Whether it’s serving as a business consultant, writing a book, developing computer software, hosting a podcast or blogging, Urbana resident Jon Umstead wears many hats in his quest to provide entrepreneurs, business owners and organizational leaders with the necessary tools to be successful in whatever venture they dream to pursue.
Armed with a bachelor of science degree in management science from Wright State University and an executive MBA from The Ohio State University, Umstead was nearly three decades into a successful business career – had just helped grow a business from an annual revenue of $20 million to over $80 million – when three people close to him took their own lives within a short period of time. The ordeal, Umstead said, left him faced with several deep-probing questions about the direction his life was heading.
“Emotionally, it really put me in a dark place,” he said. “It caused me to step back and think about where I was heading, what I’ve been doing, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be, and was I being true to myself?
“Ultimately, I thought about those three people, and kind of the underlying theme of all of them was they felt overwhelmed by something in their life. I just thought, how can I help others feel less overwhelmed?” he pondered.
Taking into account his education and knowledge of the business world, Umstead decided the best way he could help others overcome the stresses involved in running a successful business or leading an organization was to become a coach or consultant. In 2013, he did just that when he took on the role of an independent business consultant.
“I had the benefit of having had a really good business coach (Rich Tafel),” Umstead said. “I thought if I could just do a fraction of the good he did for me, that would be a great thing.”
Birth of the ‘Business is ART’ brand
Early into his new career as a business consultant, Umstead realized that to set himself apart from others in the field, he needed to define what his work entailed. Instead of just putting together a brochure or creating social media pages, he went all out.
“I decided a good way to define what I do would be to actually write a book,” he said. “I really wrote (“Business is ART”) for that purpose, to define me as a consultant and to create something of a calling card for potential clients.”
Published in October 2015, the book aims to help small business owners, CEOs and organizational leaders become success stories by remembering there’s an “ART” to the planning process, which involves ‘A’rticulating a plan, ‘R’evising that plan, and ‘T’racking it.
Umstead pointed out that studies show formal business planning doubles the odds of a startup making it, however, similar studies show two-thirds of small business owners in the United States don’t do any kind of planning.
“Those businesses who make it past that one- to two-year bubble that have formal business planning processes also do minimally 30 percent better than others, so I always say I increase your odds by 30 to 50 percent or more,” he said. “That’s really the objective of all of this, to increase their odds of success.”
Umstead estimates “Business is ART,” available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and on his website at businessisart.net, has made it into the hands of approximately 3,000 people, a success in his opinion.
“It’s a little better than the goal,” he said. “I didn’t write it to sell books. I wrote it to define me and leaving a calling card, so I marketed it that way.”
Moving the ‘Business is ART’ brand forward
Having worked in the computer software industry prior to becoming a consultant and author, it didn’t take Umstead long to realize another business venture was staring him right in the face as he penned “Business is ART.”
“I sat down to write a book, but as I was doing the outline, I saw software,” he said.
Since putting the finishing touches on the book, Umstead has spent the last two years working on his next “Business is ART” brand product – a business-planning software based on the book.
Currently being tested by roughly a dozen individuals, the software is in the first of two stages of beta testing. For round two of the testing, expected to begin in mid-March, Umstead hopes to recruit 30 to 50 individuals with some type of business interest to take part. Interested parties can sign up at businessisart.net or at “Jon Umstead, Consultant” on Facebook.
“It’s kind of a good deal for everyone,” he said in regards to the beta testing. “It’s good for me because I get real world application and input on how to make it better. What (testers) get is free use of the software, and they are going to walk away with actual real business strategies and plans.”
Umstead added he tailored the software so it’s usable for virtually anyone, not just those with business backgrounds or business degrees.
“I wanted to develop something that all types of people and organizations could use that helps make their lives better,” he said. “That’s the end game.”
Once the beta testing process wraps up, Umstead hopes to launch the software on July 1.