Hera Hub is excited to share Startup Stories of our members. We periodically interview incredible business women from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Our goal is to share our members’ wonderful stories with the public.
Amanda Hirko is the founder of Hirko Consulting Inc. She helps college-bound students, grades 812, find best-fit colleges and guides them through the application process. Her services support these students by helping them navigate the college admissions process informed, organized and feeling less stressed.
Amanda has been a member of Hera Hub Sorrento Valley for three years.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I had been a high school English teacher in Michigan for almost ten years when my family moved to San Diego in 2000. I stayed home with my two daughters for a few years and tutored students in writing. Many of these students wanted help with college essays, and although I could help them with basic writing conventions, I knew there was much more to creating a stand-out college essay. Pair that with wanting a more substantial career, I enrolled in and earned UCSD’s Certificate in College Counseling in 2006 and began a full-service college consulting business!
Who are your clients and what do you do for them?
My clients are both the parents of high school students and the students themselves, so communication is key. In 9th and 10th grades, families are introduced to the college admissions process, getting their questions answered, making choices about classes, activities and visits to avoid surprises and keep options open. In 11th and 12th grades, through both face-to-face and online meetings, students create a resume, a college list, develop their voice, write essays, follow an individualized plan for applications and the details required for each school; they are essentially guided through each piece of the college admission process from applications to decisions.
What are your business’ values? How do they align with your personal values?
I have always been an educator, and my commitment to students’ best interests, their needs and wants, run deep. Therefore, I run my business as I would my classroom, with high ethical standards and a sincere focus on the individual. I aim to relieve the stress of a high-stress endeavor and help ease the strain this can bring on parent/ student relationships with expertise and a wide-ranging knowledge of colleges and their programs. Trust is extremely important to convey and practice when working with vulnerable teens, and a family’s confidence is the cornerstone of my business!
How/Why did you choose your business name?
Because I wanted something in a hurry, and I was not feeling creative!
What do you love most about your work?
Witnessing the moments of self-discovery, the nervous clicking of the “SUBMIT” button, and the messages of acceptance! Being a part of kids’ lives, at this important juncture, is an incredible honor and joy!
What is the biggest challenge in running your own business?
I have always seen myself as a teacher, not as a business owner; therefore, the business practices that come naturally to many, often escape me. I think it took me seven years before I personalized and branded handouts, started keeping track of ALL time spent, and got better about discussing fees without feeling uncomfortable. Hera Hub helped me learn to value my work, implement business practices consistently, and examine my purpose and future!
What are your/your business’ goals for the future?
I’ve started to look long-term and recognize two main goals: I want to be able to serve more students who can’t afford a high sticker price, and I want to scale back my own involvement in the next 10-20 years. So, I’m working on an e-course that I hope will create passive income. Marketing will be a huge endeavor in 2018!
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Set work time, schedules, and stick to them. You make the rules, and if you don’t want to work on Saturdays, do not be available on Saturdays! Also, don’t try to be an expert in everything. I’m learning that it’s OK to invest in my business so I can focus on my strengths and let others do something for me that I don’t want to do.