Eric Feldman, CFE
President, Core Integrity Group
Redondo Beach, Calif.
When Eric Feldman, CFE, decided to retire from the federal government and begin his own ethics and compliance consulting firm, Core Integrity Group, in 2010, his son, Josh, said, “Dad, you gotta get on LinkedIn.” Josh, 26, is the chief of technology for an Internet media company in Beverly Hills, Calif. A self-proclaimed “technophobe,” Feldman cautiously created a user account listing his past work experience, his contact information and his new company’s website. After testing the social waters, he decided to take the plunge and extend invitations to connect with other known professionals, joined several relevant discussion groups and even began to prospect for new clients. Social media is one of the many ways Feldman is working to make his transition from federal employee to business owner a smooth one.
How did you know that making the move to self-employment was the right one?
I had 32 years of federal service. I had a choice. I am too young to not work. I could both get a new job and work for another company, trading one 80 hour a week job for another, or I could forge my own path and make my own destiny. I wanted to be my own boss, to choose the kind of work and engagement that excites me. You have to have a passion for this kind of work. The most successful CFEs are the ones who have a passion for the work. My passion over the last few years has developed in the area of how we can get businesses to better self police and make ethical decisions. Federal law enforcement is only part of the answer. In spite of all the enforcement and all the prosecutions, people are still going to make bad decisions. They are still going to be driven by personal finances or anger, and they will rationalize it. I help businesses maintain a competitive advantage by being ethical and having the right procedures and programs in place.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes made when starting your own business?
One thing I have learned is that a lack of confidence in yourself is your greatest enemy. People coming out of jobs where they have gotten biweekly paychecks question their value at first. They wonder, “Will people really pay me?” Because of that lack of confidence, you tend to undervalue your services. I have come up with pricing and presented it to people and they told me I was crazy. It is important to remember that when you are marketing to companies, you are not selling an hourly service. You are selling them value and a project/package. For example, I might be selling an ethics and compliance program versus asking them to pay me $200 an hour; that cheapens what you are offering. You have to provide value, especially at a time when they are competing for other resources.
Read the full interview with Eric in the Career Center on ACFE.com.