Castell J.R. Barnes of GRTR Management Talks Branding and More

Castell J.R. Barnes, co-founder, GRTR Management

According to the online post Consulting 4.0: The Future of Consulting or Just a Trend, “For decades, the fundamental business model of the management consulting industry has revolved around sending smart people into client organizations, in order to solve their most prevalent challenges and problems. Whether it involved the definition of a new strategy, cost cutting programs or the implementation of new technologies, the consulting industry always had the right recipe at hand for their clients. High double-digit growth rates became the norm.” 

Then the financial crisis of 2008 put many noteworthy consulting firms, such as Roland Berger, A.T. Kearney, Booz, Allen Hamilton and Monitor, on shaky ground. Companies were left worrying about declining revenue growth, fierce competition and market consolidation. 

But today, the management consulting services market is on the upswing, and is expected to hit $343.52 billion by 2025, as reported by Adroit Market Research. 

With trendy firms popping up everywhere consulting clients on everything from beauty to finance, I caught up with Castell J.R. Barnes, co-founder of GRTR Management, a management consulting agency that specializes in branding services and names LinkedIn, The Brooklyn Nets, Secret Deodorant and Sonesta Hotels as their clients.  

Here, Barnes talks to about GRTR, and offers a few pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. What compelled you to start your own management consulting agency?

Barnes: My partner and I saw a need in the market for diverse, transparent, and relatable content development, speakers, and funding vehicles. We were also running our separate Image Consulting and Entertainment companies. So, we made the decision to combine our visions and over two decades of business experience. What products or services does GRTR Management offer?

Barnes: Aside from our books and motivational speaking audios, GRTR Management offers branding, speaking and investing services. These services include content creation, digital marketing, image consulting, lifestyle photography, keynote speeches, educational workshops, panel discussions, and hosting & interviews. What is the key to strong branding and messaging? How important is branding to a company looking to be successful?

Barnes: The key to strong branding and messaging is to have a clear understanding of the problem that you are solving for your target market. This allows a business to tailor their marketing accordingly. The worst thing that can happen to a business, especially in its early years is that it is selling to a group of people who have no interest in what is being offered. It is a waste of time, energy and money. Just like the logistics of a business, branding is everything. Tell me about a branding project you’ve worked on for one of the clients you mentioned. What approach did you take that made the project a success?

Barnes: We were contracted to create branding content for LinkedIn’s #InItTogether campaign. We took a different approach by writing a treatment and directing, shooting and editing a 1-minute informercial that was centered around me as the growing entrepreneur. Not only did it over perform engagement-wise, but it introduced a non-conventional, black storyteller. There are so many interesting avenues for aspiring entrepreneurs to explore. What advice do you have for someone who knows they want to be in business for themselves but can’t quite pin down one thing to pursue?

Barnes: Before anything, I advise aspiring entrepreneurs to save at least 6-months to one-year of funds for their living expenses. Secondly, make a financial investment in a skillset that you are passionate about that has the ability to be monetized. In today’s digital world, you have the means to make money off of your passions. It will require a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but you can make it happen. Also, find a mentor or support group, read or listen to books and podcasts on business, marketing and spiritually, and don’t be afraid to fall on your face a few times. Failure is okay. Keep in mind that the “first step is the first step.” What about your work do you love the most?

Barnes: Fulfilling our branding clients’ expectations, but even better, I love the impact that we have on our speaking clients. From the students and teachers to corporate workers and creative entrepreneurs, the testimonies we get makes it all worth it. What is the most challenging aspect of being in business for yourself?

Barnes: The tradeoff of never being able to spread all the time in the world with my love ones. What’s the best way to get startup money to launch a business these days?

Barnes: There isn’t one way. I would have to sum it up to crowdfunding, pitch competitions, having a 9-to-5 job to fund your business, and networking in spaces where investors are. What are the books you’ve authored?

Barnes: I’ve had the pleasure of authoring three books: ‘GUIDANCE: 33 Areas of Importance,’ ‘Dinner Plates As Pot Covers: A Poetic Story of Improvising Love & Prosperity’ and most recently, ‘SLOTH 30: The Makings of An Early Bird, Night Owl.’ They are all available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. What topics do you speak on?

Barnes: My main speaking topic is practical entrepreneurship, followed by personal development. I’ve also spoke on education reform and mental health. Are there any short to long term goals you’re working on for GRTR?

Barnes: In regards to short-term goals, we look to not only continue to serve our current clients, but obtain 20 new small to corporate-sized business clients. As far as our long-term goals that may stretch past 7 to 10 years, we at GRTR look to grow our core team, expand our reach in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, as well as maximize our philanthropic efforts to make change within the political, economic, educational and entrepreneurial spaces. This would involve a reform to inner-city schools’ teaching curriculums, creating means for adult and children financial literary and empowerment programs, and making sure that the right officials are funded and elected.