Actoras Consulting Group
When I launched Actoras, the internet was not popular and home-sized desk-top computers were like dinosaurs. There was only so much I could use in my research for this business plan. I headed to my favorite data source, the public library.
Hoping the library’s research department could help, I asked a local librarian, “Is there any way I can obtain the names and contact information of all of the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) headquartered in the Chicago area?”
Within one week the librarian led me to a book that listed 150 CIOs in Chicago. The information from this book helped me build Actoras into an eight-figure annual business.
I created a niche in the highly competitive management consulting market where no other firm used objectivity in its sales plans. Actoras’ business model was built on objective information strategies. During this time our competition accepted rebates from any hardware and software company they recommended for their clients, making money from both parties. I promoted Actoras as being objective. We would not accept any rebates from companies we recommended to our clients. In addition, to prove it, we did not provide any technology programming. We recommended our clients contract those services through third parties.
People often ask how I created the name of this company. I struggled and tested a variety of names, however, they did not describe its mission. My dear friend Margaret studied Latin. She suggested the Latin word Auctoritas. In English, the translation means authority or advisor. In Latin, words represent either feminine or masculine genders. I felt it was appropriate for my company’s vision and as a feminine gender, it also represented a women-owned enterprise. Believing the word was too complicated, I shortened the company name to Actoras and called it Actoras Consulting Group, Inc.
Actoras grew and grew, but not without many challenges. Expanding into five offices and 150 employees across the United States, was not an easy task. There were many growing pains. As President of the company, there were numerous layers of middle management and clients I never met. But I was proud to say its list of customers included enterprise-wide private companies, government agencies, foreign operations, and more than twenty percent of the Fortune 500. Over the life of the company, it sold more than $40 million in consulting business.
We offered many benefits to our employees including a 401K. Merrill called to schedule a meeting to showcase their ideas on how to manage this plan. I couldn’t wait to see who they selected to present their proposal. I kept an open mind hoping the team would include females or minorities. However, that was not the case. At the end of their hour-long presentation, I asked: “Do you know who the primary owner of Actoras is?”
They replied stating they knew I founded the firm and that I was its President. I told them about my prior experience with Merrill Lynch and turned down their offer to manage our 401K. Karma does exist.
During the height of the mortgage collapse in 2008, Actoras suffered from a loss of clients. One filed for bankruptcy, another sold, and one merged. Each canceled their contracts. The primary large organizations still contracting consulting services during that time were government entities. I attended a bidder’s conference of a large Illinois county requesting bids for an information technology strategy. Their CIO announced no consulting firm would be considered for this project if they had any financial relationships with hardware and software companies. They wanted bids from firms that were objective in their recommendations.
I submitted a bid stating that Actoras invented that niche and grew a massive business by staying objective when performing strategic work. Actoras was not selected for this engagement, probably because they didn’t believe I invented the niche. It was time to move on. I was proud of the fact I grew a business that was able to create a new trend in a saturated market.