The secrets behind a consulting company’s fast growth

By: Suzanne Guillette

Tiffany Richardson, an AI strategist and business owner, took her company from one client to 120 in just two years.

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Richardson is the founder and CEO of Artisan-Preneur Consulting, a firm helping entrepreneurs to unlock the power of AI. Photo credit: Tania Fernandez

It’s a sunny Monday and Tiffany Richardson, CEO of Artisan-Preneur Consulting is ordering coffee at a café in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “Today’s going to be fun,” she says. Richardson is leading an interactive AI workshop for local business owners, meeting with a new client, and collaborating with her team to discuss hiring a new web designer.

If that sounds like a busy day, it is. Artisan-Preneur Consulting is “blowing up,” Richardson says — and she means that in a good way. Richardson attributes her recent successes to three things: honing her niche, inking partnerships, and finding support through Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, the online program helping entrepreneurs succeed through free coaching, courses, and networking opportunities.

From zero to 100

At the HIVE coworking space, Richardson leads a two-hour workshop on how to craft queries for generative AI models such as Chat GPT. Photo credit: Tania Fernandez.

Richardson’s journey as an entrepreneur began after six years with the armed forces. She launched Artisan-Preneur Consulting in 2021 to help people start and grow their businesses. But Richardson initially garnered only one or two clients a month. “I was struggling to define my niche,” she says. The turning point was when Richardson began focusing on her passion for AI and using it to help entrepreneurs improve their business planning and decision-making. As a result, Richardson drew more attention to her business and developed key partnerships with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an initiative of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, in Norfolk, Virginia and her local Black Chamber of Commerce. Since launching these partnerships, “the business took off,” Richardson says.

Now Richardson — and her team of local, national, and global subcontractors — are supporting more than 100 clients through consultations and workshops. Richardson attributes 10% of her new client acquisition directly to the skills and leads she gained from the Digital Ready courses, coaching, and networking sessions.

Digital empowerment

Richardson meets with one of her clients from the B-Force Accelerator Program through the Black Chamber of Commerce. Photo credit: Tania Fernandez

Richardson’s success has been uniquely supported by Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. A 1:1 website review session with a former Facebook employee was particularly helpful. “When I saw that Facebook qualification, I said, ‘This is gold’,” Richardson remembers. “During the virtual session, the coach provided invaluable strategy for displaying my work on the website, down to the picture ratio and background color.”

After implementing several UX changes, Richardson says the Artisan-Preneur Consulting website is now a key source of new clients, contributing to approximately 20% of new business.

Richardson also took free courses at Digital Ready such as ‘Boost your business: Leveraging technology for productivity and profit’ and ‘Operating efficiency essentials: Smooth operator.’ These courses afforded Richardson the opportunity to refine her existing strategies, which has resulted in a 20% increase in efficiency she says, and allowed her team to take on larger projects.

Networking through the Digital Ready sessions called Community Connect has also been a cornerstone of Richardson’s growth. Engaging with entrepreneurs from various industries broadened her perspective, thereby improving her consulting services, she says. This deeper understanding enhanced her client acquisition rate by at least 10% by doubling as market research. Seeing what potential clients might need helped Richardson cultivate her service offering across four key areas: strategy, marketing, scaling, and partnership.

Confidence to grow

Richardson considers herself a techie and is always looking for ways to mesh technology with whatever she’s doing. Photo credit: Tania Fernandez

After participating in Community Connect, Richardson started hosting her own virtual chats and posting questions and comments in the Community Connect Slack. “Getting the practice with entrepreneurs from Verizon, and having that back and forth was invaluable,” Richardson says. “It has built my confidence.” So much so that Richardson now hosts an in-person networking session for business owners at a local restaurant every Friday.

Family forward

After work, Richardson often joins her daughter Aurora (middle) and husband Frank (right) for a walk with two of their three Mastiffs, Lola and Midnight. Photo credit: Tania Fernandez

Richardson’s biggest success, however, is having her family involved in the business. Richardson’s husband Frank, and mom, Mercedes, work on the Artisan-Preneur team and support her through thick and thin. Meanwhile, Richardson is always aiming to support her children, Aurora and Jeremy, and their dreams. Richardson’s kids have even become budding entrepreneurs themselves— and yes, Mom shares her wisdom with the next generation. “I share what I learned at Digital Ready to help my kids grow their businesses,” she says.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready is a free online curriculum designed to help small businesses succeed in today’s digital world—moving the world forward for all. To sign up, visit verizon.com/smallbusinessdigitalready

With Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, an individual user's experience may vary and results are not guaranteed.

About the author(s):

Suzanne Guillette has previously written about technology for Verizon and her work has appeared in O Magazine, Quartz and the Rumpus. She lives in New York City.

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