Looking for love in all the wrong places? Nicci Sprouse might be able to help.
Last month, she launched Ask Nicci, a dating service that caters to single professionals. The Central Ohio native says she started the business because she saw a need for an affordable personalized dating service in the area.
“Working on my clients’ behalf as their agent, I personally meet and screen all their dates to ensure that everyone is introduced to quality singles that are good potential mates,” she says.
In addition, Sprouse pens a dating advice column (also called “Ask Nicci”) for online women’s publication Cincy Chic. The column debuts today− Valentine’s Day.
Read the following interview with Sprouse to learn who has given her business advice and support, what she does in a typical day’s work, and how she handles the challenges that come with entrepreneurship.
Melanie McIntyre: First off, what resources did you use to get Ask Nicci up and running?
Nicci Sprouse: I utilized my network of friends and fellow entrepreneurs, which was crucial for getting my business up and running. My entire network has rallied behind me with support: a website developer/Internet marketer business owner in my network donated his time and efforts towards building my website, and a social media expert’s help has been invaluable. In addition to these contacts, a new client, who believes in me and trusts my business concept, has signed up for my services and paid his full membership upfront in an effort to help get my business up and running.
MM: Did you have any local advisers, role models, or mentors you relied on for advice and input when you started the business?
NS: Many people, both personally and professionally, have encouraged me with advice and support. Greg Leffel, a local entrepreneur, has definitely been a mentor to me and a key component to my success. Being an entrepreneur himself, he knows what it takes to launch a successful business. In addition, I have relied heavily on the expertise of my friend, Rachel Miller, who is an expert in social media, as well as a close friend. Anything along the lines of advice or mentoring I’ve needed, I have been able to access through connections I’ve made here in Columbus.
MM: Take me through a typical workday. What do you do on a daily basis?
NS: My typical workday always consists of some form of networking, which is a major component to building my business. When not at a networking event or meeting with clients, I am scheduling introductions and dates, updating social media, or simply staying informed on what some of the hot trends are in the dating world.
MM: What were you doing professionally before starting Ask Nicci and how has that work experience affected the way you do business?
NS: Professionally speaking, I have always been in some type of relationship-sales position prior to starting Ask Nicci. I am drawn to positions that allow me to build relationships. I jumped at the chance to be the ultimate relationship builder −a matchmaker− and accepted a position as the director for a millionaire matchmaking service in Cincinnati.
MM: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business owner and how did you overcome it?
NS: Honestly, as silly as it sounds, my biggest challenge so far has been maneuvering around my own “head trash,” meaning not allowing myself to be defeated each time a road block presents itself. I am learning to make decisions quickly and either pushing through the roadblocks or switching to Plan B while adjusting my plan accordingly.
MM: In your opinion, what is the worst part about running a dating service?
NS: Time management. As all entrepreneurs starting new businesses know, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! Finding the time to meet with my clients, being out in the city networking, staying on top of singles trends, in addition to running my daily operations, is definitely schedule-intensive.
I always make it a point to stay in touch with new hotspots and restaurant openings that I can send my clients on dates to, as well as new or existing businesses that are value-added that I can refer my clients to. Ultimately, the foundation of my business is to personally meet with, and screen, all my clients and their dates to ensure that everyone is introduced to quality, must-meet singles that truly are potential matches− this I will always make time for.
MM: What is the best part about running a dating service?
NS: Second dates! The best part of running a dating service is when two people I’ve introduced had a great first date and decide to go out on a second. The possibilities are endless and that is the best part about what I do.
MM: Is there anything else you think I should know?
NS: I am very passionate about what I do with the dating service aspect of the business, as well as the advice I give in my weekly column. Most people do not know that I am intrigued by different personalities and am fascinated learning about people. Having a sincere interest in wanting to help others and truly hearing what people have to say definitely sets me apart.
To learn more about Ask Nicci, visit AskNicci.com.