‘Good’ consultants have one quality that distinguishes them from their competitors: they help their clients improve performance and get better results. Not only do they identify and then define the problems their clients are wrestling with, but they then propose solutions and map out the ways to accomplish them.
Carol Sumter is just such a ‘good’ consultant. She started and has built her business, Sharp Turn Consulting, into a success by focusing process improvement, change management and training best practices on its clients’ challenges and then partnering with them to achieve the desired outcomes.
“My plan is to grow slowly,” says Sumter. “I’ve told my clients: I have a model. I have proprietary analytics, processes and procedures that I have standardized and that work. I tweak them to meet the needs of my clients. And then they get results.”
Like most entrepreneurs, Carol Sumter didn’t build her business alone. She’s had partners and found resources to help her. One of the most important resources she found is the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).
“I never thought I’d have my own business,” Sumter reveals. “I never had the desire. I’m a big organization, guaranteed paycheck type of individual. But then I saw an opportunity to use what I know to help people. I went online. I found the Small Business Development Center, first in Texas and then here in Orlando when I moved to Florida. I took their seminars. I used their consulting. I wrote a business plan. It all helped me to get Sharp Turn Consulting off the ground.”
“The game changer was working with Patricia Simpson, my FSBDC at UCF Procurement Technical Assistance Center consultant and government services expert,” continued Sumter. “I had all of this information but no one to focus me on how to best use it. My business is about helping clients collect information and use it. But what I’d received from the FSBDC was so vast it was overwhelming.”
“Patricia helped me identify what was important for my business. She guided me towards using the right information, better prioritizing my time and attending the most promising events. It made all the difference. It led me into valuable business partnerships, into pursing new markets and winning new clients.”
“And all at no cost,” Sumter went on. “When you are a small business, you are stingy with your dollars. It’s great to have access to all this expertise and knowledge, and be able to talk to people who’ve already done it, who’ve proven they know what it’s all about, who’ve been successful.”
“‘Valuable’ is the way I’d describe the FSBDC, in every sense of the word. They have given me the ability to take the steps I have and make my business into what it is today. It’s been great working with them and I look forward to continuing to benefit from their support”.