Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in consultancy but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cari Rutkoskie, President of Words Matter Consulting, located in Schoolcraft, MI, USA.

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

I serve as a strategic internal/corporate communications and employment brand consultant. I coach business leaders to become outstanding communicators and create amazing workplaces and employee experiences. I also build and lead corporate/internal communications functions for various companies. In addition, I'm passionate about developing compelling employment brand strategies and employee value propositions to attract great talent to companies, and I also coach and mentor organizations through various changes.

My customers are leaders at small, mid-sized, and large companies who understand the value of internal communications and are ready to embrace working with a business communications coach and advisor.

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Tell us about yourself

I started my career at Stryker, a global medtech company, where I spent 25 years. I was Stryker's first corporate communications leader, building and leading the function from the ground up while also leading the company's first two global branding initiatives. I also created an employment brand strategy that increased the company's recognition from 11 to 55+ workplace awards in five years and helped it jump from #80 to #11 on Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For list, as well as #10 on the World's Best Companies to Work For list, along with top rankings in 13+ countries.

I started my business five years ago because I wanted to work with and serve more leaders. Everyone wins when a leader gets better (a concept I learned at the Global Leadership Summit, which I have attended every year for 18 years). We spend so much time at work, so shouldn't we like it? I'm passionate about how excellent communication can transform an ordinary workplace into a great workplace.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Every leader who grows into a better communicator feels like a win to me. When leaders say that I have helped transform them and their business, it feels like a big accomplishment.

And still running a successful business after five years feels like a big accomplishment to me. I gave myself one year to get up and running, and although I wasn't where I wanted to be at the one-year mark, I knew I was where I should be and doing what I was called to do.

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

Finding the right leaders who truly need my help. There's a lot of noise out there, and breaking through the clutter to find the leaders who understand, want and need internal communications and brand coaching can be challenging.

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

  1. Tap into the power of your network. Meet with people and ask them for their advice and opinions, then decide what may work for you and give it a try. And if you get stuck, ask the people you trust in your network for help.
  2. Don't be afraid to take a risk and try something new. If it doesn't work, learn from it and move on. Being vulnerable is scary as hell and also brings great rewards. Lately, I've been posting some personal things on LinkedIn to help people get to know me better, and although it's very uncomfortable, I'm getting better at it, receiving great feedback, and making new connections.
  3. If a business prospect says yes to your first quote, then it's too low. Raise your prices on the next quote. You're worth more than you think.

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