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Categorized | Business Authors

Black and White Strike Gold: Practical Nuggets to Grow Your Business from the Women Who Launched Consultants 2 Go, a Multi-Million Company

black and white strike goldSandi Webster and Peggy McHale are the principals of Consultants 2 Go, a marketing company that provides consultants to Fortune 500 corporations and midsize companies. Together, they have spent years advising clients on the latest trends and strategies in marketing. They have a combined total of over 40 years of senior management experience in companies such as American Express, AT&T, Saks Fifth Avenue and. They have managed all facets of new product launches, created and executed national direct mail campaigns, website launches and telemarketing programs.

They are the recent authors of a business book, Black and White Strike Gold: Practical Nuggets to Grow Your Business from the Women Who Launched Consultants 2 Go, a Multi-Million Company. This book takes a brutally honest look at the daily trials and tribulations of being a small business owner. They tackle motivational, financial and social topics with their own personal spin on how all three impacted their consulting business.

They belong to organizations including Women Presidents’ Organization, NAWBO, NAFE, New Jersey Technology Council and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Chambers of Commerce.

A book synopsis.

Black and White Strike Gold is the essential manual for creating and running a successful business. When Sandi Webster and Peggy McHale, racially mixed business partners, launched Consultants 2 Go® in 2002, they had years of corporate experience and plenty of research to guide their way. But none of it prepared them for the difficulties of landing their first paying client, hiring the right staffers or the downside of their company hitting the million-dollar level. Their story of how they made the shift from corporate to entrepreneurial success will make you laugh and nod your head in acknowledgement.

Why did you write this book?

As a part of corporate networks, we speak to company employees all the time. Employees were intrigued as to why we decided to start our management consulting business instead of finding another corporate job, how we went about it after leaving the corporate world and how we grew the business. We decided to write this book as an answer to some of those questions as well as to document the process that we used to grow our business. We also find we must live by what we say in the book so it keeps us straight as readers are always quoting passages back to us.

Do you have a blog, what is the link, what do you talk about in your blog?

An archive of current and past blogs can be found at http://www.consultants2go.com/c2gmain/c2g-blog. Each week, we discuss a chapter in our book and expand on the tips that we gave to include more detailed “how-to” information.

Do you do speaking events? What are some common ones that you do on a regular basis? What do you talk about?

We frequently speak to women in transition, employees who are in danger of being displaced, women interest networks, outplacement firms, students who are considering entrepreneurship as a major in college, high school students who do not want to work in the corporate world, and women’s conferences.

By far, we speak more frequently to middle-aged people who have just been displaced and are considering consulting as an option while they are looking for another permanent job. We speak to them about the differences between being an employee and being a consultant. We walk them thru some of the advantages and disadvantages of both, giving them an eye-opening view to the consulting world.

Another group that we speak to is college students who are graduating and have no jobs on the horizon due to the tough economy. We present internships in marketing and consulting companies as an opportunity for them. We do not advocate that they can immediately become one of our consultants because they need an average of ten years of experience.

Do you do your own marketing or PR? What is a good marketing / PR stratgey for a budding author?

Yes, we do our own marketing and PR as well as supplement with a PR company for short bursts of event communication. We engaged a PR firm when our book was launched and gave them a very direct strategy. They got us on talk shows, blog participations and book reviews. We took care of the speaking engagements and book signings. A budding author who does not know anyone in the business will need to engage a PR firm in order to get prime speaking engagements. PR firms have already built a relationship with the talk shows so it’s much easier for them to get in than if the new author did it on their own. It is also time-consuming to make cold calls to potential talk or radio show bookers, especially if you have a day job. The author can reach out to contacts that they know, such as their churches, local organizations to which they belong or Chambers of Commerce.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?

We entered social media in a big way. Previous to the book, I sporadically used social media. I would read blog entries that were sent to me or tweet events that were taking place around town. When we launched the book, we created a social media strategy. We blogged on each chapter in the book on a weekly basis. Once the blog was published, we used Ping.fm to deploy the link to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The C2G team then deployed to their connections as well.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

We use WordPress for our blog; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Doostang and Ping.fm are all free online tools that we use.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

We do not have employees in our business. Our entire team is made up of over 600 consultants who are in our network. We utilize consultants for our own business development, recruiting and marketing efforts. At any given time, we have between 30-50 consultants on billing.

What is the best advice you never got?

Someone should have told me to build my personal brand while I was in corporate America. I was building the company brand and took very little time to do speaking engagements on behalf of the company. Thankfully, I learned later in my corporate career that I will need to have a name to network once I left that environment, so I started to volunteer and take on tasks and projects that allowed me to network with teams in other companies. I wish someone had told me how important that was so I could start a lot earlier. Once we wrote the book, we were able to reach out to Women Interest Networks in the corporations that were familiar with us from corporate for speaking engagements and book signings.

What is the one thing that you did right?

We took the time to create business and marketing plans before we started the business and we did an outline of the book before we wrote it. This allowed us to run thru different examples that we would use for each chapter. We were able to move around chapters and put bullet points as to what the chapters would contain. In the end, it allowed Peggy and I to work on separate chapters and still make the outcome a cohesive effort.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

The biggest transition that I had to make was to set aside time on my calendar to write my blogs. When I had to write full-length articles, I had plenty of time to write and rewrite. Now, many of my blogs are turned into articles so they have to be meaty enough to grab the reader’s attention. Because we blog about a particular chapter on a weekly basis, I also have to be careful not to repeat what’s in the chapter and has become creative as to how to enhance the material in the book.

What book(s) have you read that you would recommend to others

Write Outta My Mind by Gioya McCrae was one of the first books that I read in order to understand the publishing businesses – you can find her a www.mochamind.com. I do have to say that I attended seminars and workshops more than I read books. Local libraries have many seminars on publishing.

In 50 words or less, write a paragraph stating why readers should buy your book and what they will get out of it after reading it.

We discuss the day-to-day mundane things that keep the business running as well as the key decisions that need to be made; it shows we are vulnerable to making mistakes but learn from them. Readers will walk away feeling that they are not alone in their small business.

Sandi Webster and Peggy McHale, Black and White Strike Gold: Practical Nuggets to Grow Your Business from the Women Who Launched Consultants 2 Go, a Multi-Million Company; http://www.consultants2go.com/c2gmain/c2g-publishing/about-the-book

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