Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Aiko Hemingway, Founder of Aiko Hemingway Coaching, located in Honolulu, HI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am providing business/mindset coaching. I help coaches reach 6 figures with a small list, narrow niche, and high ticket offers. My clients are mostly English coaches, English pronunciation coaches, Japanese pronunciation coaches, and French pronunciation coaches of different ages, both women and men.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Japan and came to the United States at the age of 23. I did not speak English back then. I tried out so many different methods to learn English, and learning pronunciation was the most effective way for me. I had a passion for teaching other Japanese how to learn English pronunciation, but I am an introvert, and I was scared of showing up. But things changed in 2014. My husband started having a hard time finding his job. All of a sudden, I needed to make money. I did not have any business skills but I decided to jump into the entrepreneur world. I started my English pronunciation coaching business for Japanese celebrities and executives in January 2016, desperate to make money and passionate about teaching pronunciation. I could not find a single client for the first 14 months. But when my husband injured his back in the summer of 2016, and we both realized that anything could happen at any time, I decided to change. I joined Toastmasters to practice public speaking and took business coaching with the money that I did not have. I used my credit card and had a clear deadline to pay it off. I started showing up on YouTube, and FB lives. Answered people's questions and mentioned my paid offers. I started having clients, reaching 6 figures in 2020 with a tiny list of 150 people, a narrow niche, and high ticket offers. In 2016, reaching 6 figures was my big dream, but now I have bigger dreams to achieve, and I wake up in the morning excited to get closer to them every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I was scared of just speaking in a group of more than 3 people in the past. But I kept challenging myself to go higher and higher in Toastmasters. I served as a Division Director in Hawaii District and was chosen as the Division Director of the Year 2020-2021. I learned so much from experience, and I am applying everything I learned to my business.
In 2021, I reached $240k with tiny lists of 150 people and high ticket offers of $10k and up from my English pronunciation coaching business. And I helped two coach friends reach 6 figures last year too! The biggest accomplishment is the fulfilling feeling of expanding myself and others at the same time. I am giving a positive impact on people around me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
SO MANY HARD THINGS. Entrepreneurship comes with a whole bunch of ups and downs altogether. I totally understand why 80% of people who start entrepreneurship quit within 5 years. But when we face ups, that's when we grow. The hard things happen for us to thrive. When you change your view that way, the hardest things will become blessings. For me, one of the hardest things was the moment I saw that our bank account went down to $500. We did not have enough money to pay rent next month. My income was unstable, and I found a temp job. From that experience, though, I decided to make enough money from my coaching business, so I did not have to find a temp job anymore.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Focus on how you can serve people now instead of focusing on having a big following. Your business purpose is to serve people and solve their problems, not to have a big following. I mean, if you can have both income and a big following, that's great. But having a big following does not mean those people are making a big income. I focused on serving, and that's how I reached 6 figures with an email list of only 150 people. My current following is so small, but that's all I need to make above $10k a month easily.
- Hire a coach. If you don't have the mindset to pay someone to guide you, that won't work. You want to ask people to pay you to help solve their problems, but if you don't do the same for yourself, you see that it does not make sense, right? First, experience as a customer. I did not find a single client for 14 months because I did not have the mindset to hire a coach. But as soon as I hired a coach, I found my first client!
- Create a supportive environment, and have successful people around you. I am in different business groups with successful people; my clients are celebrities and executives. They think BIG! I often realize that I think small, and yes, being surrounded by successful people opens up my world and possibilities.
- I have one more tip. Position yourself as a premium provider. In my experience of raising my fees from $40 an hour to $1000 an hour in 5 years, I saw how my clientele changed. I realized that the higher I charged, the more motivated clients I got. My current clients, because I charge $1000 an hour, make my coaching the highest priority in their daily activities. They get the ideal results because they do the work and practice. When I was charging lower than $300 an hour, my clients did not do the work, and I was so frustrated. To make your life easy, become a premium provider in your field.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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