Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

A Moment with our EDTP Graduate- Meet Andrea Riley

Posted on 9/26/2019 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News
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Andrea Riley is the owner and operator of The Marriage Service Technicians (MST), which offers training, coaching, counseling and mentoring services and resources for marriages and families. She is also a graduate of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program. We had a chance to sit down with Andrea to ask about her experience with entrepreneurship and LAEDA's training program.

(1) LAEDA: Entrepreneurship is a very challenging path to take with many different possible directions. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?


Entrepreneurship is in my DNA. My family tree is full of business owners from a wide range of industries. We’ve owned and operated businesses ranging from a food truck, landscaping service, tailoring shop, chauffeuring service, chain link fencing installation, daycare center, private academy, catering hall, residential and commercial real estate, rental properties, grocery delivery service, teleprompter rental, wedding photography and videography. My parents owned a record shop. And the legacy continues with my daughter, Destiny, who has a photography business and creates music videos.

I was raised with a strong work ethic and was encouraged to think outside-the-box to find ways of earning extra money. My very first business endeavor - a lemonade stand – segued into selling candy, babysitting, cleaning houses, doing laundry, braiding hair, making gift baskets, and tutoring, to name a few.

After marrying and having children, my priorities began to shift. The hustle and bustle of a 9-5 job became less and less appealing. My workday was about 12 hours long, factoring in the commute. This left very little time (or energy) for my infant and toddler. I wanted the flexibility of spending quality time with my kids, while being able to contribute to the ever-increasing expenses of raising a family.

Right around that time, my job shut down and I was laid off. While many of my co-workers were gripped with fear and uncertainty – I was hopeful and optimistic. I seized this as an opportunity to utilize my organizing, administrative, and event planning skills to generate income working from home. This newfound freedom empowered me to become more hands-on as a parent and less stressed as a wife. And it freed up time for me to write and produce plays; launch a dance troupe; and co-lead a marriage ministry.

Throughout the next 20 years, situations have warranted my return to the workforce for brief periods; but I’ve always known that I’d return to my favorite boss…ME!


(2) LAEDA: Why did you choose your industry?

My husband and I have a passion for marriages and families that was birthed out the struggles we faced during the early years of our relationship - including our blended family challenges. We survived the dark times, and our relationship eventually began to grow and prosper. We were asked to head the marriage department of a large church. This was when we realized four key things:

1) We love teaching, training, and mentoring others;
2) People respond to openness, honesty and vulnerability;
3) We possess a unique gift that can help transform lives; and
4) We find purpose in our pain as we minister to others.

After 28 years of marriage (20 years in ministry) and “practicing what we preach,” our mission in life is to equip relationships with tools to go the distance!

You ask, “Why did you choose your industry?” It could be said that we didn’t choose this industry as much as this industry chose us.


(3) LAEDA: Tell me about your experience while attending EDTP. What have the major takeaways been from the program? Have you had any “Ah-ha!” moments? How did the program help you?

I entered LAEDA EDTP with great anticipation; however, the program far exceeded my expectations! The staff was enthusiastic, encouraging, and supportive. Each presenter was knowledgeable, relevant and engaging. The range of topics covered was broad, varied and holistic. The class environment was conducive to discovery, inquiry, and growth.

I found the classes to be well planned; the exercises to be very beneficial; and the coursework to be appropriately challenging.

The EDTP program caused me to challenge pre-conceived assumptions by conducting extensive market research. I decided to rewrite our business plan to include all my newly-acquired information. The homework assignments broke down the process (of writing a business plan) into bite-sized pieces.

An “ah-ha” moment took place during a real estate class. The presentation motivated me to expand my vision and redefine our long-range goals to include property ownership.

I finished the program far more confident and equipped to grow our business. And I’ve taken advantage of LAEDA’s continued support. Our revenue has increased by nearly 50%. All limitations have been removed.


(4) LAEDA: Tell me about your journey on the road to business start-up. What have been some of the challenges, successes, failures, etc.?

One of our challenges has been that the business model has evolved a great deal over the years. When my children were young, my goal was to generate enough income for me to be able to work from home – by any means necessary. I had a reputation for excellence and willingness to learn and try new things. If someone was looking for a “widget maker” for example, they’d call to see if I was interested. I needed the funds, so I’d accept the project. And when the clients were thrilled with the “widgets,” I’d get referrals and repeat business. This was great at first; however, my goal was not to become a professional “widget-teer”. Over time, the “widget” projects began swallowing up time, energy, and focus that could have been spent growing another area of the business. I have been learning to be more selective with projects I accept. I cannot allow “what’s good” to become enemy of “what’s best.”


(5) LAEDA: Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?

Our parent company, Clifton & Andrea Riley Enterprises LLC (C.A.R.E.), is comprised of several divisions, including The Marriage Service Technicians (MST), which offers training, coaching, counseling and mentoring services and resources for marriages and families.

We are preparing for the release of our book entitled, The Unique Blend, Strategies for Your Family’s Unique Design. Plans are in the works for a multi-city tour.

The Marriage Service Technicians are hosting several events during the next few months. Activities include Blended Family Workshops; the launching of our Blended Family Support Group; and a Couple’s Game Night. Our next Meet-and-Greet is scheduled for Saturday, October 19; it's a time of fellowship, fun, and finding out how we can best meet other's needs. 

(6) LAEDA: Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?

There are two pieces of advice I’d offer.

First, I would strongly encourage any future or existing entrepreneur to establish a firm foundation for your business by taking advantage of the excellent resources offered by LAEDA. You don’t know what you don’t know, until you finally know it.

Second, I cannot stress how important it is to create a business plan. The process of completing it is just as important as the end product. You will learn a great deal about your business, your industry, and about yourself along the way.

 

Congratulations to Andrea Riley, who has over 20 years of experience in helping families build strong foundations, and equipping them with tools they need to go the distance. We commend you for completing EDTP and recommitting to your journey on the path of entrepreneurship.

For more information, contact Andrea Riley via website at MarriageServiceTechnicians.com, via Facebook at Marriage Service Technicians and/ or via through phone at (609) 326-3329. You can also email at TheRileys@MarriageServiceTechnicians.com.

The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) is a free, nine-week business skills training course offered in Camden, NJ in the Spring and Fall each year. Qualified entrepreneurs receive 72+ hours of training from industry professionals, business planning, and one year of technical assistance. Apply online at www.LAEDA.com.