Nichee points directionless clients toward professional success
By Rebecca R. Bibbs
Dea C. Lott knows all about pursuing an education and a career that’s not a good fit. After becoming pregnant while still in high school, the South Bend native found herself adrift as she tried to develop a strategy for self-fulfillment while getting out of poverty.
Lott decided around March 2013 to launch Nichee Career Consulting & Professional Writing in Indianapolis, where she and her family moved when she was in high school.
Nichee offers career services and career development training to help low-skilled workers explore their interests and identify their professional career goals. Clients are coached through the development of application materials, conducting a job search, navigating workplace problems, improving professional imaging, establishing a work-life balance, reentering the workplace and transitioning to new careers.
“But helping these people to identify their personal strengths, talents, and interests can help empower them to define and create a path that can lead them out of the cycle of poverty and bring about lasting change in their lives,” Lott said.
She shares with IMBM what inspired her foray into the world of career consulting and her experiences as an entrepreneur.
IMBM: What inspired you to start Nichee Career Consulting & Professional Writing?
Lott: I think my personal journey through poverty laid the initial foundation for Nichee before I ever realized that I would begin a career consulting firm. Aside from my personal experiences, I have always been pretty good at discerning and nurturing the best qualities within people. And, over the years, numerous students, colleagues, friends and family members have repeatedly come to me to help them identify their strengths, research careers, prepare college and job application materials and professionally address difficult work dynamics. So, I’ve been engaged in this work for many years, but I didn’t decide to take a definitive step toward creating a business until 2013.
My decision to move forward with this business was inspired by the fear and frustration that I noticed among so many workers in the current employment market. As the market has become more competitive, the unemployment rate among minority groups remains high, younger job seekers are struggling to secure work, experienced workers have lost jobs, and employer expectations have become more demanding. These factors are all taking a negative toll on job seekers and workers, but proactive measures can help ease the stress and tension of the current employment market.
IMBM: Why did you choose to start your business in Indiana?
Lott: Since I am originally from Indiana and I have lived in Indianapolis more than half of my life now, it made perfect sense to start my business here. I also started the business here because there appears to be a need for it in Indianapolis. Indianapolis typically ranks fairly low on the lists of the best places to work in the United States. This always surprises me because Indianapolis is a great city for families. To the extent that career dissatisfaction is caused by personal choice or circumstances, this can be changed, and I hope to serve as a driving force to help people find more happiness in their careers and, ultimately, their lives.
IMBM: How did you secure funding to start up your business?
Lott: As is typical with many startups, I used my own funds and contributions from supportive family and friends to fund my business. I set out to keep my startup and operating expenses very low and doing so has made it possible for me to withstand the unpredictability of my first year in business.
IMBM: What has been your biggest challenge, and how are you overcoming it?
Lott: My biggest challenge so far has been solely of internal nature. The practice of law can really change your perspective on every day circumstances and, at times, it can be difficult to truly take off the lawyer hat. However, as time passes, it has become much easier for me to switch between roles.
IMBM: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned while getting your business off the ground?
Lott: I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned as a small business owner is to make sure that I have a support system that understands how difficult it is to create a business. Many people don’t understand or simply aren’t willing to take the risks that entrepreneurs must take to start a business. So, I’ve found that it is important to establish relationships with other business owners who are positive, trustworthy and able to offer encouragement during periods of doubt and frustration.