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Conversations with the Inspiring Shaniqua Rischer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaniqua Rischer.

Shaniqua, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My life is not the life I planned to live. But then, again, is anybody living the life they expected to live? I wanted to be a doctor, but instead, I am a business owner – and I would not have it any other way. Through the years, I tried entrepreneurship a few times, each time returning to the comfort of a regular 9 to 5 job with a guaranteed paycheck. Eventually, again, I either left my job and quit or once was laid off (right before I quit). I joked back then that they paid me to go with an excellent severance package when I planned to leave for free two weeks later. Yet how did I get where I am today, and exactly where is here?

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998. I just knew when I finished that I was never returning to school again, and I was reluctantly returning home to Dallas until I could afford to move somewhere else. After working in a dead-end job, I started an event and wedding planning business with some friends while working full time in that job. I am detailed oriented and always excelled in planning, be it casual gatherings or elaborate affairs. From that business, two things happened that definitively placed my life on two parallel roads. While planning events, I had the opportunity to work with a para-ministry called Spirit Groove as an event planner. That was not the beginning of my call to ministry, but it was an avenue that impacted my spiritual development profoundly. At the same time, my event planning business opened the door for me to work with a nonprofit agency in Dallas dedicated to helping children and families. Because I had an event planning background, I naturally fit into the development and fundraising team because a large part of raising money centers around events. From there, I gained the knowledge and skill set that would help me become a grant writer and nonprofit consultant. Professionally, I served as a Volunteer Manager at the Dallas Public Library and planning book festivals to becoming a Director of Development and Outreach for a nationally recognized charter school, to becoming a Director of a start-up workforce development program, to the Workforce Grant Manager at one of the community colleges before branching out on my own. Personally, while all of that was going on in my career, I felt a call to serve in ministry. So I proved myself wrong and returned to school to receive my Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Baptist University. Years later, I began my nonprofit ministry with a focus on international missions, wrote two books, published weekly devotionals, and looked for ways to serve others.

In 2015, I left my job at the community college to enter ministry full-time, but life had other plans. After dealing with an illness that left me mostly immobile, the death of my father, and several surgeries, I decided to rely on my grant writing skills to stay afloat financially. This time, I was a reluctant entrepreneur. But when I kept encountering small to midsize nonprofits that struggled financially to do good work, I knew that my business was finally merging with my passion and ministry. So, from there, Rischer Consulting started. I intentionally focus on helping those nonprofits or small businesses, often with limited resources, navigate the world of funding in Dallas. We help them set-up an infrastructure to successfully handle grants they are awarded and put systems in place that help with data management. Our focus is on helping those in K-12 Education, faith-based organizations, or in the sphere of workforce development.

I also started a socio–enterprise business, the Power of One, dedicated to helping the artisans and craftsmen that I have met during my mission trips around the world, specifically in The Gambia, West Africa. Currently, we are working with an artisan, who makes beautiful leather bags and purses, to help him grow his business on a global scale through business coaching, and at least seventy-five percent of the proceeds go directly to him.

My consulting firm recently expanded to executive coaching and training with a couple of government contracts we have secured. Additionally, we now have a client in Los Angeles whom we are working with to develop initiatives with workforce development and those who experience homelessness.

When I look at where I am today, in this place, I see how two paths once parallel are converging — every job and experience I have ever had plays into where I am now. I use my network, my skill set, my talents, and my gifts every day in my businesses. I am not living the life I dreamed as a child, but I am living a life I have been blessed to bring to fruition. I was born for entrepreneurship. Right now. Here.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has not been smooth. Being a business owner requires you to have nerves of steel and ice in your veins. My mentor recently told me there is a difference between signing the front of the check from the back of the check. This anecdotal quote is a true statement. I had days where I worried about client acquisition, paying bills, and paying my contractors because someone was late paying me, figuring out how to wear all hats in the business, and doing multiple things for multiple clients.

I had to learn my limitations because I tend to do a lot and juggle a lot. I function at a higher pace. However, that caught up with me more than a few times health-wise even before I became an entrepreneur, so I forced myself to learn what balance looks like for me. This year, I started practicing the Sabbath and don’t work on Sundays. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and it took weeks for me to get used to not opening my computer on Sunday evenings to catch up on the week. In my business, we live by deadlines, and it is easy to find yourself writing a proposal at 2 a.m. or working on Saturdays. But I work smarter by planning ahead of time and give my clients deadlines that empower me to do my best for them. That is why Sundays are sacred to my mental health; they are a weekly gift to myself that I deserve and allow me to fully connect to my faith and God.

What should we know about Rischer Consulting and The Power of One? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have an extensive background working with small to midsize businesses and organizations in public and private sectors with an emphasis on the education and workforce development sectors. During my tenure as Director of a workforce development program, and while working at Mountain View College, I worked extensively with major corporations and the Texas Workforce Commission to develop training programs that would stimulate economic and workforce growth. I also served with the Department of Education as an Upward Bound/TRIO Grant reviewer, allowing me a glimpse into the approval process of federal awards.

This year, I published online courses for grant writing geared towards small to midsize organizations. Often, people may not be able to afford our rates, but this is a way that they can learn how to find funders and write award-winning proposals affordably.

I hope that my clients and everyone that I worked with recognize I operate from a place of compassion and integrity. Additionally, I firmly believe there is a difference between the ability to lead and the ability to manage. One inspires people to follow, and one gets people to work. Some excellent leaders are horrible managers, and some great managers lack the skill to lead. I embody both (or so I have been told). Those are the key things I believe sets my firm and me apart from others.

I also am passionate about domestic and international missions. I have had the pleasure of serving in 5 countries (planning seven mission trips total) thus far with short-term missions and have taught women empowerment classes, entrepreneurship classes, and organized medical clinics through these endeavors. During my mission trips, the seed for my socio-enterprise business, The Power of One was born. I wanted to do something long term and sustainable to help the communities in which I have served.

On a personal level, I am most known for two things. I am a strategic connector; I believe in connecting people to resources, other people, opportunities, and etcetera in a thoughtful manner. And I am a helper. If I see a need or become aware of a need, I believe that is my invitation to get involved. That is why I work with nonprofits. As one person, I can only help so many. But by helping nonprofits fulfill their mission to help others in whatever capacity they do, my footprint expands, and I can help more people than I will ever meet.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
The advice I would give other women would be to take care of yourself, even if you are your business, and everything falls on you to handle. If you are not emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy, your work and your business will suffer in addition to you. You have to learn to create balance in your life and with your family.

Secondly, as you have read in my story, I have always been a risk-taker. Even when I have been fearful of leaving a job, I left if I felt my job was complete or it no longer suited my vision. I still believe that the next opportunity is around the corner, and it has been. So, take the risk, Sis! Take a smart risk!

Third, never stay anywhere because of money, never accept a client because of money, and never make a decision solely because of money. If you are bound by money, you are operating from a place of lack and not necessarily making the best decision. The money will come to you; however, peace of mind is harder to gain and keep.

Lastly, find a mentor or coach. I never formally asked anyone to coach me until this year, when I realized it was time for me to scale and grow my business. However, before then, I always had informal mentors. I cultivate relationships, so most of my bosses became my mentors. They saw that I wanted to grow, and I was dependable and responsible, so they helped me grow by giving me new responsibilities. I can call them to this day for advice or a reference. Relationships matter. And note, your mentor/coach does not have to work in the same field as you or even be traditional in scope. It is more so about that person’s life and work experience and what you can learn from them. My current mentor was recommended to me by a friend of mine, as well. So, use your network to find the best match.

Additionally, I mentor others. I have always poured into other young women and men who reported to me, or whom I informally worked. Mentoring/Coaching is integral, and you have to do both; be coached and coach others, if you want to be successful.

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Image Credit:
Cheryl Rischer, Jennifer Thompson, Portrait Haus

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