Amy Bethea founded The Research Masters LLC in 2010, and lead its growth from a small team of people to a leader in developing curriculum and assessment for some of the biggest names in the educational marketplace.
Since its beginning, Amy has transformed The Research Masters into a best-in-class organization that includes multiple teams that collectively are comprised of over one hundred leaders in the fields of education, publishing and nursing. Through her leadership and vision, The Research Masters has delivered hundreds of print and online learning programs for some of the biggest names in the educational marketplace across a variety of disciplines and audiences.
As a 21-year educational publishing veteran, Amy believes in the need to respond to change by adjusting methods of development and delivery to meet the current educational climate. Lifelong.Media is the culmination of this belief and also reflects her passion that to teach, is to touch a life—forever.
In this interview, Amy shares her passion about inspiring and teaching people of all ages to be equipped for success. She also shares an adage about how we're living our life, as well as the importance of keeping our fear under control. Enjoy!
Her Advice for Entrepreneurs Starting a business in North Carolina:
Get involved in social media outlets. Focus on presenting yourself as an authority in your industry. Seek out experienced entrepreneurs. Attend webinars, seminars and meetings. And last, establish an inner circle of trusted people who will help you.
What ignited the spark in you to start a business?
I love to inspire – there are so many things I want to share, that starting a business provided the perfect platform for. I love being creative and having my own business allows for creativity-freedom! I also love learning and doing new things and having my own business allows for personal and professional growth.
Where did the idea for Lifelong Media come from?
It came from a desire that I had along with one of my team members to start a fun, animation-based project for our special needs children called, The Polka Dot Project. One conversation and one email led to many, many more … and we came up with the idea for Lifelong Media – an edutainment company & social enterprise designed to impart lifelong learning of core values – soft skills – for learners of all ages to be equipped for success in their personal lives and careers.
What is unique about your business?
So many things! One of the foremost things we're unique in is that we're going to build the country’s first adaptive learning platform delivering soft skills training and development for students and professionals.
Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the rest?
Yes! Our content is originated and curated by industry professionals (our nursing material is developed by leading nurses, etc.) and we have a plethora of talent on the team of educators and creators well-versed in their crafts to really make a solid, credible learning experience whether it be by one of our game-based simulations, animated videos or adaptive learning paths.
In your experience, what is the best way to find your ideal customer?
Word-of-mouth advertising, is by far the best form of advertisement. People tend to take recommendations from people they know, like and trust over a generic ad. So the key is getting enough people excited and talking about your product so that they will then take it to their warm markets –their close circle of family and friends. This process will self-replicate automatically, as more and more people become enamored with your product, which will create ultimate and lasting success.
Are there any mistakes that our readers can learn from?
Yes – be focused. Sometimes, I wasn't always focused and I caused myself unnecessary heartache! If you spread your message over broad waters this can sometimes be frustrating and take much longer to see results. It's important to target efforts properly to those who really want what you're offering.
As a business owner, what's your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?
Well, I really try not to harbor fears. Fear is paralyzing and causes stumbling blocks to success. I try to keep my fear under control; to realize problems happen all the time, every day.
I live by the adage: There are only three ways we live life: 1.) We are in a problem, 2.) We just overcame a problem, or 3.) A problem is on the way. So, the key is always to perfect the skills of problem management and conflict resolution. By keeping a balanced view of problems, they no longer cause fear. Rather, I'm challenged to display the skill-set of handling, mitigating and resolving problems so that the business can continue on.
How did you find the time and money to get Lifelong Media off the ground?
Time is our most precious commodity – and honestly, I didn’t have any extra. Money is always challenging – so finding extra money is one problem I encountered numerous times early on. I literally have had to steal time & money from other pursuits in life – for instance, I'm a mom of three and I opted to sacrifice a family vacation this summer in favor of getting Lifelong Media off the ground. I still did things with my kids, but in less extravagant settings and inexpensively.
I also had a beautiful core team of people who volunteered their time and all pitched in to help get things up and running. We all realize that anything worthwhile involves a sacrifice – and together we sacrificed what we could to make Lifelong Media a wonderful reality. Teamwork makes the dream work! I love my team!!!
Any advice for entrepreneurs with minimal time or resources?
Yes – Be persistent. Be creative and resourceful. Ask for help. Find like-minded people. Put your idea out before several trusted people in your circle and see what everyone can do to help you. The saying, “everyone does a little to make a lot” is so true. With everyone pitching in, the burden is less on any one person and much can be accomplished.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or customer? Yes. If so, how did you handle the situation?
With my first company, The Research Masters, I had client who expected a lot of things to be done in very small amounts of time. I gave our educated evaluation on the situation and then proceeded to do the very best we could do.
When things didn't go as the client anticipated, I sent documented proof that we did our best in the allotted time given to us, which consisted of the reactions from other team members who also felt the schedule wasn't orchestrated properly, as well as industry experts who worked with us who felt the same way.
After this experience, we continued to work with this client, but from this point forward they always listened to us and took our concerns into account before making any major plans during product development.
Have you faced any failures with Lifelong Media?
We haven't had any failures to date – we're still making good headway.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business?
We have secured a phenomenal strategic partner who's going to really help us with animation development and distribution. We're super-excited!
What was the number one thing you did to get there?
Good communication, teamwork and collaboration!
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape Lifelong Media?
Valenica Pamphile. She is a self-made millionaire. Her insight, example and influence never cease to inspire me. She rocks!!! Her influence and example continues to inspire and give me the proper mindset to maintain my persistence to remain focused and pursue the necessary avenues to make Lifelong Media a reality, come what may!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in North Carolina who have a business idea but don’t know where to get started?
A few things:
- Get involved in social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest – are all great ways to find like minded people who may be doing what you are doing and to get connected with potential business partners, creators, angel investors or other forms of support. Focus on presenting yourself as an authority in your industry. Send out regular messages and postings that will inform, educate and inspire others about your business. This will help you build an audience and connect with the right people.
- Seek out experienced entrepreneurs – talk to them and ask them tons of questions; read about their accomplishments.
- Attend webinars, seminars and meetings that discuss starting a business, building teams, funding, and other relevant issues in your industry and similar things that can benefit you.
- Establish an inner circle of trusted people who will help you, give you advice, and contribute time and intellectual property and lastly, who will be in your corner no matter what.
If you want to follow updates from Amy and how Lifelong Media nurtures lifelong learning, check her out on Twitter.