Where Are They Now? Follow Up with Your College Process Founder Lisa Goldstein
Innovation Destination Hartford met with Your College Process Founder Lisa Goldstein in January 2018 (read the interview: Connecticut Entrepreneur Founds College Planning Startup).
Launched in 2017, the woman-owned business provides college planning services to students throughout Connecticut. IDH Website Curator Nan Price caught up with Lisa, who shared updates about her startup.
NAN PRICE: You’re in your second year of business ownership. What have you learned along the way?
LISA GOLDSTEIN: I’ve learned that business ownership is more than just sitting on your computer all day and trying to get the work done. That was one of the struggles I talked about in our first interview, feeling a little isolated.
So, I’ve learned the importance of getting out, whether it’s through a networking group or connecting with other women in the community. These interactions can help get the word out about your business and it’s helpful to learn about other local small business owners. I’ve been meeting people who inspire and motivate me because they’ve started their own businesses and I see how successful they are.
NAN: Last time you mentioned marketing was a learning process. How’s it going?
LISA: My my business, I find it’s less about doing online marketing. It’s more about meeting people in person, whether it’s local tutors, therapists, pediatricians. I find crossover where I wouldn’t necessarily expect it. The networking groups help with that, too. I meet a lot of people who know someone who could use my services. That’s actually where I get the most business leads. You never know where you’ll get a referral.
NAN: In our initial interview, you mentioned budgeting as a challenge. Now that you’re further along, have you experienced additional business growth challenges?
LISA: Competition is one challenge—and not from other businesses, but from potential clients. There’s a lot of competition among parents to have the child the most prepared for their college admissions. So, I’ll have people refer me to students in the grade below or maybe from a different school, but not so much another student in the same grade as their child who may be applying at the same colleges.
Another challenge is with pricing. I’ve learned not to undervalue myself. Starting out, I wanted to be affordable and I wanted people to be able to access the services, because I think they’re important for everyone. But I found I was charging so little for an “unlimited package” that, by the time I put unlimited hours in, it really wasn’t worth my time for what I was charging. I wasn’t making very much if you do the math per hour.
I talked to other small business owners, who told me I need to value myself because I’m providing a service that’s important and useful for people, so they are willing to pay for it because it’s valuable to them. But, I still struggle with pricing. I have raised my prices somewhat since I started, although I was resistant at first.
Another challenge is time management. I have a new baby and an older daughter. Trying to balance all those things—parenting, working with students, marketing, billing, going to a networking event—even making time to meet someone for coffee. You have to be structured, organized, and deliberate with how you spend your time.
NAN: How would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?
LISA: I would describe myself as a learner. I’m trying to soak up as much as I can from other entrepreneurs, because it’s not the path I initially saw for myself. But I’m finding entrepreneurship fits my lifestyle and my personality. I like being able to set my own hours, create my own business from scratch, and do things the way I want with my own vision.
I like to help people. My background is in counseling. The best part of my job is seeing students’ hard work pay off. I find that very gratifying and it makes me enjoy the work I’m doing.
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