Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Cornelia “Miss Co” Malloy and I started an online consulting business, BT Neil Consulting. I use social media as a platform to promote and market my business and brands (Miss Co’s Tee Line and God’s Girl). I also have implemented affiliate marketing as part of my business with the hopes of landing some pay-per-click sponsorship opportunities.
My main product is a digital booklet that can be downloaded from my website that includes free resources on career, business, and wedding planning just to name a few but the focus is on long-term care placement in a nursing facility. The customers targeted are those in search of nursing home placement for themself or a loved one.
My free resources are geared toward high school students needing workforce development, entrepreneurs stuck on how to get started, a couple on a low budget or going the path of a shotgun wedding, human resource managers/staff specialists, and even CEOs that are open to an objective point of view that could boost company morale.
I am still in the stage of getting my business name out there and building awareness of what I have to offer. I have not made any big money yet but I remain consistent and I operate as if I already have the followers and customers I want.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have always desired to have my own business. I just didn’t know what it would be. In college, I majored in Business Administration because of this desire, even though I didn’t know exactly what direction I was headed in. After graduating with my undergrad degree I still had no idea what type of business I wanted so of course, I started working 8-5 jobs that I wasn’t passionate about however I had bills to pay and other goals to achieve.
As time went on, I decided to go back to school to pursue my Master’s degree still unsure of what my business would be and at this point was starting to feel it wasn’t going to happen. I completed my Master’s program and again continued in the cycle of getting jobs that were not my passion but again paid the bills.
I even had to take a lower-paying job due to a situation out of my control and that was a hard season for me. I started struggling financially and I was not satisfied with the job I had at the time, so I looked to God and said “Your word says you give us the ability to create wealth, Lord what is my ability to create wealth?” Soon after I started making gift baskets for a male friend that ended up turning into a side business. Aha, now I got it, a gift basket business!
Well as time went on I was creating baskets, selling baskets, doing pretty good but I just didn’t have the feeling on the inside that this was the business locked within me and so I started looking deeper within, and then all these other ideas started coming. I had about 5 business ideas that came to mind and I thought to myself I don’t want 5 brick and mortar type businesses which is what led me into online consulting.
The funny thing is even though my business is online, I still ended up having other businesses and other means of potential income other than consulting. I soon realized I had a niche for creating documents in Microsoft Word and Publisher, I’m always on the internet looking up information and I’m very computer savvy. So with my business background, I combined all the ideas into one and that’s how BT Neil Consulting came into play. The name is derived from my gift basket business (Baskets and Things by Neil). So I thought I had my “Aha” moment before nope this was it! Something inside of me leaped as I began to pursue the consulting side of the business which did not include how to make gift baskets, imagine that!
The reason my consulting business is centered around long-term care placement in a nursing facility is that for the past 7 years, I have worked in a long-term care facility as the Director of Social Services. I’m a referral source and I help guide people through the placement process and I hear all the time “Hunny this is foreign to me, I have no idea what I’m doing” or they’ll say “I know y’all are here to help but I’m clueless to what you’re talking about” and it just started to make sense.
Landing this position really helped me develop the concept and the direction of my business. I decided to implement some of the free resources because of my own struggle with finding the right career and starting a business. Then it’s the resources that were introduced by my own experiences such as I was asked to direct a wedding, mind you, I had never directed a wedding before but I had a handy dandy outline to follow and it was a great success! So I thought to myself if I could do it, anyone can!
So I created a wedding planning template, which includes a wedding director cheat sheet, that others can use to plan and organize a wedding. Lastly, I chose to include information on how to boost company morale based on my work experience with a former employer. The experience was definitely an eye-opener and I saw where I could use it now to build my brand/business.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
One benefit of having an online business, I didn’t have an overhead cost and was able to eliminate other expenses, however, most of my time was spent in the development of my website, creating my social media platforms, and then linking my social media pages to my website. A very tedious process.
Initially, I was creating information packets that I call “bundles” using Microsoft Word then I would convert them over to PDF format. I would create each bundle individually as the idea/concept would come. Then I would share each bundle to my social media pages and add each one to my website.
I was charging separately for each bundle download and it dawned on me to make my business more appealing to my customers to bundle all the bundles (All In One) together and instead of selling each bundle separately, offer some of the information as free resources (i.e. career info, business start-up, etc) and so my All In One Bundle ended up being a booklet. So really people are paying for the information I provide on long-term care placement since this is my area of expertise and knowledge. They are getting the other information for free.
Describe the process of launching the business.
You remember that male friend I mentioned in response to a previous question the one I started making gift baskets for, yeah him. Well, I decided to launch my consulting business on his birthday. It just made perfect sense especially since he was the reason I tapped into the entrepreneurial part of me that lied within.
I had my logo put on T-shirts and had family and friends purchase shirts to wear on the day of my launch party. I myself was wearing a bright yellow shirt that said “Shop with me” and some hot pink pants and bright yellow high heels, trying to set the tone for my business! Before the launch, I had a mini photo shoot with a few friends and I used some of those pics on my website. I then posted to my Facebook page showing a sneak peek of the shoot and announcing BT Neil Consulting. On the day of my official launch party, I also had a mini photoshoot, as well as pictures of the event and I posted those to my Facebook business page then shared them to my personal page.
I’m a very resourceful person and believe in keeping things simple so I really didn’t spend a lot of money launching my business. I took advantage of free resources available and of course social media. Most of the money spent was from buying marketing items from vistaprint.com and then there were some items I was able to create on my own.
My biggest concern was getting my website ready by my launch date, which I did. I had a launch party amongst family and friends showing off all my hard work and I tried to highlight each part of my consulting business with its own theme. My launch party was a great success. I even included a short video of my launch party on my website. Of course, my business has changed since my launch party and new concepts have been implemented.
The biggest lesson I learned in the process was that I should have started sooner.
Gaining and retaining customers is still a work in progress. People see me and they’ll say they like what I’m doing or my business is unique so hopefully this will lead them to at least sharing my business even if they don’t need any of my services.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My business is not very profitable right now but I’m looking for that to change any day now. As Tyler Perry said, all it takes is that “one” person to say yes or in my case see a post, video, etc. and it will go from there!
I also plan on running more ads on Facebook and Instagram to see if that makes much of a difference. I’m really trying to build my social media following on all platforms but I know it will not happen overnight. So I focus on one platform at a time, two at the most. Right now I have people that like and follow me but they’re not buying. I need the right people to like and follow my pages if I want to see a profit. There's no need to have 500 or 5000 likes or followers from family, friends, coworkers, etc and all they do is “watch” what you’re doing.
Even though I have other means of potential income, all my sales are directed to online purchases through my website, my nail business, my T-shirt line, and my affiliates (Tara Lynn’s Boutique, Walmart, Dollar Tree), and all these links can be found at BTNEIL.COM. As my subscribers grow on YouTube I look forward to being able to receive monetary benefits by advertising through their platform.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Well, considering I was starting an online business. I had to do a lot of reading and research and some of the terms I did not understand. So it took me a while to get an understanding of some of the tools available to use for a business such as mine and I’m still yet learning. I have also learned to keep my business in my mind because sometimes I come in contact with people who could benefit from the services I provide and I forget to mention it to them or someone may say something that opens the door for me to mention my consulting business and I fail to say anything.
I need to be better about talking about my services and taking advantage of even the smallest opportunity to gain a customer. I need to be quicker on my feet so to speak because I do realize the business is not going to work itself, I must work the business. And this raises another point just because my business is online doesn’t mean I have to put any less effort into it because it’s not a storefront business.
With that in mind, I post often on my social media platforms. I try to create interesting content on my Instagram blog. Funny videos on my YouTube page, things like that to build an audience. Trust me it’s easier said than done but I’m going to keep at it!
I’m also currently working on some partnerships with local organizations that can help give my business the exposure it needs and build my brand’s awareness.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My favorite tools are the social media platforms, Google for business and I love the concept of Send Owl because once someone purchases my bundle (booklet) from me, Send Owl automatically downloads it to them. I think that’s so cool. And of course, I dare not fail to mention the webs.com free website tool that I used to create and build my website and because of their free and easy to use set up, I can easily go and make changes as needed.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I must say listening to Steve Harvey’s story from rags to riches really resonated with my spirit and I heard him sharing his story during a time when I was in the beginning stages of developing my business which encouraged me to keep going because I was on the right path. There are others but his story comes to mind. To me, it was God using him at that moment to grab my attention and let me know I was headed in the right direction.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Don’t give up! If you have a vision/idea for business keep going. Yes, you will be discouraged especially when those that you expect to support and celebrate don’t just know that something greater is on the horizon for you. Your business may take off and it may not but don’t lose heart. Believe in yourself, see your business growing, expanding, and being a great success! The only person that can stop your vision is you! I have not made any big money yet but I will as long as I remain consistent and keep going!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now I’m not looking to hire anyone but I would love to have some volunteers sign up with me as a D.I.G. volunteer to help me promote and market my business. And as my vision grows maybe help out with research and looking up information for potential clients.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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