As a Board Member for Ventures, I believe in the power of providing a hand up to entrepreneurs. So many small business owners start their businesses because they have a service or product that sets them apart. Something that could make the world a better place. What I didn’t realize was that volunteering to work with small business owners would also make my world a better place.
When I joined the Board four years ago, I was just starting a business of my own: Melissa Forziat Events. After years of working on contract for some of the biggest events and brands in the world (Olympic Winter Games, Rugby World Cup, US Olympic Committee), I started to do freelance event management here in Seattle.
For about a year, event management was the only offering of my business. However, most of the people in my inner circle were business owners, and I was regularly fielding questions about how to market a business. One week, three people suggested that marketing consulting should be something I actually offer.
Around the same time, one of the Ventures instructors asked me if I would be open to speaking to his advanced marketing class. This was getting eerie. I said “yes,” but had my doubts. What authorized me to speak on marketing? Sure, I knew a lot of information about marketing, but what could I offer in a formal setting like that?
Being insecure about how much I would bring to the table, I prepared the best presentation I could. I thought about what lessons I wanted to share and how to make them clear and effective.
On the day of the Marketing Course, I gave my presentation and we workshopped the material. When we wrapped up, to my surprise, a line of people formed to talk to me. They didn’t want to leave the room without getting my guidance. That moment is one that I have thought about a lot- I realized I should never have doubted how much I had to offer. My knowledge made a material difference for the people in that room.
I used it as evidence. I formally began offering marketing services through my business, now called “Melissa Forziat Events and Marketing.” I have continued to speak to groups of Ventures business owners and watch them have breakthroughs right in front of me. Now, it is a robust part of my own business to do speaking engagements on marketing all over Washington, the United States, and the world!
Whatever you think you might have to offer as a volunteer, don’t doubt it. You might be able to change an entrepreneur’s life by sharing what you know.