People often ask Amy Wasser if she has a business plan.
Her answer, she says, is that people can get so consumed with the idea of the business they may never actually launch the business.
But she does have a vision. Wasser’s new company, Strategic Vision Consulting, has bold and well-defined goals: “My goal is to help small businesses and nonprofits really maximize their potential,” she says.
That means she will help them assess where they are today, make strategic assessments of where they want to be, and then help them get there.
“I’ll really be examining their entire business, whether it’s their staffing, their vision, their marketing strategies,” she says. “The whole nine yards, so to speak.”
Wasser knows of which she speaks. For 18 years, she worked at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle as its vice president for planning and community services, which meant she served as the go-to person for matters regarding funding, capital planning, and organizational structure for the Puget Sound region’s Jewish community. Her tenure and breadth of contacts gave Wasser, probably more than anyone today, an encyclopedic knowledge of the area’s Jewish community.
It’s not the encyclopedia Wasser takes with her to Strategic Vision, however. It’s the methodology of how she got there.
“What I’ve learned over my years working is that I have this…unique ability to really quickly assess the situation and to understand early on in the process what’s really happening, and to think strategically with a group of people about how they can move things forward in a constructive way,” she says.
Her plan is to work with small or medium-sized businesses or nonprofits who know they need someone to help them see the forest while they’re mired in the day-to-day business of minding the trees, then stick alongside them to make sure they reach their goals.
“I think that the only way for them to actually achieve success is to have somebody who is helping them on a regular basis,” she says.
What’s crucial, as she has seen from her 30 years of working with Jewish organizations of all sizes, is that businesses have to be willing to move forward.
“Sometimes that change can be scary, and it can be significant,” she says. “If you have one person that wants to see change, they have to clearly articulate why that change needs to take place, what’s the value and benefit, how things are going to improve, how things are going to be different with that change. To be able to tell that in a way that galvanizes the staff to moving forward with that change is really critical — that’s a place where I can come in.”
By the time Wasser was recruited by former Federation CEO Michael Novick, she had already led a small Jewish Federation in Western Massachusetts, maintained a $6 million fund in Minneapolis, and run the young leadership division of the very large Jewish Federation of MetroWest New Jersey — all by the time she was 30 years old. But it prepared her for the job that defined much of her life for nearly two decades.
Wasser “served with great distinction during my tenure as Federation CEO, as Planning and Allocations Director,” Novick told JTNews via email. “Amy has always been honest, forthright, thoughtful and visionary. I’m sure she’ll bring the same values to her clients.”
Wasser’s husband Chuck passed away suddenly six years ago, which left her with the daunting task of raising their three children while juggling the demands of her job. She had plenty of help, but she says one of the reasons she is able to take on starting her own business is that her kids, now between 11 and 17 years old, are older.
“I have more freedom and flexibility,” she says.
Ultimately, Wasser hopes to build a practice based on more than a recommendation and a quick exit. The relationships her company creates, she hopes, will be ongoing and long-lasting.
“Every business has something that I can offer them,” she says, “and I can learn from them, too.”