Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrea Mitchell, Founder and Director of EmployAbility: Employment and Housing Solutions, located in Madison, WI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a small social services agency that helps people with employment, housing, and skill development. We work primarily with people with significant mental health concerns that impact their ability to be independent.

Tell us about yourself

I've worked in social services for more than 20 years and have worked with a wide variety of specialty areas. I developed a fondness for vocational rehabilitation about 10 years ago after seeing how employment can have a tremendous impact on a person's recovery. I was in a position to start my own business while in grad school because I had gone down to part-time at my job at a women's shelter. I never intended to ever hire anyone or do more than meet a few clients at libraries. Now we are growing and growing, and I feel that my biggest motivator right now is to create a work environment that fosters healthy social workers. I'm hoping to create a work culture that promotes self-care and healthy boundaries in an effort to prevent burnout and keep amazing social workers from leaving the field.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Recruiting and retaining some of the best social workers in the business. I can never express enough how much I have been impacted by the incredible compassion, dedication, and perseverance of the people that have worked at EmployAbility over the years.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The most difficult thing is always going to be the worry about money. We are not grant-funded, and there are so many variables that impact how much we earn every month. I would love to have a consistent income so that I can afford to pay the staff what they are worth.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have good boundaries and prioritize life outside of the business. It's easy for your business to take up every waking moment of your life.
  2. Make sure your staff knows that they are valued. Happy staff does good work because they care about the business.
  3. Be ok with dissatisfied customers. Bending over backward to make everyone happy just ends up making you spread yourself too thin. Do the thing that you do well, and the people who like that thing will be happy. The people that want more can go somewhere else.

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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