I’m so excited to shake things up a bit and introduce a gal who is very familiar in the nonprofit space and has chosen the path of consulting! Brianne is an incredible gal I’ve known since right out of college; she’s smart and incredibly talented. Get to know a little more about her path!
What is the business you own?
I own B Greater Consulting – a nonprofit consulting company designed to work primarily with nonprofits in the areas of fundraising, marketing, communications, public relations, volunteer engagement, media relations, and project management.
My business is truly designed around what the nonprofit’s needs are. I’ve helped serve as a coach to a new fundraiser, managed interns, and even taken on projects as staff has turned over and the nonprofit is getting ready to re-hire. I find that there are consultants out there who’s expertise are within areas like strategic planning, board effectiveness/management, feasibility studies (and so forth), but little assistance is out there to help with short term projects where you might be a bit more in the weeds or provide staff support for a longer period of time to build capacity. Most importantly, there is a gap that I’ve found where a good majority of consultants out there haven’t ever worked in a nonprofit themselves, or it’s been way too long since they have. That’s where I come in.
To give an example, I can help a nonprofit with their marketing/communication needs while they build up the resources to hire someone full-time. I could also serve as a longer-term, very part time member of their team. I can write press releases, develop crisis plans, work on media relations, write speeches/copy/blogs/stories, work with their committees or staff to create marketing materials, and help them navigate their social media platforms (just to name a few things). I’m there to help fill a big need and allow for their team to focus on other important pieces of their work.
This example can prove beneficial if they have their marketing/communications work inside their development team where the person on staff really needs to be out hitting the pavement and asking for money, instead of in the office writing. Many of the things I offer can be completed at my home, taking up no space or technology services at the nonprofit. My time can be flexible too, and I can schedule office time as well.
What I also find that some nonprofits need is another ear – someone to listen and help them strategize about what they should or could do next. But sometimes this person should have a different background than a volunteer, board member, or another staff member. They need to have been in their shoes, understand the nonprofit environment, and provide a unique perspective. They need to work alongside them not as a contractor, but as a partner.
When did you start side-hustling + why?
I started because I have a wealth of knowledge and experience that others were telling me that I should share…but I shouldn’t offer it all for free all the time. I found that I was consistently in conversations with many in the nonprofit industry where they needed advice, curious who might be able to help them, or frustrated that another consultant didn’t deliver quite what they wanted when working with them.
I was giving away my expertise because I wanted to help them – help the industry – and didn’t look at it as an opportunity to make money until a few good friends and one of my mentors pushed me to look at it differently. I truly believe that a rising tide rises all ships, so I took at look at what others in the nonprofit consulting arena were offering and went a slightly different way. I’m really an extension of their team. It’s an amazing feeling for me, and a great opportunity for the nonprofit.
There is another side-hustle I’m working on that connects directly to this that is gaining ‘legs’ and will have more on that to come. It made sense that this side-hustle for me start before the other. (I promise to share more as soon as I can – but it’s big!)
What have you done to make some extra money?
My clients have come to me from word of mouth. A friend who had mentioned to me several times that I should start up a consulting business was the first client I had. Others have come from referrals or conversations I’ve had with them as I’ve learned about their needs. Some day I would like to say that this business can bring in enough ‘extra’ money to become a full-time job for me, but for now it’s been incredibly helpful to have money to pay off debts and pay for family vacations.
What would you say to others interested in side hustling?
I’ll put it out there and say that I waited way too long to start going after my dream, however that is okay. Sometimes you have a dream that you haven’t realized in its entirety quite yet, or it takes others to bring it out of you. Sometimes you need to have the right time devoted to your craft so that when you make the decision, it can happen more seamlessly.
I wouldn’t have the experiences under my belt that would make working with me appealing if I didn’t wait. I knew I needed to get my masters (decided my Masters in Philanthropy & Nonprofit Development was a great compliment), as I’m a continual learner. I became a CNP – a certified nonprofit professional – so that I could also help others realize the accreditation is available and obtainable. I still have more to go (next goal is my accreditation in public relations), and so on.
I also am married and have three kids (ages 13, 10 and 5), so I needed to find a good time for our family to make this decision. I’ve lived in large and small communities in Iowa where I’ve held a variety of positions inside a nonprofit, and as a volunteer. I’ve pushed myself into uncomfortable positions where I could learn more and build upon my craft. I’ve taken on leadership positions so that I could build experiences that weren’t offered to me through my full-time jobs. I made a big effort to learn, try new things, and not be concerned with what people thought about me and just be me.
To this day, I don’t even have everything figured out yet, but that’s okay. It took this type A person to find a way to be okay with that. Bottom line – there is never a perfect time, but you have to do what works for you.
What has been the biggest challenge on your side hustle/business journey?
I’ve had two big challenges so far. The first is finding the time to do more when I really want to take on more. I’ve had to turn away opportunities when the timing hasn’t been right. But I think everyone with a side-hustle tends to live in this space for a while at some point in their journey.
The second is making the decision to be okay with saying no. Not just saying no when I don’t have the time but saying no when it’s not the right fit. This could happen when I’m approached to partner with a nonprofit for something that I determine they truly aren’t ready for, and it wouldn’t be the best use of my time or their time.
This could also happen with unrealistic expectations are on the negotiating table, and I’ve had to turn the opportunity down. I never want to be the consultant that will take on any opportunity just to have the income and ‘make it work’ – if I’m not the best person for the job then I won’t take it. Likewise, if the opportunity doesn’t meet my values, I won’t take it. That’s been a challenge for me when I am constantly working to lift others up along the way. What I do instead is share why it’s not a good fit and offer guidance if they will accept it. I’ve also worked to suggest others in the field that might be able to help.
What has been the greatest reward?
The greatest reward has been in the feedback I’ve received during or after the time I’ve worked with a nonprofit concludes. When you hear that you’ve delivered something that has been well-beyond someone’s expectations or helped lay the groundwork for future success, you know that you’ve done your job.
Head over to Brianne’s site soon to learn more!