happen. The economy was tough at that time and jobs were scarce, so I was lucky to have a friend who helped me land a job with a small food broker. For the next 30 years, I worked for a number of small businesses and startups including a couple of my own. I learned firsthand what small business owners needed to succeed.
What made you decide to become a consultant to startups and small businesses?
After three decades of working mostly for others, I realized that I had a wealth of knowledge that I could use to help entrepreneurs as they started out. All of the smart things to do and how to avoid the not so smart, too. At this point in my life, I want to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams by starting up and growing successfully. I feel tremendous satisfaction when my clients succeed.
In what kinds of work do you specialize?
I mainly focus on business planning for startup and funding, small business certifications, and start-up branding packages. Small Business Certifications are administered by the SBA to assist women and minority-owned businesses in working with the government and enterprise-size firms.
What do you enjoy most about working with entrepreneurs?
I love the energy, boundless enthusiasm, and passion entrepreneurs have for their business ideas. I enjoy learning about new businesses on a regular basis; every week I get to be involved with new and exciting business ideas. It’s fun for me to be a part of their management team and help them by sharing my knowledge.
Can you tell us about some of your success stories?
I have helped in the startup of dozens of businesses, the lion’s share of which went from a few hundred thousand per year to millions per year in revenue. One company I worked with started up their first year earning less than $100k, the next year they made a few hundred thousand, and after we certified them 8(a) they achieved $12 million the next year. Another woman-owned firm I worked with got a multimillion-dollar contract as soon as her certification was complete.
What are some things you enjoy when you’re not working?
I have a large family close by, and we get together frequently. I also love hiking with my dog and friends, gardening, and cooking.
Any parting words of wisdom for our readers?
Never stop learning. The one fault I see over and over in entrepreneurs that aren’t as successful as others is their unwillingness to see their weaknesses and refusal to accept that they need to build skills they may not have yet. Those owners can only grow their businesses so far, and then they stagnate. So seek outside support from others more successful than you, listen to those you trust, and read.
Nancy also leads Cayenne’s SBA Certification consulting practice.
Nancy earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara and holds a California Real Estate license.