Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Suzanne Olson, owner of Brilliant Workplaces, located in Cooperstown, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Brilliant Workplaces is a consulting firm specializing in marketing, customer experience, service, and culture change. We help organizations clearly articulate and communicate their brand vision, create a collaborative culture, and implement effective systems to deliver exceptional customer experiences that drive sales performance.

Many businesses say they want to focus on the customer to create more loyalty and sales but have no idea where to start. That is where we come in - our clients are mid-sized to large businesses that might not have a marketing department, want to improve their customer engagement, design a customer service culture, or train their leaders on specific skills. We are not a typical consulting agency, as we work side by side with our clients and their teams. We take businesses from the status quo - to being brilliant - and standing out among the competition.

Tell us about yourself

I started my career in marketing and events and gained experience in brand and product marketing, targeted marketing/CRM, and digital marketing working in grocery retail. However, after moving to store operations in customer service and experience, I found my passion. I felt very connected and inspired by working with people to create systems for process improvement that resulted in better customer experiences. You never know what someone is going through, and making their experience better – even in a small way - can have an impact on their life.

I started Brilliant Workplaces because I want to help more businesses share their story, create better experiences, and ultimately be more profitable to invest in their teams. The entire Brilliant Workplaces shares a passion for building and growing brands, digital experience, customer service, and operations, and we are motivated by knowing we have helped our customers succeed.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Brilliant Workplaces has had many business successes, but one of our key accomplishments is our ability for clients to not see us as vendors but as an extension of the team. Recently, the Senior Vice President of one of our clients told me that our work was brought up in a meeting, and we were given a “shout out” in front of a large leadership meeting for our ability to partner, listen, and bring new ideas and perspective to the organization. Providing great customer service and being part of the client business is important to me personally and in business.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve had in my career. One of the most difficult things I’ve experienced as a business owner is knowing how and when to scale properly. I have learned to prioritize better and let go of control (and some profit) by hiring others and contracting services that are not a good use of my time. Once I was able to let go and get help, I was able to focus on working on my business instead of in my business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. For anyone looking to start a business – you can do it. It took me many years to take the leap, and now that I’m doing it, I wish I had gotten started sooner. Even if you start small with side work, you will get a sense of whether entrepreneurial life is for you.
  2. Have a business mentor who can help you navigate some of the challenges that arise. My business mentor has provided me guidance on how to prioritize my work effectively, prospect for new customers, and given me ideas on how to structure client work.
  3. Lastly, it is important to find out what aspects of the business you like to do and try to outsource the rest. As I said, you can’t do it all, and if you can let go of some of the tasks, you will be freed up to work more on your business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Working from home and having virtual clients has allowed me flexibility in my schedule, but I’ve also discovered that I end up working all the time. Structuring time for self-care in your schedule (and sticking to it!) is difficult but does wonders for your mental health and keeps you grounded. Also, there are many resources out there that can help you network, learn something new, and propel your business to the next level. Make time to learn every day!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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