Reston Chamber Spotlight is a feature sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. This week’s spotlight is on Training Solutions, Inc., and its President/CEO C. Michael Ferraro.
Reston Now: Why did you decide to start your business in Reston?
CMF: I actually started my business in Chantilly in 1995 and then joined the Reston Chamber in 1998. My last job before starting my business was in the corporate training department at Woodward & Lothrop department stores.
When the company closed in the summer of 1995, and I decided to try my hand at my own business.
CMF: There are both many challenges and rewards in owning a business. Challenges include making the best use of your time. Determining how much time you spend running the business or delivering the services for your business is always a juggling act to find balance. You have to do the marketing and selling to win the business, but then you have to deliver the services. Lucky for us, we have both a product and service business so much of our revenue is buying and selling products.
RN: Name something about your business that most people don’t know?
CMF: What most people don’t know about our business is that we can help our clients obtain public funding and tax credits for the training they provide. It really only helps our larger clients and this is a bit time intensive, but the rewards can be great for those companies that participate in state or federal training grant programs.
RN: What is the unique value proposition your clients get with your services?
CMF: I think what our clients appreciate is our nimble and quick ability to service their needs. We use technology to our advantage; and with our online store, customers can get all the information they need and order their products right away. Our local customers like the fact that we can quickly service their needs with customized classroom training.
RN: Describe a typical day as a business owner.
CMF: Well, first there isn’t a typical day as a small business owner. We are a jack- of-all-trades, and on any given day we are either delivering services, presenting to a prospective client, going to a networking or a Board meeting, stopping off at the mailbox, Fed Ex, bank or even a Staples run for supplies.
Never boring, and every day is a new opportunity. At times we work nights and weekends to get the work done, and sometimes we also take a few hours off during the work day to focus on a personal activity.
RN: How has the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce helped your business grow?
CMF: The Chamber has helped our business in many ways. The exposure both through online, attending or sponsoring events has gotten the message out about our firm. The ability to serve on committees and eventually the Board has helped build relationships which has led to business. In my case, I was able to have the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the Board; and in that role, our firm was able to get receive a lot of exposure to both business and community leaders.
RN: What is the quote that best describes your business?
CMF: Our tag line is “Educate*Inspire*Serve.” Those three words are very important to how we conduct business. In a more operational description, Training Solutions provides information that enables business owners and executives to make better decisions regarding their people issues and also provides people skills programs and coaching services to enhance employees’ productivity.
RN: What is your advice to someone who is thinking about owning a business?
CMF: After doing a bit of market research, I would say, go for it! Join the Chamber, your industry association and your professional association. Get involved in those organizations because that’s where the benefits really pay off. Find a good banker, a lawyer and a good IT specialist to get your office set up.
Work your hardest, and you will be successful!