Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I do college planning. I work with families of college-bound high school students, helping navigate the complexities of college admission and financial aid systems. I've been doing this since 2005 and the class of 2013 will be our eighth season of kids.
Business: The College Authority
Owner: Cori Murphy
Address: 815 Bennett Ave., Medford
Facebook: The College Authority
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I moved here in 2005 from Klamath Falls.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? When we moved to the Rogue Valley I was doing financial advising. I needed a marketing hook to get in front of more people and gather more assets. When I found the college-planning niche, I fell in love with it and gravitated to that line of work. I learned from my own experience in college that I made a lot of mistakes. If I knew then what I know now, I could have done it better and cheaper. So now I get to share that with families.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would have hired my first employee sooner. It's allowed me to free up my time. Instead of doing it all, I'm delegating the real time-consuming, day-to-day stuff and it frees me up to help more families.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? Hiring is a big risk and expense. This is my company and to share that with someone and bring someone in to help, making that financial commitment to the business and another person is a little scary. This is the first business I've owned. We go into business because we have a product or service we love and want to share. We don't go into business because we know how to run a business. We learn that along the way. I've learned to keep going and take that next step, make that next call and do the next marketing piece and keep moving forward.
Who are your competitors? Around here, I'm alone in what I do, but there is a lot of misinformation and lack information. People don't know what's ahead and they should do their due diligence and should take control of their college planning. The high schools give a lot of information about college admissions, but it's not proactive. People are talking to friends and neighbors, but they are missing the financial pieces, the affordability pieces and how much their family can afford to spend on college.
What are your goals? I want to expand our footprint. The bulk of our clients come out of the Rogue Valley. We'll go to Klamath Falls and Roseburg this year and maybe in five years up to the Eugene area. Most of our families come off referrals from previous families we've worked with or financial advisors or accountants.
What training or education did you need? I was a licensed financial adviser for a number of years with South Valley Wealth Management. I do continuing education on the financial pieces and admissions every month. I went to Southern Oregon University and have a bachelor's degree in communications.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Match those with a business model and a mentor who has a heart to share with you.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email email@example.com.