Business Q & A

Five questions with Jill Miller

Jill D. Miller got her degree in entrepreneurship in 2001, but she's been an entrepreneur since childhood.

For instance, when she was just 7, Miller published a neighborhood newspaper.

These days, Miller is a business development consultant and has a company called Creative Solutions.

"I help people start businesses, and I help existing businesses grow," she said.

Miller also offers training in customer service, relationship building and sales.

How did you wind up with your own consulting firm?

"From the time I was a little kid, I knew that what I wanted to do was just start my own business.... I always just really have liked the idea of being able to do what I really want to do."

Hmmm. Does it actually work that way?

"No. Now instead of having one boss, I have, like, 10 bosses. In fact, I want to please them more than I ever wanted to please my bosses, really."

Even after you've helped a business open, you stay around to help figure out things such as business systems and HR solutions. Why?

"So they can run the business instead of the business running them."

You have said that the best part of your job is helping people achieve their dreams. What happens when it doesn't work?

"When it turns out to be their worst nightmare instead of their dreams? Well, I try to help them learn from what they're doing.

"There's an awful lot of hand-holding in consulting. It's really amazing. So many times we stand in our own way of being successful.

"In sales, you tell people what they want to hear. When you're in consulting, you have to tell people what they don't want to hear, but it's important."

You're on the board of the National Federation of Press Women, and your title is director of fun. What happens when you're not having fun?

"This is boring, but I really try to think about what it is that I'm down about and think, is this valid or not, and what can I do about this?... Taking action is the best thing for me to do. Having a plan.

"I do the same thing with my businesses when they're struggling. They have to have a plan. When you have a plan, it just feels so much better."