Kent Bonacki is currently a grant writer for the Park City School District (PCSD) with over a decade of experience as a technical writer and three years’ experience as a project manager. Kent’s background consists of working in the education, medical device, mining, financial, and aerospace industries which have diversified his skills and knowledge base, and illustrated his ability to focus on the industry’s needs. A strong believer in a positive attitude and good mental health, Kent espouses these characteristics in the office as well as in his private life skiing, hiking, or running in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. After a long day of working or skiing, Kent enjoys testing out the newest breweries with friends or watching his favorite sports team lose.
How did you get started in this business?
Curiosity, I think. I was recently in the medical device industry for nearly five years, and I felt that I needed a change of pace from the analytical, supply-chain centric medical device industry. Being involved in the education industry, even if from the periphery, allows me to affect positive change on the community by improving education standards and increasing access for all. This may be a rather quick stop in the education industry, but I am always willing to learn new things with new people to increase my own knowledge base and diversify my skills.
How do you make money?
Primarily by writing. I have a Master’s degree in technical writing and I have been doing it for over a decade now. It may have its practical limitations as a long-term career in some senses, but it always gives me options as I can easily change up what I am writing about, or for whom I am writing, or even why I write about a particular topic. I always have something to say, for better or worse, and writing has always given me the outlet to express myself.
How long did it take for you to become profitable when you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
It did not take as long as I thought to become profitable but that is because I wrote, and still write, a lot. I never doubted that it would not work out, I love writing and with how many potential topics there are in the world, there would always be something available for me to write about.
How did you get your first customer?
I got my first customer through hard work and determination. It took many attempts to get my first customer, but I did not let rejections deter me. Rather, they pushed me to work harder knowing that a breakthrough would eventually happen if I kept working hard.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One marketing strategy that I use to generate new business is to think all the different approaches I can take to writing a topic. There are many sides of a story and looking through different lenses at the same story can create a lot of new content.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Asking for help to complete a recent project. Due to the nature of my work, I deal with deadlines every day but I am in a mostly autonomous position to complete my work so I feel a great deal of ownership with my work. I was having a difficult time completing a grant I was writing, and at this particular time some things in my private life were giving me issues. I take great pride in the work I do and I wanted to plow through and complete this grant, but I knew the quality would suffer and I would just create even more problems. I set my pride aside and asked for help from a co-worker on short notice. I felt embarrassed to ask for help and to put my co-worker in a less-than-ideal position, but she was more than happy to help which almost instantly washed away my anxiety about how to handle this situation. It was a learning moment for me.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Attitude. I have found that this is a consistent attribute with both successful and unsuccessful people. It is not enough to simply walk into the office, do the minimum amount of work while floating through the day, then go home and repeat four more times. It is so important to find something that you can claim ownership of, something you can connect your sense of accomplishment to so you can witness progress and feel pride once it is finished. Not every day will be great, but consistently focusing on a positive attitude will result in a higher quality of life.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
It wasn’t any singular moment, but my favorite moments are always witnessing someone struggle with finding a solution, working their way through the problem, then finally figuring out a solution. I managed several projects while at BioFire Diagnostics that had these little moments in them from developers, other managers, and even executives. It is a satisfying feeling to see a project come to fruition largely in part due to the findings and solutions of your teammates.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I’m not sure about my business necessarily, but I am extremely excited for the future. I am at the juncture in my life where my skills and experience are starting to build up which affords me greater opportunity and responsibility. I have experienced enough success to understand what is required for positive outcomes, but I have also experienced enough failure to contextualize what happened and pull the requisite lessons from that experience to ensure the same chain of events does not happen again. Failure is a natural occurring thing in life, and we cannot be afraid of admitting when it happens. As long as the proper lessons are learned from failure, it can be a maturing experience.
What business books have inspired you?
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. This book taught me that it is a fool’s errand to attempt to be as successful as the extreme outliers we know in business, sports, economics, science, and many other disciplines. Gladwell accepts the idea that people can become experts with just practice alone, outlined by his 10,000 hours of practice rule to become exceptional at something, but he does suggest that extreme outliers who some may strive to emulate, like Bill Gates for instance, became highly successful due to factors outside of their control. Keeping with the Bill Gates example, Gladwell suggests I should strive to be successful like Bill Gates, and not as successful as Bill Gates because my circumstances are completely different from those that allowed him to thrive. Understand your limitations, but always strive to better yourself.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t concern yourself too much with how you are perceived by those around you. This is your life. Do what you need to do, do what you want to do, but enjoy yourself along the way and remember to take time for self-reflection.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Not at this current time.