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Venture Catalyst Consulting helps entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs), and ESO funders achieve sustainable success.

About Venture Catalyst Consulting

Venture Catalyst Consulting seeks to improve the financial stability and happiness of all deserving entrepreneurs by helping business owners build successful, sustainable companies and by helping organizations that support those business owners to build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems and effective entrepreneurship support programs. Keep reading…

For Entrepreneurs

Due to my current role as the Deputy Director for the Business Enterprise Program with the State of Illinois and…

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The latest from the blog

Guest Post: 5 Important Social Media Tasks for New Businesses

This week’s guest post is from Kambre Glover of Ka Media:

Building the social media presence for your business can be difficult in the beginning. You know that you need to be on social media, but you are not sure what you should be doing or how often. Social media is a great tool for businesses to connect with their audience, build trust, and convert followers to customers. Knowing what needs to be done on social media in order to build a community around your brand will not only help build your vanity metrics, such as likes and comments, but also create loyal customers and a community around the brand! I am breaking down 5 important solutions for your business’ social media growth. Understand Your Goals

Understand Your Goals

You want to use social media for your business but why? If you want to be successful at using social media for your business, you need to clearly define what success means for your page and your business specifically. When working with clients we typically identify 3 goals, so we can measure success and adjust our strategies as necessary. A few goals some businesses have are, to reach at least 10K followers (to benefit from specific features), increase website traffic, build email list, and so much more. Clarity is the first step to reaching your goals. Once you define your goals you need to define the strategy you will use to reach those goals. Social media is constantly changing so having your goals and plans clearly written and defined will give you something to refer to as time goes on and allow you to adjust your strategy when necessary.

Engage with Your Target Audience

Engaging on social media daily is a large part of growing your community. Stay active and communicate with your target audience and followers daily. When you have a small community, your audience may not be very engaged in the beginning but there are a few ways to help them become more active and start communicating with you! One way to increase your engagement is to ask your audience questions, by doing this you help your audience understand that you care about them and it also keeps them interested in your brand. Everyone wants to be included, right? Involve your audience in some behind the scenes activities to help them feel included. You can involve your audience behind the scenes by going live, using your Instagram or Facebook stories, or sharing the journey throughout your posts.

Share Relevant Content

Your target audience does not want to follow you if you are not sharing content that they are interested in. In order to gain their attention and keep it you must understand what they care about and give them more of that. You audience does not want to constantly see what you are selling, they want to be able to engage with you in other ways too. A best practice for sharing content is for 80% of your content to be engaging, informative, and entertaining and only 20% should be directly selling your product or service. This strategy ensures that you are building relationships with your audience and not constantly pushing your products or services on them. Testing different types of content and topics may result in a flux of engagement but it will also help you understand your target audience better. You will begin to understand what your audience likes by paying attention to what they engage with the most and the content that they share.

Use Calls to Action

What are calls to action (CTAs)? CTAs are what you ask your audience to do within your posts. Using relevant CTAs means you are using to copy of your content to get your audience to take a specific action whether it is liking or commenting on your post, reading your blog, or booking a meeting with you. In order to increase the amount of people who follow your CTAs, you must build connections and trust with your audience. Your CTA needs to clear and simple, so your audience will be more willing to do what it is that you are asking of them. A good practice I have implemented is to read the caption aloud then follow the directions I gave in the post exactly I wrote it to make sure it makes sense. If you have other people on your team, it may be good to have them or someone else do the same. Try using at least one call to action in every post to increase your audience’s interactions with you.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key. Being consistent will pay off, even when it does not feel like it. Consistency is another thing that helps build trust with your audience. Being consistent does not just mean you have to post every day, it means showing up for your audience consistently and having a consistent brand. Your brand should eventually become recognizable and to your audience but that cannot happen without consistency. For example, there are plenty comedians on social media, but the most popular ones typically have something they do or say in their videos that makes them recognizable. Try relating this tactic to your business to find out what part of your brand relates to your audience the most. Consistency also relates to the look and feel of your brand, your audience needs to understand what they can expect from you.

Social media for your business does not have to be as stressful and overwhelming as it has been for you in the past. Using the 5 solutions explained here will help increase your business’ social media presence. Successfully using social media for your business requires testing and paying attention to trends and changes on each platform. If you are looking for additional strategies to help you on social media, specifically Instagram, download the printable 10 Strategies to Grow Your Instagram. This downloadable list explains the 10 strategies I have used to build my Instagram. Download Here.

Kambre’ Glover is a digital brand strategist and the owner of KaMedia. She is dedicated to helping her clients on social media, so they can turn their followers in to loyal clients and customers. She has a passion for helping people reach their goals. Her passion began to develop before she even knew it, as she cheered on my family and friends through various endeavors.
Her love for helping others turn their skills and knowledge into money is what led her to begin working with entrepreneurs, particularly women. 

She loves seeing women succeed and help businesses flourish which she portrays through her involvement in events and projects surrounding women empowerment. She truly believes that anything you love doing can and should be a source of income for you and she will help you on that path. 

For more information on how KaMedia can help your business grow through social media take a browse our website to learn more! www.QueenKaMedia.com

Guest Post: How to Harness the Power of Automation to Optimize Your Time

This week’s guest post is from the team at Integrated Technologies Australia:

As an entrepreneur, you often have to wear many hats to succeed in business. One day you’re updating the company blog and managing your social media pages, the next day you’re responding to customer enquiries and calling back clients. Unfortunately, this busy work can eat away time that could be better spent on growing your business.

That’s where automation comes in. By letting software automation tools take care of the medial tasks, you can gain more time to focus on the core business activities that matter to you.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can harness the power of automation to optimise your time:

Social Media

If you have multiple social media profiles, you need to keep each page active by regularly posting new content, responding to customer enquiries, and letting your followers know about upcoming events, sales and competitions. While these tasks are important, they are also time-consuming.

Social media automation tools let you manage all of your profiles from a single platform. They’re also equipped with a range of powerful tools to save you time and increase the output of your social media campaign. You can automatically schedule hundreds of posts in advance, review in-depth analytics to find out what is and isn’t working for your campaign, and filter through conversations by keyword, hashtag, and location to find out what people are saying about your business.

Furthermore, you can cross-post all of your content across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Some software tools even recommend the most ideal time to post your content.


Automating your invoices can save you a lot of time on manual paperwork. And ensure you get paid sooner too. Some of the most popular billing and invoicing software are Invoicely, Zoho Invoice, Xero and Replicon. Regardless of which software you choose, each one is highly customisable and jam-packed with features to make your life easier.

With automated invoicing software you can create professional, custom invoices from scratch. You can also automatically schedule repeat invoices, track your time, monitor pending invoices and be instantly notified when an invoice is paid. If you want to invoice on the go, most software tools offer cross-compatibility between desktop and mobile devices.

No matter how big or small your business is, you can fine-tune every aspect of your invoicing to suit your specific needs.

Wireless Presentations

How many times have you had a business presentation held up by technical problems? Your laptop won’t connect to the projector, you brought the wrong cables, or you have no cables at all. These issues are not only inconvenient they can cost your business in lost sales and reputation.

The good news? These days you can use a wireless presentation system to broadcast your presentation. These products typically come as a single black box and let you use Wi-Fi to wirelessly transmit data from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop straight to your room’s screen.

Better still, you don’t need any special software to do this, just the device itself and a solid Wi-Fi connection. All you have to do is connect and present – it’s that simple. By saving time on costly setup, you can present seamless and engaging presentations without any disruptions.

If you want to discover the benefits of a wireless presentation system for yourself, get in touch with an automation expert who can assess your existing room and propose a custom presentation solution for you.

Email Marketing

Thought email was dead? Think again. According to WordStream email is the third most influence source of information for B2B audiences, while 73 percent of millennials identify email as their preferred means of communication.[i] So if you want to reach your audience faster and on a more frequent basis, automated emails are the way to go.

There are two ways you can automate your emails. One way is to setup autoresponders that send an email when a customer performs a certain action. For example, the system could send a welcome email when a customer signs-up to your newsletter, or a customer instantly receives an email after they buy a product from your website. The other type of automated emails are those as part of a larger drip campaign. These may be emails sent to new subscribers over a longer period of time in order to introduce new products, promote sales and events, offer a free trial, or share monthly newsletters and video content.

Better still, most email automation tools have a simple drag-and-drop interface to let you customise the look and feel of your emails. Platforms like BombBomb and Covideo also let you record and upload high-quality video into your emails to help boost CTRs.

Integrated Technologies Australia (ITA) are a Melbourne based Automation company. They take the latest technologies, untangle the complexity, and embed them straight into your home or business. Whether for entertainment, automation, energy management, or security, they do more than provide technological solutions, they enhance lifestyles.

Guest Post: How to Reduce Your eCommerce Supply Costs

This week’s guest post is from Nathan Sharpe:

E-commerce is the business of buying or manufacturing products and then reselling them for a profit. Business owners painstakingly search for the best suppliers or manufacturers to do business with. Without realising it, most e-commerce businesses maintain an inflated budget to cover operational costs.

Look at different areas of the business and work to get them all streamlined. Optimise business processes to save money which will allow the company to run on a lean budget. Cutting costs would radically boost company profits, this fact is in all the best business books. There are several methods to save an e-commerce business money.

You just need to analyse existing processes and adjust them accordingly. Decrease supply costs to make sourcing products even more efficient. It is one of the most effective ways to increase annual profits. Along with supply management, proper inventory management processes also need to be streamlined as well.

Quality Control

Customers will sometimes receive defective products. They will contact the seller to complain about the low-quality product and return it for a full refund. The worse case scenario is after the refund the customer writes a bad review about how they received a defective item. Not only will there be a loss of revenue but the negative review may also damage future sales conversions.

The best solution to prevent customers from receiving defective products is to establish quality assurance guidelines. Start at the manufacturing stage of the product. Talk to the manufacturer and make an in-depth quality checklist that each unit must pass. Order samples to ensure that the set quality standards are met before making a bulk order.

It would be ideal for the business owner to visit the factory where the products are made. In case that is not an option, hire a certified product inspector to perform a thorough quality inspection for you. It is vital that all products, every unit is checked to ensure that quality is up to standard. This process would help prevent loss of revenue from returned products.

Lower Total Inventory Cost

Some sellers make the mistake of ordering too much quantity. They get overly excited about the vision they have for their product and order way too many units. Being too headstrong about selling and not doing the proper market research is a bad idea.

You run the risk of getting stuck with too much product that doesn’t sell. The funds used to acquire the excess products would have been better used for more productive endeavours. Instead of overstocking product, set aside a sufficient budget for PPC campaigns in Amazon or Google. That marketing method would increase sales conversions and help move products faster.

The TIC(Total Inventory Cost) also consists of the other charges. It can be broken down into three separate segments. Ordering costs, shortage costs and carrying costs. These three segments represent different processes in the supply chain.

Ordering costs include the price of the product, insurance, transport, currency exchange differences, taxes and other fees as well. Ordering costs otherwise known as landed costs also include any extra services such as paying for a certified product inspector.

Carrying costs are all the charges incurred when storing products. Warehouse or storage fees, insurance and any fee related to holding or storing products. Ideally, carrying costs should only make up about 20-30% of your total inventory costs.

Maximise space by arranging products systematically at every storage location. In case it is costing the business more than the recommended 30% of the TIC then it may be time to re-evaluate how to store the products more efficiently. Take a look at other storage options, and it may be time to tweak existing fulfilment processes as well.

Inventory health

Shortage costs are a result of not keeping good inventory health. Sellers that run out of stock would be forced to put in a rush order of products. A rush bulk order would cost extra. Shipping that rush order will also cost more if you use airmail instead of a freighter.

If you are selling on Amazon, good inventory health achieved by using the Amazon inventory management tools. These tools, such as the Amazon sales coach or inventory management tab, provide sales related data.

There, you can set inventory minimums which can then be used as an alert to order the next batch of products. Other e-commerce platforms do also provide inventory management tools. Master these tools and read all the sales reports and sales projections for each listed product. These reports provide an accurate estimate of how many units should be ordered for each product to fulfil customer demand for a specific time period.

Data from previous seasonal events can be used to forecast customer demand for the current year. In case that data is not available, check the sales of competitors to gauge the demand and purchase enough stock to cover possible orders.  

Expand sales Channels

This method will not only reduce supply costs but also increase business revenue. Instead of making a lateral change and adding another online retail store think about selling products wholesale. The profit margin per unit will not be as good as selling each unit individually in an online marketplace.

Believe it or not but the profit margin will be more significant due to the fact sales will be in bulk instead of per piece. The shift from retail to wholesale will take some getting used to.

A business that has mastered the art of selling online will just need to tweak operations to process, accommodate and sell bulk products. Growing a business to a much larger scale will need direct supervision until it is streamlined.

Getting into wholesaling will allow multi-channel sellers more flexibility. Establish new business relationships that can support ventures into wholesaling. Network with businesses that need your products, it would be best to have the products directly shipped to your B2B customers.

Coordinate with manufacturers about setting new terms for bulk orders. That will also provide the business with a better profit margin as well.

Fulfilment Logistics

The crucial final phase in the supply chain process. Hiring someone to just process orders can become expensive depending on the number of people employed to do just that. Some sellers choose to do process each order themselves.

That can work if sales are sporadic, but once sales start to pick up, processing orders will eat up valuable time. Consider using 3PL(Third Party Logistics), provider. The 3PL option can prove to be more cost-effective since they will be the ones to store the product and process each order.

Once an order comes in their staff will pick the product, package and ship it to the customer usually on the date of the order. For sellers familiar with Amazon FBA, 3PL are the external version of that service. It is vital to set up the most cost-effective fulfilment option to process orders quickly, efficiently and get them to the customer.  


Enhance business processes to become more efficient. Decrease supply chain costs by accomplishing the methods listed above and increase company profits. Have the vision to start selling wholesale, carefully select B2B customers and process their bulk orders while effectively selling across multiple channels as well.

Nathan Sharpe is the entrepreneur behind the business blog Biznas. He knows that you must wear many different hats for your business to be a success. He helps others achieve this success by sharing everything he knows on his blog, as well as any new lessons he learns along the way!

What People Have to Say About Working with Cate

  • “Cate Costa is one of the most insightful people I have ever known for her incredible insight in understanding entrepreneurship and what it takes to start and sustain businesses. My interaction with her as a consultant for a national fellowship gave me a deeper appreciation of her as a pragmatist and someone who is constantly thinking outside the box of traditional economic development. She is thoughtful, visionary, and pragmatic at the same time…Cate’s perspectives has helped me adapt my work as a Policy Analyst in scoping out and implementing special projects and strategic initiatives to help diversify and expand  the economic landscape of Boston.”

    John Smith, Policy Analyst, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, City of Boston
  • “Cate’s knowledge and expertise in business strategy, helped me personally transform how I thought about my business. I now look at my business from a strategic perspective versus tactical…In third quarter 2016, five months after taking Cate’s class, my company achieved more revenue in one quarter than all of 2015 and this trajectory has continued into 2017. Rarely do you find a person who has the skillset to help others see the opportunities in their business and provide them with the tools and coaching to execute those opportunities… Cate is that person! I highly recommend, Cate’s consulting services as she is truly transformational. She has the ability to be  a catalyst in moving your business forward.”

    Karen Fleshman, Co-Founder and COO, Haskins Advisory Group
  • “Cate has become a great resource that has allowed me to look past the stumbling blocks that bogged me down as a business owner. A two minute conversation with her gave me a simple strategy towards assessing the risks necessary to grow any business. After our time together my business saw a 25% increase in revenue. I’ve taken the necessary steps to expand my company which will allow for exponential financial growth! She’s helped me understand the key numbers that all financial institutions look at when deciding to approve funding!”

    Maurice Sanders, Owner, Cornerstone Logistics