Take Your First Step Toward Being Your Own Boss

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Starting her own business was not Lyla Grandstaff’s first leap of faith.

A native of Rivesville, Lyla attended Fairmont State in the fall of 1980. “I wasn’t sure of a major and was working part-time. I was offered a full-time position and quit school,” she says.

Even though she was working, she says she wasn’t able to advance because she didn’t have a college degree.

“I decided to go back to Fairmont State. I started taking classes in the Weekend College program (now offered through FSU’s sister institution, Pierpont Community & Technical College) because I had two young children and a husband who was working shift work. Saturdays were my time to work toward the degree I always wanted. I loved it!” Lyla says.

After taking classes on the weekends and at night, Lyla finished her Bachelor of Science degree in General Business in the spring of 2003.

“Take the first step,” she advises adult students considering returning to college. “You won’t regret going back to school, but you may someday regret the time you wasted getting started.”

After graduation, Lyla joined the campus community and worked in various capacities for FSU and Pierpont, even serving as an admissions recruiter for other adult students. Over the next few years, Lyla completed a master’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications at West Virginia University while she worked full time.

She discovered a passion for the study of etiquette and earned a certification in Business, Social and Children’s Etiquette from the Etiquette Institute of St. Louis, Mo. Today she is a lifetime member of the Etiquette Institute and a member of Toastmasters International. She still maintains her connection to the campus community as an adjunct faculty member at Pierpont.

With the goal of educating others on proper etiquette, Lyla decided to feed her entrepreneurial spirit and open her own business. “Attending Fairmont State and then working on campus gave me the experience and confidence necessary to take a leap of faith and, for the first time, be my own boss,” she says.

Lyla is the proud owner of Elements of Etiquette, a full-service training and consulting business that teaches the fundamentals of etiquette, protocol, ethics and decorum to business leaders, business professionals, aspiring students and others looking to get ahead and stay ahead in the business world. For the past two years, she has served as the keynote speaker for the FSU School of Business Etiquette Dinner, an event that helps teach students the skills they need to succeed.

During troubled economic times, securing a job interview can be just as hard, if not harder, than securing the job itself. Unfortunately, all too many candidates decrease their chances of being hired by making poor etiquette choices and even poorer first impressions.

 “During my time in higher education, I was consistently amazed at the choices job candidates made when meeting with an interview committee,” Lyla says. “From the clothes they wore to the level of formality they used when speaking, I realized that many individuals could benefit from basic business etiquette training.”

After speaking with owners in various industries, she realized that candidates are not hired based on which fork they use but on their ability to be themselves and also be professional. Elements of Etiquette helps business professionals realize the small changes they can make to improve their first impressions and business relationships through proper business etiquette.  

“The most important thing I tell my clients is that you have to be yourself. You don’t have to put on airs and you don’t have to be perfect,” Lyla says. “I don’t have to be perfect as a teacher, and you don’t have to be perfect as a job candidate. Interviews don’t end with people talking about what fork you used, they end with people talking about who you are and the way you presented yourself.”

Please share your beFirst story ideas.