What’s the origin story of your business?
My name is Thom Coats and I am the Director of the IGA Professional Sales Program at Middle Tennessee State University. I have entrepreneurial instincts and a clear vision that has assisted in the growth of multiple companies and individuals. I have been in sales for about twenty-five plus years. After so many years of sales, I was looking for a retirement job. I was invited to come to speak at MTSU and was interested in a job there because of the students’ energy! In order to obtain the job at MTSU, I had to go back to school to get my MBA and that is exactly what I did. Although I was looking for a part-time job, the full-time job at the university was my calling and I have loved it ever since!
What’s an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome to build your business?
I would say that the growth in the student population in sales was a challenge. The pandemic made it hard to connect with students because I am used to teaching in-person classes. A lot of students don’t know that professional sales classes are offered so it has been a struggle getting that information out there.
What is unique about owning and running a business in Murfreesboro?
There are a lot of things that are unique about owning and running a business in Murfreesboro. The opportunity and environment are stellar! The culture here is amazing and Murfreesboro is always growing. I would also like to point out that the chamber is great and they’re doing great things for Murfreesboro.
As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?
We have amazing things at the center and it is important for us to get that out there so I would say something that keeps me up at night is keeping the student population growth. Like I said in the previous question, it is sometimes difficult to reach students and let them know that we’re here for their needs and can help them along their journey.
If you could wave a magic wand and make one problem go away in your business what would it be?
I would say that one problem I would make go away is the fact that we don’t have a requirement in professional selling for business majors. I believe that it is very important that this is a requirement. Professional selling is super important and there are three things that can set you apart that are taught in these particular classes. The first thing would be showing up, the second thing would be follow-up, and lastly, follow through. These are some of the tips and tricks I teach my students.
If we made a movie telling the story of your business…. What would the title be?
I would title my story “It’s a Wonderful Life” because if a student knows how to sell it would give them opportunities. If I can help them, It would be a Wonderful Life!
What time of the day are you most productive?
I am most productive in the morning. I go to sleep around 9 p.m and wake up at 4 a.m. to start the day. This has been working for me for a while now.
What’s one thing you’d say to a person starting a new business?
If I had to give any advice I would say be committed to excellence and the process. I have seen many of my family members in business and see how committed they are. That would be the advice that I would give.
What’s one thing you’d say to a person who’d owned a business for a long time?
I believe that it is super important to be a mentor if you have the knowledge. It’s always a great thing to share tribal knowledge because you never know who you can help out and what they can become.
Learn more about Thom Coats by visiting the MTSU website!