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Granting Self-Employment

Chris Bouchard is the founder and CEO of Revgen Solutions LLC located in Dayville, Connecticut. The vision of RevGen is to increase the impact that organizations have on society and the economy by assisting them to develop healthy, strategic, and sustainable initiatives. While working part-time as a case manager for a grant funded program Chris began to blossom and knew he found his calling in being behind the scenes and helping others fundraise for worthy causes.

When and why did you join the NASE?
I joined NASE in September of 2016. I was approached by a member of NASE who wanted to apply for the NASE Growth Grant. I prepared the business plan on behalf of that person to submit to NASE as part of the Growth Grant criteria. That’s how I was
introduced to NASE and I subsequently became interested in becoming a member myself.

I joined for a few reasons. First, I want to support the self-employed community and I’m proud to be a part of the small business and self-employment movement. I can proudly display that with my NASE badge on my website. Also, being a member of NASE is an
affiliation that shows commitment to professionalism, rather than giving the vibe of a “fly-by- night” freelancer. So essentially, being a member of NASE is a great marketing tool. And lastly, the benefits are immeasurable, and as the global marketplace continues to evolve and welcome self-employment as the new norm, an association such as NASE needs to be available for business owners- and for that I thank you.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
Winning my first grant award was undoubtedly my biggest inspiration. I had always enjoyed writing and I always considered myself somewhat talented with the English language, but getting that first letter was the confidence I needed. I knew, from that point on, that there was nothing more that I wanted to do with my life than to spread my abilities to help people secure funding for worthy projects.

When and why did you start your business?
I have been self-employed for most of my adult life- even between my hourly jobs. For the most part, I worked for employers long enough to get together start-up money and venture out on my own. I had many failed attempts in different business ventures, but I
became serious about my fundraising business around 2011. In fact, it almost “fell in my lap”. I was asked to write a grant for a grassroots organization, which is when I became very interested in the grant world, and after my first successful proposal—I never
looked back.

I did have side ventures and personal projects I worked on while I was developing my skillset, but my long-term goal has remained the growth and expansion of my fundraising business. I have been a full-time consultant since 2014 and by early 2016, incorporation was past due. I started this business because I love what I do and I get tremendous satisfaction out of helping people achieve their goals. I also believe that everyone has a purpose and I want my purpose to fuel the greater good.

What challenges have you faced in your business?
I’ve faced almost every challenge imaginable in self-employment, but the most obvious to me is not having enough time. As a business owner, time management is crucial because we are the business. Without proper planning and management, failure is very
easy, especially since most of us are an all-inclusive department that handles production, sales, marketing, maintenance, customer relations, finance, human resources, and the unexpected.

With that being said, I’ve come to realize that I’m not able to take on every project, that some are better left for another contractor, and that daily exercise is a must-have. I don’t mean to sound like a fitness guru, because I’m not (by any means), but I do make it a point to take care of myself. I’ve found that time management and stress management are almost interchangeable terms, and if I want to meet the need of my clients, I must meet my own first.

How do you market your business?
Most of my work is direct referral, but I do work on a few online platforms—namely Freelancer and UpWork. I have a website and I utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) processes to continue ranking my website in search engines. I contribute in groups, on blogs, and wherever I find an opportunity to gain exposure for myself and my business.

Occasionally, I will run a small Facebook ad, but I think that staying up-to- date on social media platforms and engaging prospective clients is more important than direct advertising in this particular business. I also keep my News section of my website up-to- date with informative articles about fundraising and business development because positioning yourself as an authority in this niche is very important. Moving forward, I plan on creating a mailing list with an informative newsletter and giving away a free eBook as a method of increasing sales leads.

Do you have any employees?
I have 3 part-time employees. They are non-exclusive and they set their own hours and limitations. We have an understanding that they provide their availability for the week ahead and we work together remotely to accomplish the objectives necessary to meet the goals of our clients. I have found that this approach works best because it allows everyone flexibility (even me as the employer) and each team member brings a refined set of skills to our virtual roundtable.

What’s your schedule like, what’s a typical day for you?
I wake up between 5:30-6:00am, depending on how much work is waiting on my desk. I shower and get dressed. I check the emails and follow up on messages while I have coffee and wait for the kids to wake up. Once they’re awake, the work gets put aside until they’re on the bus. At 9am, I eat breakfast and get back to work until around noontime. My wife and I go for an hour walk. I eat lunch when I get home and go back to work until the kids get off the bus at 4pm. This part of the day varies, depending on the workload and family plans. Sometimes I work until 5pm and call it quits (ideal). Other times, I put the work down and come back to it around 7pm for a few hours. I do this Monday through Friday. I try not to work the weekends, but it’s almost never possible because I’m always exploring new ways to gain exposure and develop my skills.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
You’re looking for something along the lines of—“working in my pajamas”—right? It’s true. There are days when I can work in shorts and a t-shirt, but it’s counterproductive. I’ve found that routine is necessary—that includes showering and getting dressed like the rest of the world.

Honestly, the best thing about being self-employed is the ability to choose which projects I want to take on and which ones I’d rather pass-up. It’s simply a flexibility not offered in traditional employment settings and the same reason I ask each of my team members their “comfort level” with each project before we begin.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
The best compliment I’ve ever received from a client had to be during a phone conference with two professionals. One of the women interrupted me mid-sentence and said, as if in awe, “wow, you really know what you’re talking about”. The fact that she urgently felt the need to interrupt me and validate my expertise was probably the biggest, and most sincere, compliment I’ve ever received. It sounds ironic, but for some reason that comment has stuck in my mind above all others.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
Since I’m in the planning business, it would be most appropriate for me to say that planning is the most important component and that you should have a solid business plan in place, but my advice is to set a long-term goal and stick with it. Write it down. Don’t forget it.

It’s very easy for us, as entrepreneurs, to become easily sidetracked with every new business opportunity out there. And, that’s okay! But, before you dive head-first into a tempting business opportunity, make sure you do your research and make sure it’s in line with your long-term goals.

Any other information you would like to share?
Besides my business, Revgen Solutions LLC, I’m a published fiction author. My debut novel, Boy Unraveled, was published in March of 2016 so I also manage an author website with a blog and social media for my author profile. It’s a lot of extra work but I really enjoy writing and the book was a huge milestone in my life. My father always wanted to write a fiction book and after he passed away, it was something I felt that I needed to accomplish. The book is available in paperback and eBook format at all major retailers.

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