️Episode 068 – Insights from 31 Years as an Independent Consultant with Susan K Moore

In this episode, I interview one of my independent consulting business owner clients, Susan K. Moore. 

Susan is the President and CEO of  Managed HealthCare Resources, Inc. She founded this business in 1991 after being the Director of Operations for a managed care company and has an extensive background in health plan operations, URAC and NCQA accreditations, home health care, presentation development, and speaking engagements. She personally has worked with over 50 organizations nationally for accreditation and regulatory compliance. She has retained one client since 1997 that services the Medicaid population.

Susan spoke nationally for three years for Pfizer on case management, NCQA accreditation, and health disparities. She also co-taught credentialing in accreditation on behalf of NCQA and co-developed and presented a two-day conference for NCQA accreditation readiness. Most recently she presented at the National Association of Healthcare Quality’s national conference on health care disparities.

Susan resides in Michigan with her husband and when she is not working she enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, reading, and gardening. 

Listen in as we discuss her journey as an Independent Consultant business owner over the past 31 years. This certainly makes Susan a pioneer in our and a veteran of our industry, and someone who we can gain so much insight from in terms of operating a consulting business over multiple decades, and all of the lessons that she’s learned along the way. 

This is a rich conversation where you will hear us talk about Susan’s current boutique consulting firm, how she’s scaled her organization in the last five or six years to be a substantial consulting firm that’s making seven figures, and so much more. Let’s go!

  • [00:28] What to expect from this conversation
  • [06:28] Meet our guest, Susan K. Moore
  • [09:00] Why Susan became an IC business owner
  • [12:05] What is was like to establish a path as an IC  business owner 31 years ago
  • [13:39] Why she transitioned from a solo IC business model to running an agency of IC
  • [18:29] How she has managed to keep her business lean and profitable 
  • [24:16] Top lessons learned after 24 years as a solo IC business owner 
  • [31:01] How to create and maintain your reputation in your industry
  • [36:39] How to keep imposter syndrome at bay
  • [40:40] How coaching can help you with your IC business
  • [48:18] Developing an IC business owner mindset vs. an employee mindset 
  • [49:12] Final words from our guest 

Susan K. Moore, NCQA Consultant | NCQA Surveyor 

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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


I am thrilled today to have my client and friend, I’ll say, friend, I truly feel a friendship with you, Susan, Susan Moore with me here today to share with us her journey and insights and lessons learned and everything that she has to share with us from being an independent consultant for the last 20 years, Susan 31, I lost track of time, 31 years, so she has so much to share with us. And I’m so thrilled that she is giving us a little bit of her time today. It’s hard, to get that time with her. And I am truly grateful. And I know you’ll really benefit from this hearing all of her perspectives. So, Susan, let’s just start with an introduction and tell us about you and your company. And so we can get started with that.


Yeah, thanks, Melisa. You know, it took a little bit to get me to come on. You’ve talked about imposter syndrome, I kept thinking, well, there’s nobody that could benefit from what I have to save. And I have 31 years of experience in doing this. But I finally agreed to and just get out of my comfort zone and do something like this is the first one I bet on like turned it down for other people before. So you’re the first one. So I am a nurse by training. I won’t tell you how many years ago I worked in the hospital and in-home care. And then I ended up in managed care, which is gotten a bad rap from a lot of people. It’s really the HMO world where I was after doing the clinical side, I got into the business side, and became manager of a call center and developed it and then moved up eventually to Director of Operations. And as I look at my background, I was always looking and progressing towards just that upward mobility, but more toward independence. And really my clinical background and white experience have helped me in what I’m doing now. And I have a very niche market for healthcare accreditation. It’s a lot of times we start out very much as generalists when we go into consulting. And I did that for a few years, but then really narrowed it down as I eventually became a surveyor for the national accrediting organization. And if some of you have heard of maybe ISO 9000, in the automotive, it’s quality accreditation, it’s their stamp of approval that you’re doing things in a quality way. And NCQA is a managed care quality stamp. And I’ve been surveying for them for 26 years. And that really provides credibility for what I do. And what it does is deal with quality in its operations for HMOs. And those that they work with whether they could be telehealth providers, and everybody’s familiar with telehealth now I think physician organizations, wellness and specialty companies such as those that specialize in kidney care, diabetes care, and that clinical background really does help me with getting a lot of those clients because they’re looking for somebody who understands the market, who understands clinical quality. And so that’s really helped me and that sum total to get a lot of the clients that I have today. And I have quite a few clients right now.


Yes, you do.


Tell me a little bit about why did you become an independent consultant? You touched on this a minute for a minute, but what made you take the leap into independent consulting?


Yeah, when I moved up to Director of Operations for that entrepreneurial company, I kept cleaning up messes that the owners had decided to do by saying, oh, yeah, we can do that. And then I’d say, as operations, you know, it’s always a tension between sales and ops. And, and I said, we can’t do that. And they still figure out a way. And so it’s a well what will happen if we did this, when I said, Well, this, this and this is going to happen. And they did it anyway. And sure enough, all those things happened. And so then I was left to clean up the messes. And it was really a trial by fire and of course, really uncomfortable when you’re going through it and took an exorbitant amount of like time and I thought, oh yeah, I don’t really We want to keep doing this. And besides, I always felt like I was a contrarian thinker. I really didn’t fit into the mold of corporate life, and I wasn’t politically correct. And I thought if I’m going to dispense information, I want to be successful and be compensated for that better than what I was there. And so the tipping point came to me when I was working as director of ops for about 50 hours a week, I was in a full-time program for my master’s at the University of Michigan and Health Services Administration, I had an eight-year-old and a four-year-old and became pregnant with my third child. So I had a full-time Masters and a full-time job. And ever since then, nothing is as bad as getting through those 25 months, and keeping one nostril above water in doing that. And I tell people that that’s what the tipping point was, which it was, but the additional one was that I had a strange syndrome after having the worst flu in my life. And I was, at that time, they weren’t really diagnosing that they said it was really a mental health problem. But what it is, is come to find out when I saw an immunologist, it was chronic fatigue syndrome, that also coupled with fibromyalgia. And it’s very similar to what people see now as long haulers syndrome from having COVID. So I really needed flexibility in my life, my work life, and the ability to lie down and rest when I needed it. And that’s not very conducive, and working in a company. And so all those things together really pushed me to be more independent and provide the flexibility that I needed. And I didn’t need to right now I don’t need to rest as much during the day. But when my life gets out of balance, as it does, when there’s a lot going on, I ended up having to go lay down for a while and just kind of fill my cup up again so that I can get back to the work.


Yeah, it’s so fascinating, Susan, because 31 years ago, when you decided to make this transition, that was an eye, you know, tell me but what that does wasn’t so much of a thing, right independent consulting, you really kind of made your own path to figure out how can I live my life and work in a way that really aligns to what I want to be doing to my contrarian thinkers, brain and to, you know, to really be able to navigate the health challenges that you were having.


Yeah, it was. And it was also not very common for the woman to be the primary breadwinner and the husband to be the stay-at-home dad, and after a certain point, and we were at that point, we’d started homeschooling, and we had to make a conscious decision for me to continue my work and for my husband to be a stay at home dad, which was not well looked at that time. And we, you know, we had to, even from the family we had, especially my husband’s side, very traditional, and that was really non-traditional. And we had a lot of naysayers, but you know, it just felt like this was the path that we needed to take. And so the ESC environment was different. Very much so. And there. There weren’t too many role models out there that I could see, I, I’ve never had a mentor. And, and that’s I always felt that was really a deficit. But really, I learned so much in forging my own path that I’ve been able to mentor other people as it came along to give them, some recommendations and help them to navigate things, especially as women.


Yeah, absolutely. You are the mentor or the Pioneer. Like they call it you told me that and that leads to the next question, which is, so your company, you built a company around your consulting, you started out independent consulting, but now it’s a company with a lot of independent consultants working with you. And so I’m just curious, why did you decide to move into that business model Susan versus staying solo?


Well, you know, it was kind of a choice. I say it’s kind of when you hear people say, well, it was organic, I guess it was just kind of a natural progression. There were some things that I After managing people as Director of Operations, my goal was to never manage people again. It sucked a lot of time it sucked a lot of emotion. It’s not I was affected by all of that So I thought I just don’t want to ever manage people again. So I was a solopreneur for 2425 years. And then one of the market forces that came about was that the Affordable Care Act went into place in 2011, which is otherwise known as Obamacare, which required HMOs, that if they wanted to participate in the marketplace, they had to have accreditation, and they could choose one of the two accreditors. And 85% of those organizations chose to go with the accreditor that eye survey for and also prepare organizations for. So there were a lot of organizations looking for consulting assistance. And there weren’t as many people out there that were independent consultants, there are a lot of people that are very, very comfortable staying in corporate life with having the benefits, they’re tied to their benefits. They’ve thought about dipping their toe in consulting, but they thought, well, I don’t know how to write proposals. I don’t know how to invoice I don’t know, client management. And so one person who had been my client and wanted to get out because her husband was having some health issues, decided that she would contact me and say, Hey, how do I get into independent consulting? And I said, Hey, how would you like to work for me, I have a lot of work. And she was a nurse, and attorney. And so also, she’s been able to, she no longer works with me, she retired a year ago. But she’s also helped me with some of the agreements and business associate agreements and the intellectual property and things like that. That really helped me out. So she kind of had a dual role with me. But then as she started out, and I started trying to make sure that everything was consistent and quality, she didn’t have as much experience as I did with those standards, but she had worked with them before. And so then we started getting more and more, so I just kept adding more consultants, and for consultants that need more full-time work, it’s a nice safety net, to come work with me because I have guaranteed work for them. So it’s not like, you step out and like you and I, and you don’t have a lot of business to start out with. And, and so you just have a don’t have a safety net unless your spouse is working. And of course, when I decided when we decided I could make more than my husband could and he had a teacher’s degree and could teach the kids then it was put a lot of pressure on me then to get that income. And so I really felt for the people that they needed that guaranteed income. And so just always added people, not before I needed them, but as I needed them, which always made it a lot more of pinch points. And there and that was one of the lessons learned, we can probably talk about in a few minutes. But there were also market forces are some of the other longtime consultants who are also surveyors were retiring, who are my competitors. So fewer firms had more potential clients that needed help. And so it created more of a demand issue. And so that that was really it was a lot of market forces that kind of forced me into doing it because I couldn’t find anybody else I could refer them to that I would feel good about. So I thought well, why not add people and mentor and train them to have the expertise and then you can make a lot of people, happy clients and also them and develop them. So that was that’s my story. That’s my long story about why I started now I have 14 And I have two more that are on, on point ready to hire too. So we’ve got a ton of work out there.


Yeah. So you’ve built a firm, firm basically has six students v 16. consultants are who are supporting you to deliver you know, this accreditation and surveys for your clients. Tell me a little bit Susan about how you’ve kept it so lean because in looking at your you know, and you and I have worked together for almost a year or a little, little over a year now. Tell me when you think about your business, it looks like it’s so lean compared to other businesses that I see that have a lot more overhead. You’re almost everyone in your company is billing clients, maybe everyone except for maybe a few family members doing some behind the scenes. things. Tell me a little bit about how have you kept it so lean and profitable in that way?


Well, for one thing, I wanted to make sure I also had enough income that that didn’t jeopardize my family. And just again, trying to add people as I needed them. And that being said, I had to be willing to take the sacrifice of working a whole lot more, and maybe just not on the business. But in the business, which is a case right now, because I have two clients myself that I didn’t have anybody that could take it, and all of them were being overworked with client needs at that point. So I had to be willing to do that. And so I have to go through a couple of months of a lot of pressure for me and tiredness, in order to get to the point where I can turn them over to somebody else. And so that’s, that’s part of it, it’s always, I just hate a lot of administrative overhead. I like to slot people in as I can and make sure that everybody is working at the highest level of their brother license and their capabilities, and then helping them to train for even taking on more responsibility. And but also trying to route work that I shouldn’t be doing. And there’s a lot that I shouldn’t be doing still. And the people that can do the work for, for less cost, like some of them I have a virtual assistant, but I need another one right now, of things that I’m doing, I’ve also had to be able to put time and money into automating some of my processes, so I don’t have to touch everything. That’s really a problem for independent consultants and small business owners. And most of us are control freaks and perfectionists. And it takes a while to own that, frankly, it took me a long time, I was first told I was a perfectionist at 12 by my piano teacher and I said no, I’m not a perfectionist. But I came to own it. And it’s an okay thing, but don’t let it strangle your business. So you have to there’s always that push-pull about what you should do what you can do, what you can do better, and then trying to put those things that you just need to teach other people to do these processes. Give them enough support to do that. But that’s basically how I’ve been able to keep lean. But I do know this year that in order to really scale, I need to be putting a lot of resources into different areas. And a lot of that is assistance help automation that’s going to take an investment of money and time to do that. So it is rather lean. But and I’ve used family members as you know, my husband is my bookkeeper, my son has a day job and is my financial manager and generates invoices and sends them out and helps me with budgeting. And another son is my IT support, he has a day job as an electrical engineer. So it’s not having full-time people that have to be paid, but using the resources that I have at the time, I think that’s really important. There are independent consultants out there for just about anything you want, they’re probably going to charge more than some of the things that my family members do, and so I’m using them, but I know that to scale, I need to start using other people that are going to cost more, but it’s a good investment. And when I go to sell it, you know, they’re not going to want a lot of family members involved. They’re gonna want you having standardized processes and, and have resources there to help you.


And that’s, that’s something that I think also plays into this too, that you’ve built. You know, it’s challenging to sell an independent consulting business, but you’ve built a firm that, you know, is something an asset that you’ll be able to sell to someone to write continue running and, and be able to retire. So that’s been such a, I think, slightly different take on and a huge benefit for you in terms of building this agency.


Yeah, exactly. Because as you’re an independent consultant, a lot of times you’re running so lean that you don’t have the opportunity to put as much money away for retirement as you might have liked. And then if you have four kids as I do, and they’re expensive, they’re you’re spending a lot of money that you can’t put toward retirement. So yeah, it is for my retirement nest egg, and most of the ones are the independent consultants that do what I do. Typically when they retire, they’re not selling the business. They’re just referring people out. And I’ve been the beneficiary of that, thankfully. But I think with the scale that we have now, and that it is a marketable product, and I’ve been approached by three different people that are interested in buying the business when I retire, even though I haven’t built some of the other infrastructures that need to be built, they’re still interested, I just think building that infrastructure in the automation is going to make it a lot more attractive and sell for a higher price. So it’s a good investment right now for the future.


Yeah. Let’s take a step back for a minute, Susan, and talk a little bit about earlier on in, especially when you were in still independent, what stands out to you from a lessons-learned perspective, looking back on it now, what advice would you give those of us who is still independent?


Oh, my word, there’s no, you know, it’s there, there’s so much I could tell you. One is, that one of the lessons learned is I would have used a virtual assistant earlier, I didn’t even know about them until about three years ago. And I would use them to greater capacity instead of doing routine work myself. So you know, I need to hire another one now, as I said, but it’s something that can offload a lot of that routine work, that doesn’t take your expertise, I would have also taken a business loan out. You know, we would look back in hindsight 2020, I didn’t want to ever jeopardize my family by having a loan to pay back that I didn’t know at the time if I could ever do that. So, you know, I think I did the best I could for what I had at the time. But if I’d had that business loan, I would have had, I would have developed a website. And right now, what I see with websites is everybody wants to build one and feels like it’s a funnel for money. But I found that mostly, it is a source of credibility. I just brought up my website three months ago. And I’ve had the business for 31 years, and I’m very successful. So it’s not a requirement that you have one. So, other independents like me, don’t have one either, or they just have a landing page with, hey, here I am, this is my expertise. So it gives you credibility. I invested in hours. And thank you for referring Tanya, to me because she’s a real gem. In developing the website, I decided on a certain platform that you and I talked about, and it was Kajabi, which I didn’t know until talking to somebody about doing some training courses for me that that was actually a learning management system. And so there are a lot of things that we could put on there that would automate the business and make it self-serve for some of the tools and templates that we have developed as intellectual property along with training that we can do. But it also has automation for bringing on consultants and bringing on clients and automating things that typically it’s I have to remember to do it and generate an email and send documents and you know, on and on and on. So it’s really a good resource to cut administrative time and that overhead. Also, the one thing I would have for sure done even before the website is to buy a client relationship manager, a CRM, to really automate a lot of the information and to help generate constant contact with my clients and our frequency of that. And also automate a lot of the things that we have to remember now to do. And if you scale, you want to have consistency and quality among all of the people that work with you. And so having an automated reminder system like this is 14 months before their survey, you need to remember to do a file review. So they have time to fix anything that’s, that’s gone arrive since our last survey, and so that everybody remembers that and does the same thing at the same time. And so I would have I wouldn’t have gotten to over 40 clients and then purchased one so we’re in the process of doing that now that will house all the relevant data for clients and streamline processes and provide that consistency. And I just have a ton of things I’ve learned, I would have hired a coach earlier, I did look at a coach about seven years ago. And number one, he was a guy, he had a different approach. I’m not one that can either give or take a sales-type approach, I felt a lot of pressure. And we can talk about that later about my criteria for coaches. But I think people need to hire a coach to get out of their own way. You, you know yourself, but you have blind spots. And I think a lot of times you need to be pushed to do things that you think you need to do. But you don’t have any impetus to do that.


I would also have hired an independent consultant to do my social media and marketing, you can’t do everything. And so that’s going to be one of the next things that I’m going to do. And also developing all of your processes and infrastructure for just assuming you’re going to add more people because you want to add more people and want to scale, make sure that you have all those processes defined so that you’re not developing them when you’re onboarding people, and you’re onboarding your 10th person, and you still don’t have all of those that are formalized and memorialized. So I think that’s one thing that I should have done at any time that I had a little downtime. Typically, when we’re independents when you have some downtime, you’re tending to worry about where your next dollars coming from, and instead of enjoying it, and using the time wisely. So I would have done that and made sure that I made time to work on the business, instead of just in the business, carving out that time every day, to say, even if it’s an hour, what can I do that can either develop a process, or some part of the infrastructure, or strategize or even if it’s just reading a business book, that will help generate some new ideas for you, that’s really critical and the benefit that I get from reading books and listening to them. And also make sure that methodically, you’re reaching out to keep your relationships going. A lot of times, that’s the first thing that goes in to keep those relationships up, you don’t want to hoard it on people’s time, because everybody’s busy. And you don’t want them to think you’re just calling to sell them something or to be used. So I’ve, I’ve really let that go. But I am a relationship person. And that’s where I develop my sales a lot of times because people resonate with me, with me not being very salesy, and just being who I am. So those are a lot of the lessons learned. I’m sure there’s more, but those are the ones that come to mind.


So much good. Hindsight pact, and lessons learned, packed into that, Susan, really, you know, for you, knowing where you started, and where you’ve come to, and really believing in advance that you could be successful in that. And to your point, really investing up front a little bit earlier, whether it’s in a website, or in those automation tools, or in processes and procedures so that you do have a stronger foundation to scale and aren’t using so much of your own personal time to, to basically cover over on the things that you hadn’t invested in. It almost sounds like might be the theme across all of that. Yeah. Good. Tom, me what, let’s talk a little bit about you touched on this and the really, you’re so strong at relating, building and maintaining and creating relationships. And that’s one of the dynamics that I think has created or supported you to become so well known for what you do and really sought after most of the time i i your i think your business comes to you. You’re not You’re not doing a lot of outreach or anything like this at this point in your business. And I’m just curious, how did you look back over time, how have you created this situation and been able to maintain it where you’ve got such a strong reputation in the industry?


You know, one of the things that I did just a second ago one of the things I did was to develop relationships with my competitors. And what that did is as they started retiring, they put my name on the list of one, two, or three people that they would give to other people. And so Don’t be afraid to do that in the 90s. On my bookshelf, there’s a book called coopetition. And that really talks about having those relationships that your competitors, but you also have some cooperative things. So I would be providing things for you, we’d bounce ideas off each other, but I would develop those strong relationships, even if it’s misery loves company, when we were having issues with clients or with the accrediting body that we did that. And I think that has really, really helped. In fact, another one that was retiring gave my name to a health plan that I just talked to this week. And I’ve never had a referral from her. So you know, that was really nice. But I’ve developed those, those networking relationships that I did not have when I started out, we didn’t have covered networking when I was in grad school, and it wasn’t considered part and parcel of what a nurse does, you know, we’re pretty much purists. And we don’t want to do things like that. So that was something that I really had to learn in developing the network. So I would go to conferences that I could afford, and I would also do some pro bono work for writing, which would give me visibility because I first worked in the Michigan market and got a lot of that. And I also did pro bono work for the accrediting body. That also gave me some more visibility there. And so there were associations that I worked with. And also one of them, we developed and I became president, but I had to leave it because it was just taking too much of my time that I needed to consult with. But it was really developing a lot of those relationships with people. It’s really funny. About a month ago, I talked to the health system in Oregon. And the CEO is saying, you know, your dean sounds really familiar. And I said, Well, I looked up your LinkedIn profile, and you were CEO after I left this other organization that I worked with, to help them for accreditation, he said, Oh, yeah, and you know, I hear that your name keeps coming out, I’m all over the place. But you know, that’s the reward of living long enough. And doing this long enough, where your name becomes more well known. I did some speaking before some national groups because associations are always looking for speakers. And if you have credibility and experience that really helps you to become a speaker, for these national organizations. So that’s something I’d like to get in more and do more. But it does take a lot of time, and energy for me and getting up because my energy has sucked when I’m in front of groups and talking to a lot of people. And its conferences are the same way. I have to push myself to do things like that so that I do develop those relationships.


Yeah. And then to your point, you maintain them, you touch base with people, you know, just to keep that relationship for the purpose of keeping it not for the purpose of meeting something from that person right. Now always come back to you. And someone of


my, one of my consultants, that was from my longest running client respect to 1996. They were, I was not working with her. At the time, they kind of let the contract lapse and I was going into Philadelphia, and that the, for a conference told the person I used to work with who was at another organization, and then this person who’s not my consultant, we got together for dinner. And she said, so why are you getting together for dinner? And did you want me to bring you back on? And I said, No, I was just wanting to keep in touch and see how things were going. And then another year, I was back working with them again. And it but that wasn’t my purpose. It was not to manipulate it was more to just find out how things were going and keep in touch with them. And so I’ve found that that’s really my superpower. Is that relationship building and maintenance and just need to embrace that. Yeah, yeah,


absolutely. This reminds me of when you first started, when we first started talking, you were mentioning your imposter syndrome. And so you brought up the subject, and I would love to dive into it a little bit more, Susan, because it’s fascinating to me for you’ve built this incredibly successful business over the course of 31 years and impostor syndrome, I think might have been on board the entire time in some form or fashion. And yet you’re able to go out and speak at conferences, you’re able to go right for these really prestigious organs, you know, publications. So tell me a little bit about how do you balance? How do you keep that impostor syndrome at bay enough to be able to keep going and not let it slow you down?


Well, I look at things that I need to do. And I look at things that I enjoy, I enjoy writing tremendously. If I could research and write all the time, I would do that. So that comes very easily to me. And something that I would do a lot instead of speaking. But the speaking it’s more of, a lot of times, it’s what I have a passion for, like last fall, I spoke for that conference. And it was on something that I really enjoyed, which is talking about health disparities among populations in the United States, income levels, and people of color. And I’m really passionate about that. So that pushed me out to do what I really loved a subject I loved, and to do something that was uncomfortable for me. And so it’s really, it’s always doing what you should do because it’s part of your building character. Second, it’s part of building character, which was also what we’ve prioritized in our children’s lives. And so I felt like it was a role model for them. I’m doing this, I’m very uncomfortable. I’m going to do it successfully. And no matter what your fear is, you can do the same thing. So I felt that was part of me being a role model don’t do as I say, but do as I do. And so it really went back to that.


Yeah, you had a strong had and have a strong driver to overcome that imposter syndrome thing for a lot of us we think, well, it’s something’s wrong with us. So then it’s like a scientist Stop, stop or redirect when effects are just a signal that this is discomfort, which is part of running a business and, and learning, learning some technique like you just shared to overcome it and keep going. So


I always, I always felt like I was defective. As a person. I’m not a glad-hander and salesy type person inside that in order to be successful, I had to do that. And it took me until about seven years ago, I read the book quietly, being an introvert in a world that can’t put talking Susan Cain, who is an attorney, wrote a wonderful book. So if anybody’s an introvert, which, you know, half of the world is, and you haven’t embraced that introversion, really read that book that will really help you to realize that a lot of the great thinkers and successful people like Bill Gates and others are introverts. And they have the skill set, they know how to surround themselves with people that help also to push their vision forward. That helped me to realize I didn’t need to be salesy. I just needed to be who I was. And, and just use that and leverage that into selling. And so that helped. helps me overcome my imposter syndrome by knowing this is who I am, and I can still be successful. It’s not who I think I should be. And I think that one of the things that people really need to embrace is just being yourself. There’s only one you just accept that and do what, what you can with the skills and knowledge and experience you’ve been handed, and you’re going to be successful because people are going to see that you really love it. You’re passionate about it. And they’re attracted to that.


Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay,


Susan, if we’re, if you’re game for it, let’s transition a little bit and talk about what coaching. I always love asking my clients, what it was like from their vantage point. So tell us a little bit about why did you decide to hire a coach?


You know, that’s good. Good question. My, I also do the same things with my clients. In fact, I talked to somebody about the synergistic work we could do just a couple of hours ago. And I said to him because he’d been my client, and now he’s going on his own. And I said, So what made you decide on retaining my company? And so he talked about the experience and the competence, I’d done it before and things like that. So I do the same thing with my clients. But the reason I did was I had approached that other coach about five years ago and just Yeah, I don’t think so. I thought that a coach was something like I saw in the sports area that not only do they mentor, they’re yelling at them, and they’re, you know, they’re, they’re getting mad at them. And that’s not what motivates me, I would get stressed out by that. So I thought, well, maybe getting a coach isn’t for me. And then I heard more about coaching. I don’t even remember how I got tuned into, your work, but I think it was I’m always researching and looking for things and found your name and then started working with you. But the reason that I did was that I felt a certain torpor. And I don’t know if you know what, what that is.


But oh, what is that, Susan?


You know that I think probably that is a maybe something that I learned in medicine, it’s that you know, that it is time to do something in a state of physical or mental inactivity and lethargy. Where you just think I’ve been doing this so long, I’m kind of on automatic pilot, I need to do something else. I’m staring at retiring, what do I want to do before I retire? I need a kick in the pants to really get me going. And because I’d heard you on some podcasts, and you were on MBO partners, to which I’ve been part of for years and years, and I thought, Well, I think I probably might be able to work with her, she seems like she would have, you know, some residents with me, that I could work with her. And so that’s why I got into it. You know, of course, the cost is a little, it wasn’t as a shock, as much as it had been when I talked to the other coach, and found out what he charged. But, and that’s why I think that you know, if you needed to get a business on to get a coach, it would really be beneficial because it helps you get out of your own way. It questions, what you’ve been doing and why you’ve been doing it, why aren’t you doing something else? And of course, our psyches and our pride are really embedded in what we do. And so it makes you really vulnerable to think somebody is going to come in and question what I’m doing and, and then I’m going to sit there thinking I’ve been doing this wrong for all this time. And as a perfectionist that’s not the downward spiral you want to get into. And so it was that push and pull-out the tension that I needed to do something else. But I need somebody to help me get to the next place and get out of my own way. So that I can do that. And that included charging more for my hours. And I really got a wake-up call a couple of weeks ago when I was hiring somebody who had been a consultant for 10 years. And she’s not a surveyor. And she’s charging, what I have been charging my clients. She doesn’t have all that experience intellectual property, all of the things we’ve done behind her as I do, and I’m like, really? Wow. And she didn’t have a problem asking for that amount. So I’m thinking, Boy, you know, I need to really up my charges again, you know, it’s done that people were willing to pay or so. Yeah, there we go. It makes you more of an elite consultant because people perceive your value by how much you’re charging. Yeah. And so you can’t lowball it, you’ve got to make it where it is competitive. But maybe, you know, I, you know, I talked to you about what do the big boys charge. And of course, there’s that value perceived in there, even though the benefit is not as great and the value as working with our team. And so you know, you have to always have that knowing what people what the market will bear what they perceive as value and then go from there. But it did help me to get over myself and start looking at some of those other things. So it was really valuable. And I would encourage anybody to do that. You just need little pushes here and there. Yeah, do what you need to do that you know you need to do, but nobody’s pushing you to do it. And it also made me more accountable on a weekly basis. Instead of saying, oh, you know, I’ll get to it, and then it’s always I’ll get to in it. Doing some of those things just fall off your list. It’s not as much of a priority because there’s a tyranny of the urgent in some other way. That’s always good. I’m compelling you to address that.


Yeah. And you touched on this a little bit, Susan, but what would you say looking back over the work we’ve done so far together, what were the couple of results that stand out to you,


or results? Yeah, the increasing my billing rate, and starting to, and helping me to get other resources because you don’t know what you don’t know. And so I didn’t know who to, to reach out that would be credible. And not make a mistake, because perfectionists, don’t want to make any mistake. And we’re going to live with that for years. And so I wanted to make sure that with having somebody else who would recommend somebody that was was helping me, so the billing rate was very helpful, being accountable and being more disciplined, because somehow, as independent consultants, when you have that flexibility, you have less discipline. And so that helps to create that discipline. And that’s why I don’t know if you even want me to say this, but that’s why I felt the value of having you work with my consultants who’ve never been consultants, to make that transition from the employee world, into the consulting world, and independent consulting, because they, once you don’t have to punch a time clock, you know, symbolically, a lot of times people just kind of kick back and say, oh, there’s no real push for me to get this done. And I don’t have as much work starting out. And so I’ll leave this to some other time. And so helping them to manage their time. And to actually see the need for some of the things that they need to do. And you coaching them, I think is really valuable. I’ll be talking to one of the next weeks to see about that, how she’s if it’s helped her at all because she had really been having trouble with procrastination. And then what happens when they procrastinate is that all of a sudden, another client dumps a bunch of work on us. And then we’re overwhelmed. So if you don’t keep up with it, and have some kind of self-discipline, you’re gonna be having problems.


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s been such an honor to be able to work with you directly, Susan, and also with your team, to help them, you know, become more of an independent consultant mindset and business owner mindset versus like, you were saying, an employee mindset and the behaviors that we learn there that make us successful, don’t always translate to being successful, you know, as a consultant. So


you know, and one that the one that I mentioned earlier that used to be a client and then went to the creditor came to work with me. And I said to her, now that you have become an independent consultant, you think back on your previous work, where you are an employee if you were billing for that time? How much value? How many billable hours would you have? And she said, Man, I wouldn’t have that many. So it really is a totally different mindset. And I think that’s one of the hardest things for people to become their own business owners to learn that. Yeah,


yeah, absolutely. Susan, I wish we could talk all day, honestly. But tell us, we’ve covered so much ground, and I really appreciate you sharing so generously. Um, tell me if there’s anything else we haven’t covered yet that you wanted to share with the audience today?


Yeah, there’s, I could talk all day, even though I’m really was reluctant to talk it’s, you know, just accumulated so much over the years, knowledge experience and made mistakes. And I, when you start out, people seem to be more of a general generalist to get work. And so you’re afraid that you’re not going to have enough work if you don’t take anything that comes to you. And unfortunately, a lot of those things just make you a staff augmentation as a contractor. Instead of somebody who dispenses advice, the more you can specialize and create that niche, the better that you’re going to be. And you can focus on being a rock star in that niche that attracts clients. And so just this week, I talked to somebody and I said, I was telling how the standards are integrated. They’ve never been accredited. And she’s sitting there and said, Wow, you’re at the top of my list for the three. I’m going to send the proposal out too, because of all your knowledge and you can just let that spit off your tongue. But if you’re generalists, you can’t be doing that. So specialized That’s where you’re going to create your business, make sure to set your priorities and follow them. Make sure you’re always linked to your north star and ethics and integrity. I have fired clients for unethical practices that I was known, that I found out about. Because you are by extension, that part of that reputation and your reputation is the only thing that you have. And it takes a lifetime to develop. And 10 minutes, it was Warren Buffett set up 10 minutes to destroy it. So guard your reputation, guard your integrity, and I have one potential client who became my client and said, when I asked you if you’d ever fired a client, you said you had that gave you a lot of integrity, and that I could trust in you. And so make sure that you do that. If you don’t follow your priorities, like having a family, and you’re going to be limited, even if your spouse is helping, you’re still not going to be anybody that could work on their business 24/7 If you’re going to build, raise your two kids, right. And so make sure you stay with your priorities and say, you know like my mom said, I did the best I could, at the time that it occurred because you forget about all those different dynamics that were occurring. So follow your integrity, follow your ethics don’t ever deviate from that. And there are times where I thought that maybe I didn’t do I failed my kids when I prioritize something over them for business. But about five years ago, my second son gave me a Mother’s Day card and said, You were always there for the most important times of my life. And I really appreciate that that was so heartwarming, makes me want to cry, but makes me know that I spent my priorities my time where I needed to be and not on the business. And even though it took me all these years to scale, it was because my family was the priority. My health was a priority. And I could only do what I could do. So follow your priorities. And that will always keep you in a good place.


Thank you, Susan.


So I’m so honored that you were able to join us today. And I really appreciate your time. And you’re all of these lessons learned that you’ve been able to share with us. So thank you so much. We’ll see you soon. You know,


thank you so much. And thanks for being a great coach. And I recommend Melisa she didn’t pay me for saying this, but I recommend her to anybody because she can really give you a lot of help.


Thank you, Susan. I


appreciate that. All right. Thanks for tuning in. I will see you next week.

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