Ask the Entrepreneur: Sherri McArdle

by Sherri McArdle

Q. What did you expect when you set out on the journey to start your own business?

Sherri: I’m not sure I had specific expectations but I did have specific goals. I wanted the freedom and flexibility to raise our two children. I also wanted to do work that I loved, to grow professionally and to generate a reasonable income.

My partner Jim Ramerman and I had very modest expectations when we started, but our desire to grow the business evolved over time.

Q.  Is being an entrepreneur everything you thought it would be?

Sherri: Co-owning a business has been very rewarding. It has been wonderful to develop a culture that reflects our collective values and one in which we can all take pride.

I’m inspired every day by the talent and courage of the people and organizations with whom we work. It has been delightful to bring together a talented team of colleagues. I really enjoy watching them exercise their creativity. I’m inspired by their dedication and the impact they have on each other and on our clients.

Q.  What kinds of challenges have you faced that are unique to women in entrepreneurship?

Sherri: Owning a business today is not for the faint of heart, regardless of gender. It requires great dedication, skill and willingness to take risk.

As a wife and mother, my business responsibilities have required me to make different choices and sacrifices in how I spend my time. I love my family and I love my work. Those are my top priorities.

Q. What advice would you give to women who are thinking of starting their own business?

Sherri: Know what’s important to you personally and professionally. What are you passionate about? What are your best skills and competencies? How will you bring out the best in people and yourself? What would you like your business to look like and to accomplish over time?

Most important in starting a business is a realistic plan. It needs to reflect the realities of the marketplace; required investments; and what it takes to build functional awareness of their brand.

Q. What skills have been the most important in getting you through the challenges you have faced?

Sherri: This list has changed over time. After 14 years of co-owning and growing an organization, I believe the capabilities I have consistently needed the most are:

  • Generating insight with limited data.
  • Maintaining a broad perspective.
  • Taking well-reasoned risk.
  • Being decisive
  • Being willing to sacrifice personally for the good of the organization.
  • Be patient and always encouraging with people, especially when there is a challenge.

Q. When you think about the future of your business, what keeps you up at night?

Sherri: I believe that great people and great results go hand in hand.

My top priority is the retention and satisfaction of our talented team. I continue to work hard to position them to do the best work possible for our clients; I also continually seek ways to nurture our unique culture.

Like many successful leaders I’ve known, I believe in investing in a clear and executable strategy and in developing myself and our people, especially during challenging times.

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