How it all started ...
Offer practical guidance, encourage character development and share spiritual insight to help others plan, start and grow businesses.
Experience + Interests = The Entrepreneur’s Friend
The Entrepreneur’s Friend came to life, fully formed, in my imagination on the morning of May 22, 2012. A lifetime entrepreneur, whether working within a corporation or not, I was attending a writer’s conference and wondering how I fit into the (new to me) world of publishing. As I awakened that morning, the convergence of three passions: writing, business and entrepreneurship, joined together with a name. My “elevator speech” rolled off my tongue and was well received as I shared it with others. My prayers had been answered. I knew I had found a way to fill a need using my expertise and experience.
So many people have a skill or talent, but do not know how to turn that into a business. And, even in these tough financial times, entrepreneurship can offer tremendous opportunity. But, it is not easy. Success is never guaranteed.
Let’s take a break during the week, share a cup of coffee, and see what we can learn from each other. I do not have all of the answers – and not every post will suit your situation. The posts are meant to encourage or spark ideas. “I hadn’t thought of that!”
I will be working in the dark. You will get to know me, but I will not know the specifics of your life, your business or your financial situation. This relationship, by its nature, will be almost completely one-sided. I will be pulling from a life-long connection to entrepreneurship. (Be sure to see the “Credentials” page.) You will get to know me, but I will not know the specifics of your life, your business or your financial situation. This is very different from the consulting relationships I have had since 1986, built on extensive two-way communication. So, please take it with a grain of salt and pull out the ideas and tools that you find helpful.
Suggestions made here should never be taken over that of accountants, lawyers, or other licensed professionals, who know the specifics of your business and life. I do not have expertise on legal or tax issues and am not a licensed professional of any type. But, I know I can help you achieve some of your goals!
Let’s meet again here at The Entrepreneur’s Friend.
Cynthia Wheaton, blogger-in-chief
Credentials: A Foundation in Entrepreneurship and Small Business
I have started businesses within corporations and on my own. Over the years, I have been educated by successes and failures– both experienced and observed. My biggest credential is that I was born to an entrepreneur. My father was a business owner, just as his father – and his mother – had been.
I was never told that anyone owed me a job, or paid vacation, or benefits. Or, that “work” is a bad thing. My parents were in high school during the Great Depression and they knew the value of a steady employment.
This is the message I was given by my father: “If the only job you can get is digging ditches, dig the best ones you can dig. Then, one day, they’ll make you the supervisor of the ditch diggers. Pay attention, and one day you can start your own ditch-digging business.”
My father loved self-employment because he could “get up every morning and decide what I want to do today.” Yes, he had business partners, but each one had an area of expertise in which he concentrated.
My mother often said, “The cream always rises to the top.” Keep trying, keep working, keep doing your best. You will succeed.
My parents gave me the tools to develop faith in God and faith in myself. Both have defined my life.
In 1975 I graduated from Meredith College with a BA in English and a second major in Business Administration. A weak economy sent me straight into graduate school, where I received a Master’s of Business Administration from University North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
Nearing graduation, I felt so honored to get a job offer from IBM, I turned down several small business opportunities and went to work for Big Blue. Just before entering a training program to learn Assembler coding, I resigned to take a more active and visually creative position at L’eggs Brands, Inc. There, I found my business footing and loved the job from day one. Much of my six years there was spent in learning the skills needed to introduce new products or start new businesses within the world of direct-to-consumer marketing.
In 1984, I felt the pull to a better job title and more balanced life at World Book Encyclopaedia in Chicago, where I had once — during a January business trip to the city — promised myself I would never reside. Despite small-city roots, I loved big city life immediately. Again, I helped develop new products, including a licensing venture with the Walt Disney Company.
Two years later, I was enticed to Kestnbaum & Company, a small but widely-respected Chicago consulting firm specializing in direct and database marketing. I had been a client while at L’eggs and was excited to join them. The work was wide-ranging and intellectually stimulating. A bonus was that I met my husband, who was also a consultant there.
In 1988, KCo, as we called it, was purchased by Arthur Andersen, the world-wide consulting operation. After an abbreviated orientation, which still spent hours on the dress code, I left for a much smaller operation, GRI. There, my last corporate job was in the World of Beauty Division, where I was responsible for all elements except product procurement. Although I did not know it when I joined, GRI was a sinking ship and went out of business shortly after I left. About a year after my arrival I departed to FINALLY start my own business.
From our home in Lincoln Park, just north of downtown Chicago, I created Strategic Insight as sole proprietor. That served as a base for consulting work, articles for industry publications and conference speeches for ten years. It also gave me geographic flexibility as our growing family moved from Chicago to Colorado to North Carolina.
The new millennium started with the development of Wheaton Group LLC. My husband and I started this partnership, which has been successful ever since. Still a boutique firm, we have grown — adding partners, employees, locations and clients. Business-to-Business clients have become a specialty.
Through all of my years in business, participation in my local church has been both a calling and a priority. I have found tremendous consistency between my Christian faith and best-practices in the world of commerce.
Now it is time for me to share in a new way – through The Entrepreneur’s Friend. My business and non-business interests, combined with my respect for anyone who runs his or her own business, have built the foundation to share the lessons I have learned.