Cristiana Quinn, College Admission Advisors, LLC

Cristiana Quinn’s family and friends felt fortunate to have access to her expertise as they navigated the college application process.  Her previous background working in college admissions, coupled with a Masters in Education, and proven business savvy, made her an invaluable resource.  When encouraged to create a business around this talent, she acknowledged the praise, but wasn’t ready to take the leap of starting her own business.  Quinn was pursuing a career in the high-tech industry and traveling the world.

A casualty of corporate downsizing in 2005, Cristiana she met with a headhunter who told her that her next move in the corporate world would be her last. After that, she would be “too old” to be attractive to high-tech companies.  Quinn considered this a wake-up call, and decided it was time to start charting a future and career that she could control, free of mergers, acquisitions and instability, and that would have longevity.

She put together a business plan and completed an add-on graduate program in College Admissions Counseling from UCLA to complement her Masters in Education, and slowly began implementing her marketing campaign and building her client base.  Cristiana launched College Admissions Advisors, LLC in a part-time capacity in 2005, expanding to full-time two years later.  The company helps students understand the admissions process, find colleges that are the right fit, and then maximize their potential for acceptance with strategic guidance on course selection, essays, applications, interviewing and other admissions components.  The company also handles college sports recruiting, SAT/ACT prep, subject tutoring and more.

Growth has been steady and impressive.  Starting out with a dozen clients in year one, today College Admission Advisors, LLC serves about 80 families – with students ranging from 9th to 12th grades.  The company’s revenue growth rate in 2010 was about a 50% increase from the previous year, and 2011 realized a 35% increase over 2010’s numbers.  The additional offerings of SAT/ACT prep and subject tutoring helped expand the business.

The startup-related challenges Quinn encountered have evolved over time. “In the first couple of years, I had to cut way back on my lifestyle and pinch every penny. Now my biggest challenge is managing growth and starting to relinquish control of some of the administrative and marketing aspects of the company so that I can devote my time just to client interaction.” College Admission Advisors now employs between six and eight contract part-time staff members for SAT/ACT and subject tutoring as well as marketing and administrative tasks.

Cristiana easily identifies the most rewarding aspect of her job:  receiving the phone call from a student screaming with joy that they got into the school of their choice, knowing that Cristiana’s services made all the difference.  From parents, she hears that having her on board for the college application process helps alleviate a lot of stress. Teens tend to be resistant to a parents’ advice, but they will listen to an outside expert.

When asked the best advice she could give to a small business owner starting out, Quinn says, “Create a business plan, figure out your living budget and what you need to cut, and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. Tip O’Neill used to say, ‘All politics is local’. I would tell you that likewise all small business is personal. Care about every customer and deliver the best product or service around, and within a year, you will start to see referrals and your business grow.”

Cristiana Quinn’s success is a result of diligence and education combined with a natural gift. She created a space where she could put her skills to use, crafting a new career that was a huge departure from the corporate world.  Heeding the advice from her family and friends, Cristiana now has an exciting plan that offers a rewarding and promising future.

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