Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maren Perry, President of Arden Coaching, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a leadership development firm focusing on improving leadership effectiveness through one-on-one executive coaching, working with leadership teams, and training groups in leadership techniques. Our focus is on the soft/interpersonal skills that are so essential to leaders: navigating relationships, communication skills, emotional intelligence, listening, coaching, and influence. Our customers are senior leaders in everything from fast-growing startups to midsized or large corporations who understand the importance of developing their talent.
Tell us about yourself
As an executive coach myself and someone who's always been fascinated by who we are as human beings, what makes us tick, and how we think and make decisions, I started working as a solopreneur executive coach in 2007. While now my job is managing the 40 people on our team and not doing the delivery anymore, I am honored to improve people's lives every day. The executives who work with us get better, and that impacts the many, many others who interact with them and for whom they are responsible. We spend so much of our lives at work: if that experience can improve and, better yet, teach us something and grow us as human beings, then our work to impact that has been of great value.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
With 15 successful years, there has been a lot of learning and accomplishment, but I'm most proud of having brought together the truly extraordinary group of people that makes up our team. I'm so honored to get to work with them each day. They teach, challenge, and make me better every day -- and we have fun doing it!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being a business owner is that the buck stops with me when dealing with the unpleasant tasks, too: dealing with a challenging client, letting someone go, navigating unexpected challenges on an engagement, telling someone their work wasn't up to par, etc. But that's the job!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I think many people who start businesses do so because they love the service/product they are starting the company around, but they underestimate the work it takes to work on the business itself. Just because you love building specialty bicycles doesn't mean it is your primary job. If you're a business owner, your primary job is making the business run: hiring the website designer, figuring out software for your billing system, navigating the relationship with suppliers, and figuring out the town rule for putting signage on your property. So my first tip is to accept that and be sure THAT it is the job you want. Second, invest in the back office. No one wants to interact with terrible customer service, and to have good customer service; you need to have good systems -- take time to get them right. Third, make sure you can sustain yourself financially and emotionally as your business grows and cannot yet support you. If your business has pressure to succeed right from the start, you won't necessarily make the best long-term decisions.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The fourth piece of advice: keep going and fail forward!! You have to try things that don't work to learn what does work.
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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