30 Years of Hope and Determination
As I look back on the past 30 years of Cotter Consulting, I realize that it has been a non-stop adventure. I often characterize the journey as a “Stairway to Heaven”— always onward and upward. Always learning and growing. Always adapting to challenges. I could never have imagined as I started the 30th year with my company that we would all be facing a global pandemic. It’s caused me to reflect on the journey of our firm and reminded me to move through the experience with hope and determination, based on what I’ve learned during the past 30 years.
I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur. I had been on a four-year sabbatical after leaving a great firm, Walsh Higgins, in 1986 to stay home with my two children. I enjoyed it so much that I had two more children during that time. Despite my parental joy, I missed the profession. I had always loved being a project manager and had maintained relationships with several professional colleagues who were active in the industry, working for real estate firms.
So, in early 1990, feeling restless to return to the work I loved, I began to explore avenues where I could return without compromising my number one priority: raising my children. At the time, the real estate development and construction industries required long hours in the office. Unlike today, there was absolutely no flexibility. One of my professional acquaintances suggested owners’ representative services as being a need in the industry. I believed that my experience as a construction manager for a large CM firm, and my experience managing project for real estate developers gave me the knowledge to manage capital projects for companies that were embarking on an office relocation or new building but didn’t have the internal expertise. I believed I could manage my workload to have the time to raise my children. I believed that I could forge a path forward.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first step I took was to visit the library and get a book on writing a business plan. I talked to several professionals in the industry to develop a vision and core purpose. I wrote my business plan and moved forward with hope and determination to launch Cotter Consulting on September 1, 1990.
AN ACCIDENTAL ENTREPRENEUR IS BORN
It takes a genuine passion for the work to be a successful entrepreneur. The passion for building was instilled in me by my father when I was in grammar school. He was a concrete contractor and a real estate developer. Building is in my DNA. That passion for creating and solving problems has always been at my core. I love to be on a construction site.
My business life has been an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs. It was my faith and the faith and support of my husband Bill that has kept me going for the past 30 years. I have always maintained an attitude of moving onward and upward. Always trying to be better. This attitude has driven me to succeed. But make no mistake, fear of failure is also a powerful motivator!
THE WINNING FORMULA
I’ve learned that as an entrepreneur, I can never rest on my laurels. Adapting to change is essential to long term success. I have always had an attitude of trying to be better every day. Good is never good enough.
The downside to this approach is that not everyone is comfortable with the continual drive. The velocity of change created in a dynamic environment can be unsettling. I have had to learn to tone down my tornado approach to business and to be sensitive to the viewpoint of my staff.
It takes a lot of talented people working together to build. Over the years, I have come to understand that collaboration and communication are as important as technical skills on each project. A strong, unified team is an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.
There is no magic to entrepreneurship. It requires a lot of hard work, fortitude, faith, trust, vision and goals. You will be knocked down and when that happens, you must pick yourself up and keep going. Always surround yourself with people who believe in you, who challenge you to be your best and who you can learn from.
I am confident that the future of Cotter holds many great things for all of our Cotter team. We have adapted well to the disruption caused by corona and I know we are poised for whatever the future holds.