In last week’s column, entrepreneurs were encouraged to enter a business plan competition and test the validity of their business ideas.
In 2013, it was a similar contest that encouraged Tina Schuelke, owner of Change Management Communications Center of Oshkosh to take the next steps in starting a business. In winning the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Partnership Business Contest, Schuelke gained more than an award.
“I lost my job in corporate America in 2012, and realized I was really particular about who I wanted to work for and with and how I could contribute to our local economy and community,” she said. “I decided I wanted to start my own business, but didn’t have a lot of confidence in being a business owner — I had a lot of confidence in being an employee.
The contest changed that. Schuelke initially struggled with the risk aspect, but decided the contest was a good test.
“If I enter this contest and can’t at least place, I’ll shelve the idea,” she said.
By winning, she knew she had a solid idea and a business model that could succeed. She worked on defining a market segment, writing financial projections and tuning up the plan with detailed research. As her life changed, she prepared to enter a field that would offer positive change.
Schuelke had spent 30 years working for companies and providing innovative ways of managing projects. Two of the projects she led were patented as trade secrets. With this experience, and training in 15 change management models and theories, the outline for the business took shape. One of the biggest challenges was explaining exactly what change management is.
“There was a low understanding of what change management is," Schuelke said. "I start by saying it is that great idea or thing you need to accomplish, but people get in the way because they are resistant to change and can get in the way of transformation. We specialize in changing human behavior that goes along with transformation and growth.”
Her company’s mission is to positively impact bottom line savings and create top line economic growth. The tag line is, “Advancing how business leaders address change.”
As an example, Schuelke said she will get a call from a company executive because a
project has derailed and they want to know how to fix it.
“They are feeling that pain,” she said. “We do an assessment to see what is needed, get a clear picture and design a proposal. Often, we find that there is something different that they need. Sometimes, there is information lacking or people need to learn how to communicate different or better. They might get leadership coaching to accomplish the work. It isn’t about changing the others’ behavior, it is changing your own so others can follow.”
Coaching might be needed, or it could be support, help with succession or exit planning, or leadership development. Other services include guiding clients as they test new business models, leading strategic planning sessions and helping create a vision for the future. The website, https://cmccfoxvalley.com, provides a complete list.
As the business has evolved in the past five years, services have been added and Schuelke has fine-tuned her business plan. The target market has narrowed, and the business model has been modified along with advancements in technology. What began with Schuelke as a solo practioner attending networking meetings to market the business and gain her first clients has become a team of eight. Her husband, Jim, left his job and joined the company last year.
From the business plan competition, Schuelke has proven what can be accomplished with an idea. Within the next year, her goal is to reach $2 million in sales, and within five years to develop the technologies that will continue to advance change.
“The benefit of entering a contest is that it helps identify who you are,” she said. “It is a great way to test ideas and get feedback. Plus, you might get some cash if you win or free mentorship.”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.