Like thousands of others, HR Allies founder Danielle Verderosa spent the first six months of the COVID pandemic contemplating if this was the right time for her to do something new with her career. And when the hospitality company she worked for was ultimately forced to lay off more than 60% of its nationwide workforce that year, she knew it was time to leave.
She had never thought about owning her own business before. But Danielle, who had more than 20 years of human resources management experience, was convinced that she had an expertise that would benefit small businesses.
“I knew I wanted to be a Human Resources consultant and support small businesses that couldn’t afford to have their own full-time HR expert on staff,” says Danielle. “But other than choosing a company name and registering with the Commonwealth, I had no idea what one did to actually start a business.”
In October 2020, a month before leaving her position as a corporate Vice President of Human Resources, Danielle contacted Mason Small Business Development Center and was connected to George Siragusa for a one-on-one counseling session.
“That first meeting was the gateway to all of the business success I’ve had with HR Allies,” says Danielle. “I was expecting to get a checklist of transactions that I had to accomplish to make my company ‘official’. Instead, I got a very wise, accomplished, and successful entrepreneur who guided me through the principles of “The Lean Start-Up” so that I was being smart and strategic from Day 1.”
Over the course of the next months, Coach George helped Danielle identify and refine her unique value proposition that would differentiate HR Allies from the large field of other Human Resources consultants, then make sure that those services would resonate with potential clients.
“I’m practical and pragmatic, and I think there’s a lot of HR fluff out there that other consultants get excited about but I find unnecessary,” says Danielle. “Instead, HR Allies focuses on what companies of all sizes need to have to stay out of trouble and maximize their labor investment.”
HR Allies does this by building what Danielle calls “HR foundations” for small businesses of 2 to 99 employees. HR foundations protect small businesses from human resource risk because they ensure compliance with the long list of employment laws, and they provide the framework for recruiting and retaining the very best employees.
As she finishes her second year in business, Danielle credits Coach George and Mason SBDC for not letting her business fail in the early days.
“I’ve connected to lots of other solopreneurs who started their businesses about the same time I did,” says Danielle. “Every time I hear someone struggling to make inroads in a crowded field of competitors, I always wonder if they did their homework first, the way Coach George advised me, or if they just winged it the way I was going to before I met Coach George!”