I was never really that good at school. I remember back in elementary school falling behind in turning in homework because there was so much to do and I wasn’t able to understand it all. I often needed a lot of help. By freshman year in High School, I had to start in “pre-algebra” and “intro to biology,” which were remedial classes for students who were not testing well in math and science in grades K-8. To get into undergrad and grad school, I needed to come in on probationary status because of a poor GPA and low ACT & GRE scores. It was demoralizing for me throughout my education and was often the source of low self-esteem.
Fortunately, I was able to find a place where I did well: the social sciences. My GPA and testing in those courses was very good and by the time I got in grad school to earn my MPA things started to make sense, as the coursework started to hone in on what I was passionate about.
I was also very creative, had strong interpersonal and presentation skills, thrived in unexpected, stressful situations, and had inherently strong leadership skills. Unfortunately, our education system doesn’t do a good job of evaluating or even highlighting such skills. Later in life, I would come to realize such skills are ideal for city managers and entrepreneurs!
17 months ago I founded DP Consulting, LLC (presently D/B/A InnoGov). My goal was to take my 16 year career in city management and pivot into a private sector venture. Taking what I know from operational management in local government and still focus on improving communities but doing so as a consultant and entrepreneur.
So far my four practice areas have been:
- General Government Consulting
- Web Services (websites, SEO, e-communications, etc.)
- Local Government Bid/RFP Searching for Companies
One of my most enjoyable experiences has been business building. One business I built was City Manager Insights. A daily news feed in one’s email of over 100 articles, manually hand-picked by people who know what city managers are interested in. The rate was $99 per year. The content was excellent. Unfortunately, we realized this was not a sustainable business and today I announced that we will be shutting down on October 31, 2018. Here is what I sent to my subscribers.
Dear City Manager Insights Subscriber,
Just over one year ago I left the city management profession and founded my company, InnoGov. Despite my leap into the private sector, which has a fundamental profit-driven focus, I was still passionate about creating sustainable communities that improve lives. So I partnered with an established electronic media company who had been successful at distributing local government content in Illinois through a paid subscription service.
We replicated the model they had been successful with for over a decade: Manually searching for approximately one hundred articles everyday that would be of interest to those professionals dedicated to improving the health, safety, and welfare of communities. That is why we created City Manager Insights (CMI).
Although the mission of CMI is to support public sector professionals, it’s still a private sector venture and as such, can only continue to exist through growth. While many people have expressed enjoyment of CMI and I am proud of what we accomplished, it is an unsustainable business model. Therefore, on October 31, 2018 we will be issuing our final edition of City Manager Insights.
We appreciate all of the paid subscribers and supporters that have helped us build this venture into what it is. And because of your loyalty and support, we will be refunding all of the paid subscribers their $99 subscription. We hope that you have enjoyed City Manager Insights.
Please know that I endeavor to help build sustainable communities. Today, I am the President of eAllianceGov, a company whose mission is to eliminate repetitive, mundane tasks and overcome expensive and cumbersome integrations, in order to increase productivity, thus improving the quality of life of citizens and their communities. Please visit us at www.ealliancegov.com . Our solutions are cutting edge. We refer to this as Automation as a Service. From robotic process automation, which rapidly completes any repetitive computer tasks to AI-enabled chatbots which can exist in facebook, text, email, Alexa and others. We’re also seeking agencies interested in leveraging the power of Blockchain. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a product demonstration. We also have several commercial clients receiving major ROI since deploying our solutions.
Once again, thank you for support of CMI. Feel free to reach out and follow me on LinkedIn as well. I would enjoy chatting with you. www.linkedin.com/in/dougpetroshius.
Co-Founder of City Manager Insights
Why did we fail? I believe it’s because our timing was wrong. This video explains it all. Why Businesses Fail. It says that timing is everything. We created a business model built around content sent by email. Unfortunately, that model was ideal for the 2000’s but not today. The problem today is not that there is enough unique content (the City Manager Insights value proposition), but the problem is that there is too much content. People are looking for ways to sift through it all. Services like the Goole News apps are becoming exceptionally good at retrieving news that you like and articles that you might be interested in based on an algorithm. While I personally think our content is better, we can’t beat the price point they offer: FREE.
Why I Still Feel Good about this Experience
Since venturing into the private sector I have been read a lot about success stories of other entrepreneurs. What I have learned is that failure in business is a requisite to be successful in business. Some of the richest business people in the world did so by starting a business, only being forced to start over again later. This is what is meant by failure in business. In fact, the common piece that I keep reading is that the most successful entrepreneurs enjoy failure because it means they are on the road to success. It’s counterintuitive, but in reality it’s true. You learn the best from failure. Your passion becomes reignited and you hunger for more. You end up having more after a failure, than when you last began. You have more knowledge, a larger network, and a greater capacity and reputation for taking risk.
These are all things they don’t teach you in school. In fact, in school it’s just the opposite. I learned this from Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He points out that what they teach in school is the opposite of what is needed for business.
- Business is a team sport, you need to be able to work with others – In school, that’s considered cheating
- In Business you hope you make mistakes because that is how you learn – In school, they expect perfection and punish mistakes
- In Business and in life, repetition is one of the key ways to learn – In school, they move fast and avoid revisiting older content
- In Business you must be creative to survive and have excellent interpersonal skills – In school, these traits are not measured and therefore, are often not built into the curriculum
Here is a great article which reinforces the positive impacts of failure:
21 Entrepreneurs Who Failed Big Before Becoming a Success
One final note. Remember at the beginning when I talked about my challenges in school? The silver lining in all of it is that, as my mother often reminds me, I was persistent! I never gave up on anything. I saw things through to the end. I did everything that was assigned to me.
An example of this was in eighth grade when we had to pass the US constitution test in order to get into high school. I ended up retaking that thing 3 times!! Had to go to the teacher after school until I passed. I often wonder if the teacher just threw his hands in the air and passed me, hoping that I’d go on to be a law-abiding US citizen and contribution to society. I honestly can’t remember what the name of my teacher was back then or if he’d remember me, but I’m sure he’d get a kick out of knowing that I ended up with a BA in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration with a career in City Management!
And the Journey continues…..