Teri Aulph, Teri Aulph Consulting
Teri Aulph Consulting, founded in 2008 in Tulsa, Okla., I am a speaker, author, trainer, executive coach and business consultant who focuses on leveraging talent in businesses.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching this business: After spending many years as a human resources executive in Fortune 500 companies in the high tech and automotive industries, I relocated back home to Oklahoma for personal reasons. Very quickly, it became evident that the opportunities for someone with my experience and expertise were limited. In addition, the economy was rocky and, thus, the job market landscape volatile. Companies were downsizing and HR departments were being reduced. I realized there was a need being created for consultants and trainers with my expertise to fill the gaps. More importantly, my experience and expertise were uncommon, so that allowed me to carve out a unique niche. In order to establish my brand, I did something I had done inside companies for years: I began speaking at events. Very quickly, my business grew, I expanded my services and wrote my first book, Experience Job Satisfaction. Taking what appeared to be a challenge and making it the springboard for my success, is what I hope to share with entrepreneurs everywhere.
Ideal Customer: Mid-size to large organizations are my ideal client and allow me to provide my highest level of value. From a speaking perspective, associations, event planners, and anyone seeking an inspirational speaker who focuses on people and business.
First Customer: A friend of mine was aware of my background. She had a colleague who was the new president of a non-profit who needed someone to facilitate strategy planning. She recommended me and they continue to be a client today.
Measuring Success: Even though I am a solopreneur, I do annual strategy planning with quarterly objectives and a timeline with mileposts. Things always change along the journey and I adjust the plan accordingly. Achieving mileposts and meeting goals is certainly a measure of success. Going beyond the metrics and finding myself in arenas I didn’t expect are my favorite measures of success. An early success I achieved is based on a challenge I believe we all face: how to value our services financially. I always knew that pricing on value was the smartest way for the services I provide. I had a client who wanted a variety of HR services over a period of time. After much research I realized I was bidding on the low side. I prepared the proposal based on actual value and gave the client the option to retain me for a minimum of three months with an option to renew in three-month increments. It was very scary to hit ‘send’, but I did it and was awarded the job. Not only are they an ongoing client, but their parent company is, as well. It is important to understand the negative perception we send when we undervalue what we do.
Biggest Struggle: Time management is the biggest struggle for me. I have a tendency to keep working all hours until the work is completed. I had an epiphany during the last Spark & Hustle event. Marley Majcher spoke about the money we waste in inefficiency and how to get control over your time, which equates to money saved. I implemented her methodology and it has changed the way I work forever.
Surprise!: I am always surprised by the referrals I receive. I am very customer-centric and will always over-deliver. However, you don’t always know if the customer is aware of what you are providing. I volunteer with a few groups and many, many times my interactions there have led to new clients. Two of those groups are focused on job seekers. Extending of yourself, without agenda, always has a way of coming back to you in the best ways.
Promoting Business: No doubt, my most effective method of marketing is speaking. I can tie every client who has come to me as a result of hearing me speak. If I can get in front of 200 people and speak on a topic in my wheelhouse, it escalates my exposure and positions me as an expert.
Two things I wish I would’ve known: I wish I had understood how much I would love doing this for a living. There is nothing better than loving what you do. That being true, I could not do this if I hadn’t spent my time building expertise in large companies. I am very grateful for that. And I wish I had better understood how to place monetary value on my services. I sold myself short during the first year and it took me a while to undo some of the misperception about my services.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: It doesn’t matter how much business I have, what will keep me up at night is the future. I never take for granted that it will always be as good as it is today. I want to ensure I’m doing all the right things today to build the business I want tomorrow. In addition, I never want to take all I’ve been afforded for granted. I am very fortunate and appreciative.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel?: Never. I love this work, my clients and the unlimited possibilities.
Moving Forward: My biggest goal is to grow the speaking side of my business expanding geographically. It is requiring me to have a speaker video completed and, perhaps, signing on with speaker bureaus. In addition, I am joining my local NSA (National Speaker Association) to continue to improve and grow.
Pricing, Getting It Right: Never talk dollars. Always lead with value. That requires you to know, understand and be able to articulate your value to your customers. In addition, asking the right questions will provide you the information you need to understand what value means to your customer and what success looks like to them. That will equip you to be able to best put a price on it.
A Few Good Tips: As a consultant, know what your competitors are doing and find a way to set yourself apart. Never say you have experience you don’t have. Consultants do this often and it is the kiss of death. Be authentic and the best ‘you’ you can be. Check out local business events as they are full of potential clients and great places to network. Join organizations that support businesses, such as chambers. Once you are a member, attend events and volunteer. They often have members who come to them for recommendations. Be visible and make sure they know what you do.
Must Read: Harvard Business Review because they use reliable sources, remain ahead of trends and provide a variety of philosophies/perspectives. Because I come from ‘big business’ and know applying many of the same principals are extremely effective in small businesses, I love having my hand in both sides when doing research. It keeps me from being stale; I love challenging the status quo.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: the unlimited potential.
If I had to start over again, I would have: wasted fewer resources due to inefficiency use of time.
I never imagined: balancing professional life and personal life would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: “Take the first step and have the courage of your convictions.”