Tell me a little about you and your company.
Hello! I’m Dannie Fountain of LE Consulting! I’m a native Michigander who recently made the move to Chicago and I’m loving the hustle and bustle of being in a much more populated area. I have a passion for travel and have certifications in open water diving and flight (student pilot), so I often tell clients that I can look at their marketing challenges from literally every angle! I have a BA in Media & Marketing Management from Albion College and an MS in Human Resource Management from Indiana Wesleyan University and I combine skills from the two to do much of my client work today.
How long have you owned your own business?
I’ve officially been in business since 2012, but you know how these things go – I’ve actually been freelancing since about 2009.
What made you decide to start your own business?
LE Consulting was actually started as a nonprofit venture, creating resumes and cover letters for low-income individuals! We really enjoyed helping them but also recognized that to be a more sustainable business and have the staying power we wanted, there needed to be a for-profit component as well. Today, we still offer those resume and career development services from time to time but primarily we’re a full-service marketing agency.
What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Oh goodness! My mentor early on told me that it’s important to hang on to the reason why you went into business in the first place. On your “darkest days”, this will serve as a reminder of why you do what you do and on your best days it will remain a celebration of the fact that you get to pursue your passion!
What do you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
Specialize, specialize, specialize! When LE Consulting got started, people came to me and said “can you do this?” Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to work on, if I had the skillset, I said yes. However, four years later, we’re now trying to rein all those offerings in and narrow it down to what we love most and it’s not easy, not even a little bit!
What are the three skills that new entrepreneurs need in order to succeed?
The absolute biggest skill entrepreneurs need is humility. I don’t mean humility in the prideful sense, but humility in terms of the ability to receive customer criticism and apply it to better the business without taking it too personally.
Another critical skill is organization (or a really good VA). It’s okay to be a person that isn’t organized but having systems in place is crucial to running a business. If you know this isn’t something you’re good at, bring someone on (or trade services with someone) from the beginning so that your business is always a well-oiled machine!
Finally, being self-motivated is a must. It’s way too easy for me to just slip into “Netflix and chill” some nights when there’s client work to be done, but I motivate myself to do client work and deliver quality services. As a new entrepreneur, this is even more important because you’re more focused on advertising/finding clients than you are completing actual client work (at least in the very beginning).
What routines do you have in place to help your days run smoothly?
Having official office hours is the most important thing, otherwise, I’d probably be working 24/7. I also automate a large portion of the onboarding process to ensure that each client receives the same high quality content and I don’t miss a step. Finally, I have set days for set “business administration” tasks that I mix in with client work (i.e. Tuesday is social media/blogging and Wednesday is collaborations).
How do you find balance as an entrepreneur?
Balance has become a key focus for me in 2016, as I realized I don’t actually have it. In 2015 and previous years, I would find myself working while on vacation, working the whole weekend, and even checking emails while out and about with my partner. Setting business hours and taking one full weekend (Friday-Sunday) off per month has really helped rein in the “constantly working” thing.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
For me, it’s the ability to be truly respected for my skills and accomplishments. I’m a younger twenty-something with a Master’s degree. That’s all well and good, but it was actually a detriment for me in the corporate world because I had the skills (and the experience) but not the age and wisdom. Being an entrepreneur allows me to truly showcase those skills and help others without age being a barrier.
What do you do to unwind?
Truthfully, it’s not often that I take the time to unwind. I schedule two major trips per year (this year it’s Budapest and Italy/Greece) and looking forward to those trips provides me motivation and peace. However, I also recognize that everyone needs to unwind once in a while. Lately my form of unwinding has been learning how to play video games! I never played them growing up and now I’m learning how to drift my kart in MarioKart, keep Mario on his Yoshi in SuperMario, and rescue Merida’s mom in Brave.
What is a project that you are working on right now or just finished?
I’m actually in the process of launching the Side Hustle Gal. It’s a project focusing on women who run their business as a “part-time entrepreneur” (even though we know side hustles are never a part-time gig). I’m currently wrapping up the written portion, but the full project will launch Q3. You can sign up over on the Side Hustle Gal website for email notifications about the project.
How can people get in touch with you?