Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Billy Goldberg, Founder of The Buckeye Group, located in Beverly Hills, CA, USA.

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

I created an executive coaching consultancy after seeing how useful my work as a fractional COO had become to my clients. Because I have a background in operations, business development, sales, and licensing, and also as a negotiator, I was drawn to people and businesses who were missing that piece – where I could make a major impact on growth and revenue. My clients are often creative entrepreneurs and founders, but I also work with executives within organizations – usually in the C-Suite – who need a trusted advisor behind the scenes. I’m fluent in many industries and functions, so they know they can communicate with me short-hand. They don’t have to explain their world to me for me to be an effective catalyst for their evolution – both as leaders and as people.

Tell us about yourself

I was an agent at William Morris, an account executive at the Tennis Channel and Gannet Sports, and was in finance as a Vice President at Bank of America. My first client when I started my business development agency, was Miss America, where I had a hand in reshaping the future of the brand. What all of these angles brought out was a validation of my strengths – I see where systems are broken and where people can be better placed (or hired) to make more optimal use of their talents. I’ve seen every angle of an organization, from fortune 500 brands to smaller start-ups. Nothing is a surprise to me. I love what I do – whether it’s one-on-one work or direct work with someone’s team – because I can create a setting where businesses grow, strategies generate revenue, and people feel happier at the same time. That convergence is gratifying to me. I don’t like sacrificing one for the other because I know both worlds are possible. It’s a very happy marriage.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

On paper, it’s probably bringing a very new strategy to a nationally known organization that ultimately allowed them to make a ten-fold increase in sales. Big growth like that has a certain reward because I (and my team) exceeded their expectations by so many miles. They then used the learnings from that strategy to double their annual revenue based on that new, higher number. Giving organizations systems and pathways for continued success does feel good because I can see the work we did – the seeds we planted – as it becomes real for many years.

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

I think the hardest thing about being a business owner is separating how the business operates from what the business solves. They’re separate. Business owners must take 1,000 decisions and turn them into repeatable, reliable systems that don’t require “deciding” anymore. A healthy structure allows for more creativity within it – and that’s true whether you’re a lawyer, creative director, or CEO.

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

  1. This first tip has four parts and has to do with understanding what you’re really choosing when you start and run your own business. There are four advantages to owning your own business - you have no ceiling or guardrails on how much money you make, how you spend your time, who you do business with and how you do your business. If you aren’t leveraging those four aspects of entrepreneurship, you are better off working for someone else. Or you already are working for someone else, but you either can’t see it or won’t admit it.
  2. Transparency works. Being straight with your team, your partners, your vendors, and your clients/customers pay for itself by building a track record of trust. Even if it feels innocuous, demonstrate transparency in every appropriate way. Always consider time and place when it comes to transparency – they matter in how people hear (and calibrate) what you tell them.
  3. Know where you are starting from. If growth is a business goal, you have to take a very close, honest look at the current state of your numbers, your clients, the size of the market, the stage of the market you’re growing in, labor, fallback resources, etc. All of it. You need to expose the absolute essence of your company – the truth of today. Without eye contact with this reality, growth is as good as luck.

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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