After spending 35 years working for the City of Philadelphia, Pat O’Donnell knows the ins and outs of the permitting process.
So much so, that after retiring in January, O’Donnell and his wife, Terri, launched their own consulting business aimed at helping developers with site-plan reviews and the land development process, among other services.
Even with a slow period amid the pandemic, O’Donnell Alliance is assisting 15 to 20 clients throughout the Delaware Valley, according to Pat.
“It was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t even know if it would take off,” Pat said of starting the business. “There’s not many people who are out there doing this kind of work.”
Starting a niche business has worked to their benefit.
“His phone continued to ring with people seeking his advice,” Terri said.
“The consulting business really started as a whim.”
But, even skilled consultants need someone to consult. The O’Donnells sought help creating a mission statement, drafting a business plan and learning about loans for their new business. During a Small Business Administration event, the couple learned of SCORE Bucks County.
SCORE Bucks County certified mentors Steve Wolfson and Rob Purdy helped guide the couple through the early stages and continue to provide guidance. Wolfson has 40 years of experience in wholesale distribution, while Purdy spent nearly 40 years working in the insurance and financial sectors.
Together the mentors create post-mentoring session assignments to keep the O’Donnells accountable – and learning more in the process.
“There’s much more to owning a business than the glamour of it,” Terri said. “That’s what SCORE has taught us.”
Pat added, “They give you real-life experience because they’ve had their own business or they’re in business themselves.”
Wolfson said he and Purdy will continue mentoring the couple through the end of the year. After only a few short months, Wolfson has seen the new entrepreneurs accomplish so much.
“Pat is taking his previous work experience, many customer contacts and knowledge of getting things done through the city system and building a consulting business that will help large construction companies complete their project safely,” Wolfson said. “Terri’s background in administration, insurance and management will support all aspects of the business. They both have a great attitude and work with our recommendations and learn from our management backgrounds.”