Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tara Goodfellow, Founder of Athena Consultants, Inc., located in Charlotte, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Athena Educational Consultants, Inc. We serve clients globally who want to identify and secure their best-fit role. We offer life and career coaching and the branding piece, including optimized resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
My customers have been built over the years and come our way mainly via referrals. So, we have clients who are recent graduates and seeking their first full-time role, to career changers, to C-suite clients. Our process is customized, but the standard approach is understanding where you are in your career and on the career happiness meter, identifying your career goals, and then developing a plan as to how you're going to achieve those goals. For others, it's simply an updated and optimized resume that is the service needed.
Tell us about yourself
I'm an accidental entrepreneur. I retired from corporate America when my daughters were 2 and 4 as I was traveling throughout the state, which became brutal. I received a call to teach college career development. I decided to say yes to that opportunity as it worked with my schedule and aligned with my passion. From there, my company was born and has grown.
Being a business owner has provided me the opportunity to attend my girls' sporting events (y'all, I've got two high school daughters playing volleyball at two different high schools) and volunteer at the school and in the community while helping folks find more happiness with their jobs.
I used to slip deeply into the Sunday funk in some jobs. After 14 years as a business owner, I have yet to experience that feeling again. I enjoy my clients, work, the flexibility, and experiences. It's challenging, rewarding, flexible, creative, and always different. Those are key pieces to success and living a fulfilled life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There was a time when my daughters were 7 and 9, and we decided to take up martial arts. I did it with them after school several days a week. Once I got into it, I decided I wanted my black belt in Tae Kwon Do by 40. That was a huge commitment as a business owner and having two daughters (and a husband!). I balanced it well but had some very late hours completing client work for those three years.
Recently, I'm proudest of earning my HUB certification and as an NCSBE. I am excited about the opportunity to secure government contracts. I also completed DEI in the Workplace certification. I'm proud of my client base's diversity and have intentionally been inclusive.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It isn't clean or pretty. The timing doesn't always work out, and there's mom guilt, exhaustion, doubting, and all of those feelings. I'm the decision maker of all things. It's a lot of juggling and balancing. It's like my third child, so I care about it more than anyone else, right? That's amazing and also a bit daunting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Identify your lane. Even though I earned an MBA, I knew I didn't want to manage anything tax or accounting related. Delegate and hire out. Be confident enough to say, "I don't know, but I can find the answer for you."
- Prioritize. Do not try to be a jack of all trades. Early on, unless you have funding, you wear too many hats. Over time, assess what makes sense to continue. Networking can yield amazing results, but time is money, right? I realized it was better to join a few groups and dig in deeply (leadership, board roles) vs. spending hours every week in multiple and never building strong relationships.
- Be adaptable. I didn't use to do LinkedIn profiles until a client asked. I was open to it. I wasn't a certified life coach until I realized I wanted to provide that service, as so many seeking a job could use that layer of professional support. Try new things, and meet new people. Try - and expect to fail. Try - and expect to succeed.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It is okay to start a "side hustle" as you continue to bring in an income. Don't discount your ideas. They're not silly. Have confidence and courage. We only have this one life - go for it (but do it strategically). Be patient with yourself.
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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