Libby Jacobs said she is enjoying the variety of work she is doing with her new business; she leases space from her husband&rsquo;s firm, BCC Advisers. Photo by Duane Tinkey<br />
Libby Jacobs said she is enjoying the variety of work she is doing with her new business; she leases space from her husband’s firm, BCC Advisers. Photo by Duane Tinkey

It didn’t take long for Libby Jacobs’ cell phone to start ringing after she lost her job in a corporate downsizing. She was among about 1,000 Principal Financial Group Inc. employees whose positions were eliminated in June 2009.

“That summer, I started to get calls from nonprofit execs, (saying), ‘Libby, can we hire you as a consultant to help us?’” said Jacobs, former community relations director for Principal. “After the third call, I could see there was kind of a pattern developing; maybe I should set up a consulting business.”

Jacobs, who holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Drake University, represented West Des Moines for seven terms in the Iowa House of Representatives. She was the majority whip for seven years before leaving the Legislature in 2008. Among her current volunteer activities, she serves on the Drake University Board of Trustees, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines Grantmaking Committee and the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau board.

Her consulting clients include both nonprofit and for-profit organizations, locally as well as statewide. She has assisted nonprofits with strategic planning and fund development strategies as well as grant writing and board development. “On the for-profit side, it’s been more community relations and some media relations.”

Jacobs said she has acquired about a dozen clients through word of mouth. “I’m probably breaking every marketing rule that I tell everyone else to do,” she said. “I don’t have a website; basically my cell phone and my e-mail are the best way to contact me.”

Because her husband, Steve Jacobs, as well as many of her friends are experienced consultants, she hasn’t had to “reinvent the wheel” in structuring her business, she said.

Now that she has the first year under her belt, “I hope that it will continue to grow,” she said, ideally through collaborations. “I could see some strategic alliances being formed with others either in the consulting business or that are in businesses that would use some of the skills I would bring.”