Member Spotlight: Ryan Clark
CEO, Mr. SharePoint
Company Website: https://www.mrsharepoint.guru/
Mr. SharePoint designs and deploys technical solutions to help businesses improve processes so they can do what they do best.
Ryan Clark participated in the Founders First CDC Bootcamp program.
Can you please introduce yourself and your business and the date it was founded?
My name is Ryan Clark and I founded Mr. SharePoint in 2017. Our consultancy helps companies improve their utilization of modern workplace and digital process automation technology investments.
What inspired you to start your own business?
When I first started doing SharePoint related work, the lack of diversity in the industry inspired me. I didn’t see anyone who looked like me and that was the main reason why I started my own business. In addition, I had been laid off from a previous job and lost trust in traditional corporate America. I didn’t want to pursue a traditional corporate job, which led me to start consulting and eventually build my own business. Initially, I started freelancing and was able to grow my business from there.
How has your identity as a Black business owner impacted your journey so far?
Initially, when I started my business, I had a common name and people wouldn’t necessarily know that I was a black man until they saw a picture of me. However, now that I have grown my business and gained a reputation, it is clear that people know my race before speaking with me. I find it inspiring that regardless of my race, people still want to work with me based on the quality of my work. As a freelancer, the emphasis is on the quality of work rather than race. Therefore, as long as I can prove that I produce quality work, my online reputation speaks for itself, and it has only enhanced my business.
Can you share any challenges you have faced as a business owner and how you have overcome them?
I used to have an overwhelming workload, often working 20-22 hours a day with only 2 hours of sleep, which was not sustainable. To address this, I learned to hire others to do the work I was originally doing, allowing me to focus on growing the business rather than being consumed by day-to-day tasks. That is actually one of the things the Bootcamp Accelerator Program taught me, which was the importance of working on the business instead of just working in it.
How has participating in Founders First accelerator program helped your business growth?
It was a phenomenal experience to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who were also starting their own businesses. The opportunity to gain insight from business coaches and participate in weekly sessions was greatly appreciated. It allowed me to block off time in my schedule to focus solely on the program without distractions. Interacting with others in my cohort allowed me to not only focus but also to realize that I wasn’t alone in experiencing hardships in my business. We all faced challenges, but the key takeaway was that we would work through them. It was refreshing to be around individuals who shared the same determination to succeed in their business and were willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals.
As a grant recipient, how did you use the grant funds to take your business to the next level?
Before I joined the Bootcamp accelerator program and received the Chicago Job Creators grant in 2021, I was working solo, but the program and funding have opened up opportunities for growth and expansion beyond what I had envisioned. I utilized the grant funds to cover the overhead costs of a major project and brought on a contractor to assist in its completion. This grant funding provided a distinct advantage, as I did not have to rely on my personal savings. With the help of my new hire, we successfully completed the project and secured the contract we were targeting, leading to an influx of new work. I now have a team of three individuals supporting me, and as Founders First would say, “I am now working more on my business than I am working in my business.
What is your fondest memory from your time with Founders First?
I enjoyed the pitching portion of the program, as it gave me the opportunity to witness my fellow cohort members presenting their businesses. I also presented my own business, but what I found particularly cool was observing how each of us progressed from Point A to Point Z in our pitching abilities. Public speaking, especially about one’s business, can be challenging for those who have not done it before. Therefore, it was refreshing to see my peers who were initially hesitant, step up and deliver outstanding pitches. It was inspiring.
Can you offer any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting their business journey?
Life will throw you curveballs, but it’s important to find a way to catch them. Otherwise, you risk not reaching your full potential. It’s easy to just think and talk about your aspirations, but being an entrepreneur requires action. I learned the hard way that entrepreneurship is all about execution. Without the ability to execute, you cannot be an effective entrepreneur. Therefore, it’s important to learn to execute well and watch your business grow as a result.
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