Tag: training

A picture of Brian teaching
DesignTraining and Development

Villager Brian – Training Solutions

Website: http://4-elearning.com

Brian started Strategic Learning Solutions in 1994. He’s shared some of his background below. Very interesting to see how little opportunities crop up and lead us in new directions. Brian’s shared some great advice in his comments below. A picture of Brian teaching

Why did I start my business?

I’d always thought about being an independent consultant, after years of consulting for other companies.

My big break came when I resigned my position as a consultant to the Department of Energy (DOE). I had been developing a training program on “Conduct of Operations” for senior DOE managers, and had just started teaching a series of workshops on the subject. My replacement was hired and for two weeks I coached him on the program and how to teach the lesson plan.

On my last day, the replacement was supposed to teach his first class, when out of the blue, he quit. This threw the contract into a state of panic, my manager, the two of the clients managers and I went to lunch to discuss the situation; at Spago’s in Caesars Palace no less. They tried to get me to withdraw my resignation, but I’d already rented a house in Florida, the moving van was packed and gone. The next suggestion was for me to take the project as an independent consultant to complete the remainder of the scheduled workshops.

I accepted their offer; this was the beginning of Strategic Learning Solutions.

For the next six months, I alternated between three weeks in Las Vegas, and then three weeks at home. After that I picked up a six-month contract auditing the Alaska Pipeline Corporation. Since then I’ve had four large contracts with Lockheed Martin, a second contract with the Alaska Pipeline Corporation, three contracts with a GPS Duratek, a waste management company, a year long contract to write procedures for the Trojan Nuclear Plant decommissioning, and IT companies like CSC and ActioNet and more recently to design/develop training programs for guards and staff at the GEO Group, a private prison system.

How do I market my services?

  • Networking – Every contract I’ve signed has come about through networking. You live and die by who you know and how well you stay connected. I can’t emphasize this enough, you’ve got to stay connected and speak or write to everyone on your contact list at least every six months; if nothing more than to say hello and find out what they are doing. I’d also remind everyone that this relationship is a two way street, your contacts will help you if you help them. I keep notes about what everyone is doing and if they ask for something, I try to deliver.
  • Deliver what you promise – Make sure you deliver on your projects. Most of my contracts come through people I’ve worked with before. They remember that I delivered projects that met or exceeded expectation, and were on time and within budget. One word of caution here is to avoid “Scope Creep” on your project (or at least document it well). Clear, honest, and frequent communication with your customer is essential to making a project successful.
  • Relationships – Get along with everyone you work with, especially in the clients organization. You are not the star of the show, your customer is. Do anything you can do to make your customer look good. Go out of your way to be friendly to everyone, especially those that are difficult to like, you’ll be surprised how often this effort is rewarded.

Was it worth the effort?

In a word, Yes. Being able to set your own schedule is my personal favorite, but there are other perks like having lots of new adventures. I’ve worked on contracts from Portland Maine, to Portland Oregon; contracts in Alaska and contracts in Jamaica; contracts as diverse as the Lockheed F-16 and F-22 programs, decommissioning the Trojan and Maine Yankee Nuclear Plants, conducting cause investigations for defects in chemical and nuclear weapons storage containers, designing training for prison guards and lots of other interesting projects. I like change and love travel, so this has been the best of all careers for me.

There have been challenges and some periods when I would have liked a steady job. Fortunately, the challenges were overcome and the periods of uncertainty were short.

Welcome to Nudge Village Brian!

You’ve offered excellent advice to our village!

DesignTeachingTraining and Development

Villager Danalyn – E-learning and Performance Solutions

Website: http://www.breakthrulearn.com Danalyn


What motivated you to start Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC? I started Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC because I desired more flexibility and greater control over my finances. I was determine to start my own business after realizing an employer was billing me out at 5 times my compensation. A few years after that decision, the business was established.


When did you start your business? 1996

Break Thru Learning

When did you realize you had a talent/interest in your particular area? In 2003, I found out about, and eventually enrolled in, a graduate program for instructional technology. Although I had a technical background, I was always drawn to education. I was very excited to find a program that combined education and technology.

Do you do this full-time or part-time? I’m currently working PT. With additional assignments, I plan to work FT.

What lessons have you learned along the way? Building your business takes constant effort. Don’t become complacent with your present clientele.

How do you market your business? Any particular ideas that worked best for you? Networking works. I would like to step up efforts in Marketing.

DesignPaintingTraining and Development

Villager Kim – Design on and off the web

Illustration of kids playing on the back of a truck

Summer on the truck

Primary Website: www.kimjolly.com(for professional elearning development, communication graphics, presentations, web design/dev)

Additional Website:  www.freewebs.com/interiorreflections/ (for decorative painting – murals and faux finishing)

Notes from Kim

 I’ve started and stopped multiple businesses over the past 10 years.  Why did I keep stopping? Two primary, but related, reasons:

  • Kids – I have kids…no time for work, building my skills, attending industry events (and no money to attend for that matter)
  •  Time and Money – As an entrepreneur, unless you have some sort of stockpile of money that you can pull from, it’s very difficult to start/maintain the business unless you have a full-time job.  But there-in lies the “catch”…because you have a full-time job, you have little to no time to invest in your businesses.

For now (since I have a full-time job), I take on projects that I know I can handle in a weekend or in the evenings from home. For now, it will have to do…

What motivated you to start your own business? Being my own boss/setting my own schedule/flexibility between work and family… outlet for my creativity (keeps me more “grounded”)

When did you first start your own business? My first business was in fashion design (in 1997)…didn’t make enough money; too much time and overhead.  My second business was in web design/development (2002), called “OKAYwebs”.  Third business was in decorative painting  (2004).  Last, with Kim Jolly (2009)..


What motivated you to start your own business, or in your case, multiple businesses? When I realized how quickly I was able to learn and then execute a finished product…coupled with all the positive feedback and encouragement I received…not just from friends and family, but from those in the actual profession(s).  Seemed “natural” (corny, I know)

Do you do this full or part-time? Part-time for now…would love to do any of my businesses full time.  Timing seems to be everything

Any lessons learned that you’d like to share? Practice, learn as much as you can, network, don’t underestimate word-of-mouth…don’t let you baby crawl around your computer while you’re working (mine just pushed the Power button and I had to restart this email…HA!).  When you’re first starting out…you may want to consider doing some things for “free” to build your portfolio quickly and get the “word-of-mouth” going.  Also, in the beginning, have “Promotions” as incentives to potential customers.  Get your website up and business cards done as quickly as possible…keep your cards ON HAND AT ALL TIMES…you may never know who you’ll run into in the grocery store.

How do you market your business?  Through my website (utilizing SEO), business cards (hand-in-hand), portfolio, networking, word of mouth. I used to do some direct mail pieces…too costly and old-school – email marketing is better.  If your work isn’t conducive to a “portfolio” have some sort of Customer/Client package that you can give to the customer – brochure(s), fliers, info about your business, testimonials, etc…

Can we talk to you in a few months to find out where you are at? Progress? I’m open for interviewing…I don’t know what I can share as I seriously doubt I will have done much work within my businesses anytime soon.

 Thanks for this opportunity!!

See some of the murals Kim has designed and painted here.

RWL Tech logo
DesignNudge BlogTeachingTechnologyTraining and Development

Villager Cheryl – Learning Solutions

Web Address:  www.readwritetechnology.com
Portfolio:  http://readwritetechnology.com/cms/content/portfolio

RWL logoWhat motivated you to start your own business? I started my business with virtually no experience or knowledge of training.  I started working with people who have disabilities and wanted to use assistive technology to access computer technology.

There were no user friendly manuals or instructions for the products so I started creating my own.  I found that I had to address quite a few different people, their needs and their learning styles. Through trial and error I learned a lot about what makes people learn and what motivates them to transfer that learning in meaningful ways in their lives.  I ended up going back to school to validate what I already learned through hands on activities and real life experience.  I came to realize how learning can transform people’s lives.  It proved to be a rewarding experience that I wanted to continue developing in my life.
When did you start your business?  1994

When did you realize you had a talent/interest in your particular area? I started to realize that I had a talent for creating meaningful learning experiences when I became a premiere partner with a voice recognition technology provider and they started seeking out my services for the majority of their big clients.

Check out Cheryl’s portfolio
Do you do this full-time or part-time? I currently work full time but am working my way toward early retirement in the next five years.
What lessons have you learned along the way? What would you tell someone just starting out?I would encourage people to learn to work hard to change the paradigms that currently exist around learning.  We are in a transitional period and those who really understand what motivates, inspires and helps people learn will be rewarded with transformational experiences that make a difference in the world we live in.

How do you market your business? Networking

Can we come back and interview you again in a few months to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures?  Sure

Nudge Blog

Tip – leveraging YouTube

We all know, or think we know, all about YouTube! It is one of the most viewed sites in the world.

However, beyond all of the funny skits, pranks and football bloopers, there are quite a few individuals and companies leveraging it to grow their business and get their message out – with little effort and zero cost (but, for your valuable time).

Although it might not make sense for everyone, think of using YouTube for the following:

  • New product launch – Announcing a new product you are ready to launch.
  • Brief training – how to use your product, how you can help, share little helpful tips.
  • Share user stories – video snippets from customers of how your product or service helped them.
  • Explaining change – if your organization is going through a big change, taking the time to talk to customers through video messages.

Now, YouTube can be linked or embedded in most blog sites, on Facebook, parts of LinkedIn and other social collaboration and networking tools.

Here’s a few examples below – some large organizations, some small and some barely starting to use YouTube.




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