Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Aram Arslanian, President, and CEO of Cadence Leadership + Communication, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is developing leaders and culture. Our customers are professionals and teams willing to take on the challenge of growth. When I say "growth," I don't mean it as a destination. Instead, as a continued quest to keep learning about yourself, others, and the environment you're in to keep evolving. I hope readers would want to support Cadence for a few reasons: Firstly, we're great at what we do, we get results, and we care. The second is because we're not corny. I often find myself cringing at professional development content. We've decided not to chase trends, stay true to our approach, and be real people rather than content generators.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a therapist by training, and I also grew up playing in punk bands and touring the world. It's an odd combination in the corporate world, and I think it's part of why we've been successful. To give you the background, I worked for a decade in Vancouver's not-for-profit sector as a therapist, focusing on addiction and mental health. At the same time, I was playing in bands, writing records, and touring worldwide. After ten years, I was ready for a change, and after a chance meeting, while walking my dog, I was invited to interview to become an executive coach. I worked at another coaching firm for about five years and eventually decided to start my own firm. It was terrifying taking the leap and doing my own thing, and I knew it was the right move. Every day I'm very thankful I took this path.
What motivates me is the success of our clients and the team. I love seeing people be successful just in general; I love hearing about people achieving their goals. That gets to be my job every day, so I consider myself lucky. I'm also motivated by the complexity of our work, growing a team and a business. I view everything through the lens of a therapist and punk, so I'm primed to understand the world around me and to help make changes. As I mentioned, what we do is complex, and the dynamics between people and their workplace are nuanced, so I'm constantly observing, questioning, and learning. The same goes with growing a business, it's a very wild ride that can be both predictable and a complete mystery at the same time, so again I'm motivated because adding value, helping people, and making a difference is a core to who I am.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Becoming a destination for talent and a company where people can test the limitations they've been told they have or feared. We've started to attract a lot of attention from established talent in the field, and that's been a very gratifying accomplishment. People want to work here and partner with us, and for me, that's a clear sign we're doing something right. However, even more important than that is having people within the company feel that they can challenge themselves, grow and re-write their story. Most of us have had at least one (if not many) toxic people in our lives that made us feel that we were limited or not good enough. These people could have been parents, friends, partners, coworkers, or bosses making us feel small or incapable. And some of us have done that to ourselves by adopting beliefs that we're hopelessly flawed or undeserving of success. So, we've put a lot of effort into creating a culture where people can test the negative feedback they've had in their lives and really figure out what they're capable of.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Accept that when you're the owner, you have to show up the right way no matter the situation. I have to be "on" because people depend on me every day. That's a blessing in many ways and can be a bit of a curse because there are days when I just want to let my lesser self show up. I'm a person just like anyone else, and I have good days and bad days. But as a business owner, my bad days can't show up on anyone's radar.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First: Know what makes you valuable to your clients. This sounds basic, but I think it's the most important thing that you'll build your business off.
Second: Don't pay too much attention to your competitors at first. Initially, just focus on making your thing the absolute coolest thing you can and pay no attention to what the next shop is doing. In many ways, act like there are no competitors and you're the only game in town. Once you're established and have momentum, start paying attention to what's happening in the marketplace but don't start following trends. Instead, let the client need guide you.
Third: Market yourself in a real way and not as something that's a caricature of who you think your clients want you to be.
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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