By Bridgett Harris
When entrepreneur Ellie RedCloud moved to Germany with her active duty military spouse more than five years ago, she faced a challenge common to most military partners — finding a new job in a new place and trying to reestablish her career. The nomadic nature of military life often means the non-serving spouse either puts their career on hold until their partner retires, or they live in a perpetual cycle of starting over. RedCloud knew the drill, and had years of experience in high-level business development and business strategy roles. She was a great candidate in her field.
But there was a problem. The shift to another country made it hard to find work that used her skill set and paid her in line with her experience.
RedCloud needed to try something new.
She began offering business development services via a digital freelancing platform. It allowed her to work from home and she soon found she made far more money than she could have in any civilian position on base. She even began to out-earn her previous role working in the federal job she left when the family moved.
Over time, RedCloud found she could operate without a freelance intermediary and go out on her own. She established RedCloud Strategic Business Consulting in January 2015, a completely transportable business with a healthy roster of small business clients that she was able to bring with her when the family relocated to Colorado Springs.
RedCloud Strategic Business Consulting focuses on competitive strategy. RedCloud notes that while it’s relatively easy and cheap to register an LLC and get started in business, that simplicity can be deceptive. Strategic planning, market differentiation and growth can be more difficult for a small business.
That’s where RedCloud’s experience can be a big help. She works with small business owners to help them understand their position in the market, create more value and “make the competition irrelevant.”
As a consultant, RedCloud sets herself apart by not focusing on just one aspect of business development. She provides a comprehensive set of services to her clients: competitive analysis, business evaluation, marketing strategy, strategic planning, positioning, social media strategy, customer retention and execution. It’s a tall order, but she makes it work.
“By providing this group of services, I’m able to help people build their businesses while focusing on how to differentiate and create more value to help them get ahead of the competition,” she said.
RedCloud has worked in many different industries, but tech clients dominate her portfolio.
“The majority of my clients are in SaaS, which is software as a service,” she said. “I love that because I like technology. It is a very competitive market and since I focus on competitive strategy, it really allows me to flex my chops to help grow these businesses.”
In addition to the challenges of being a military spouse always on the move, RedCloud notes other obstacles.
“The tech industry does not have a lot of diversity. Being a woman, and then also being an African American woman, makes it a little bit more difficult to compete in that arena,” she said. “People are just not used to seeing people like me in tech.”
RedCloud says while the tech industry may be diversifying at a slower rate, Colorado Springs is much more friendly to minority entrepreneurs. Listing places she’s lived throughout the United States and abroad, Colorado Springs comes out on top for a variety of reasons.
“Thus far I haven’t experienced any negative stereotypes in terms of business,” she said. “I haven’t experienced any personal racism or bias in terms of interacting. Often — not just in tech, but in consulting in general — I walk into a lot of rooms where I’m the only face that looks like me. In Colorado Springs, I literally have not experienced that.”
That sense of welcome and the strong business environment are the reasons RedCloud hopes to make Colorado Springs her family’s permanent home after her husband retires — although she says that the scenery doesn’t hurt either.
“The business community here is growing. It’s thriving,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities to grow and network; it’s a really good place to establish and build a small business.”
Since moving to Colorado Springs, RedCloud has immersed herself in the business community. She is a member of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, an accredited small business consultant, part of the Colorado Springs Black Business Network and a volunteer business consultant with My Black Colorado. She’s looking into joining the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber as well.
“I found that of all the places we’ve lived — and my husband’s been in the military for 12 years — this has been one of the most welcoming communities that I’ve ever been in,” said RedCloud.
“I’ve been very pleased to be a part of the business community here and I’m very excited to actually have a home base for my business now — a place that I can actually call home.”
RedCloud Strategic Business Consulting
Location: 102 S. Tejon St.
Contact: ellieredcloud.com; 719-301-5599