Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shelley Maberry, Founder and CEO of Maberry Consulting and Evaluation Services LLC., located in Belleville, IL, USA.

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

Having accumulated more than 30 years of experience in business consulting and training, I established Maberry Consulting and Evaluation Services (MCES) LLC in Swansea, Illinois, as its chief executive officer in 2003. A boutique firm that focuses on assisting clients in expanding their revenue capabilities, including those in the nonprofit, state, private, and educational sectors, I offer evaluation services, competitive procurement RFPs, grant management and peer review, government proposals, and bid writing, as well as comprehensive grant services. Presently serving 39 of the 50 U.S. states, I'm also involved with a limited amount of international projects.

An expert in grant management and writing, I have also been the Heartland Institutional Review Board LLC director since 2010 and founded The New DBA LLC in 2022. Earlier in my career, I was a health educator and grant writer at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro, Illinois, between 1996 and 2003. I also briefly served as an editorial board member of Coursewise Publishing, Inc., for one year between 1998 and 1999.

Tell us about yourself

Drawing upon a Bachelor of Science in health education and a Master of Science in Education in school health from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, I subsequently completed postgraduate coursework in health education at my alma mater. Likewise, I have continued my education extensively with a postgraduate certification in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University, having previously completed the Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program at The Wharton School. Other certifications to my credit include a graduate certificate in program evaluation from the University of Connecticut, a human subjects certification from the National Institutes of Health, and a Six Sigma Black Belt from the Management & Strategy Institute, among others.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My success was captured on Bloomberg Television's "World's Greatest" in June 2022. I believe that my accomplishments have been based on my ability to gain the trust of my clients, which is paramount. Highly educated, I hold numerous credentials in my field, including certification as a coach, speaker, and consultant through the Grant Cardone Licensee program, which gives me permission to coach, speak and consult for any national or international company using the Grant Cardone sales curriculum, books, and online training platform. Among other qualifications, I have been certified as a health education specialist, a grants evaluator, a secondary teacher, and a substance abuse prevention specialist.

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

Business ownership is not for the faint at heart. It requires dedication, discipline, and extreme focus.

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

  1. I believe in the adage, do what you love, and the money will follow. You can't start a business doing something you are not passionate about.
  2. Have a plan. I started my first business while still working a traditional job. I gained some momentum and was able to make financial sense of exiting employment in short order.
  3. Don't assume immediate profitability. More than 50% of businesses fail within the five-year threshold. Be cautious of trading one job for another. If your business isn't profitable, you not only have an unstable job, but you also have the stress of finances.

Looking toward the future, I intend to continue witnessing the success of my three businesses. "There will never be a shortage of grant opportunities."

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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