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Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish: ” Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

The most striking difference between what I thought my business would be and reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. For example, it’s important to hire others to do the things that aren’t in your zone of expertise. I have someone else enter my receipts and do my taxes. In addition, I hired someone […]


The most striking difference between what I thought my business would be and reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. For example, it’s important to hire others to do the things that aren’t in your zone of expertise. I have someone else enter my receipts and do my taxes. In addition, I hired someone to develop social media content. Focus on what you do well and outsource the rest.


As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, based in Colfax, Wisconsin. Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has written thousands of resume for clients in a variety of fields. Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish has a BBA in Management, an MBA, and a PhD in Organization and Management.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

As a child, I always loved to write and enjoyed doing book reports and research in school. If a teacher told us to make a report five pages long, I was already thinking about how I could make mine longer than the requirement. I always enjoyed school and looked forward to writing projects. This allowed me to fall in love with the concept of writing and weaving stories together — providing documents and information that others would enjoy reading..

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

After I finished my MBA and was working full-time, I decided to start a writing business ‘“on-the-side.” I volunteered with a local city organization and told them I would write several pieces in exchange for them providing me with a testimonial. And, because I was in a hiring position in my full-time job, people kept coming to me for resume help and advice. Eventually, someone that I provided advice to told me that she would just rather have me “fix” it and asked what I charged for that service.

It was in that moment that I realized people got paid to write resumes from others. I researched the industry, discovered that there were certifications that could be obtained and that I would be able to work with anyone located anywhere.

It was in the summer of 2014 when I was turned down for a full-time teaching position at a local technical college that I decided to plunge full-time into my business. As soon as I made that mental decision, my business thrived and I became even more successful. Now, my business more than pays our bills and I have the time freedom to work my business around my life instead of scheduling my life around my work.

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

When you are starting your business, you will definitely make mistakes. I know that I did! You cannot sell yourself short and need to ensure you are charging enough for your services. Join a professional organization and learn from the stories of others; and, if something works, don’t “reinvent the wheel.”

As an entrepreneur, you have to build systems and processes that allow your services and offerings to be repeatable. Start with what you have and where you are. My first website was made by a friend for $100. Once I had a steady stream of income, I paid a company to develop a website that is more professional. Figure out what works for your industry and for you. Don’t try to do everything at once; instead, focus on what brings you business and do MORE of that.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

If you are unsure if your business is something that you want to do for a living, I would encourage people to try it as a part-time gig for a year. Then, if you find that you still enjoy it and people are willing to pay you for that service, consider doing it for a living.

The biggest thing you need as an entrepreneur is FAITH. Deciding to turn your hobby into a full-time business is scary and exciting — all at the same time. You need to know that clients will come, people will need your services, and what you offer has value. Trying it out as a part-time business will allow you to build that faith muscle before making the leap into full-time.

And, don’t worry about where you live or where you came from. I live in a very rural part of northwestern Wisconsin where the closest town has approximately 1,000 people. I now have clients all over the United States (and beyond). Don’t forget to dream big and outside of your comfort zone — I even have clients in Australia!

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

I really don’t have to work at this too hard. In fact, to me, there is nothing better than receiving a call or email from a past client who just landed his or her dream job and thanks you for writing the resume. Anytime that I get too “busy” with clients, my son always says something like, “Isn’t this what you wanted?” Once he says that, I realize that he is correct. I am helping people change their lives and I am getting PAID to do something that I love every single day.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

The thing that I love the most is that I can make my business work around my life. If I want to take my son to school in the morning, I can do that and don’t have to ask someone else if that is “okay”. In addition, I can choose who I want to work with and can decide how ‘busy’ I want to be.

The downsides are that sometimes I am working in the evenings because I am a sole proprietor. However, I consistently remember that I don’t have to report to an office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. In addition, maybe my working one evening per week allows me to spend my Friday afternoon with my family.

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

The most striking difference between what I thought my business would be and reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. For example, it’s important to hire others to do the things that aren’t in your zone of expertise. I have someone else enter my receipts and do my taxes. In addition, I hired someone to develop social media content. Focus on what you do well and outsource the rest.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?

No! anytime I have ever come close to thinking this, I remind myself of how hard I have worked to get to this point and realize that I would never want to go back to work full-time at another organization. I am responsible for my own success or failure. I choose to be successful every day and will never rely on someone else to determine my worth.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

I grew up with two parents who worked in factory positions and neither of them liked their jobs. I knew I was going to college as a young child and didn’t even know what college was at the time. Looking back, I know they wanted me to go to school so that I had choices in life. They were great leaders (and continue to be) because they worked hard and always let me know that I could do whatever I choose to do in the future.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I have volunteered through Junior Achievement, served on several Boards of Directors, and provide workshops and seminars that encourage others to follow their dreams and discover how to write and think of themselves positively. It’s important to be a good example for others and let them know that they can make a difference in this world.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Think about what you truly love to do. Then, figure out a way to make money doing that thing. There is nothing better than not dreading the work week and knowing that your work and passion are making a difference in the lives of others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have never been afraid of hard work and have known to be determined in everything I do. My favorite quote is from Thomas Edison:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Building a business is a huge opportunity — but, it is a lot of work. Don’t be afraid to go for that opportunity and put in the work. Trust me, it is worth it!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Richard Branson would be the person I would love to have breakfast with — on his island! He started with very little and has become a huge success. He is creative, innovative, and constantly thinking of ways to be even more successful and encourages others to do the same.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


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