Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Avish Parashar, Founder of Avish Parashar Productions, Inc., located in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business of professional speaking. As the world’s only “Motivational Improviser,” I present interactive, high-energy, and funny keynote speeches for companies and associations holding conferences and events. The keynotes are a blend of content, stories, and improv comedy. My audiences/clients range across industries: human resources, government, finance, IT, etc. Any organization holding a conference, retreat, or annual meeting that is going through change is a good fit for me.
Tell us about yourself
I started performing improv comedy in college and fell in love. After college, I started my own improv group (“Polywumpus Improv Comedy”) with the idea of turning it into the “Second City of Philadelphia.” That didn’t happen, but to that end, I started reading and learning as much as I could about goal setting, motivation, leadership, marketing, etc. The more I learned about those things, the more I realized that improv could be a tool to teach those things. When I finally decided it was time to move on from Polywumpus, I decided to launch my speaking business.
Three things motivate me to do what I do:
- Most important is doing work that can provide for my family while also setting an example for my children about what work can be like.
- Two of my favorite things to do are to perform improv comedy and to teach. Keynote speaking is a beautiful blend of those two things.
- Knowing that in many presentations, you can say something in a certain way that connects with a person who just really needed to hear your message at that moment, and you can help be that “nudge” that gets them to take action to overcome a persistent obstacle or two pursue that goal they have been putting off.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Achieving the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation through the National Speakers Association. It is a fairly involved process that requires showing proof of income, a total number of presentations, and speaking skills over a period of at least five years. Only a small percentage of speakers worldwide have achieved it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Prioritization and balance. There are so many things you can do and so many hats you have to wear. Everything seems important and urgent, and the more you focus on a few things, the more you feel the pressure of those other things that are left undone build up. For me, the hardest thing is to find a balance between activities that truly need to be done now and ones that will make my business better and the future, and to then prioritize all the options I have to accomplish those things and just focus on the top one(s).
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- As in the last question, focus! Pick a small number of activities/strategies and put most of your focus on those things.
- Be able to clearly define your market and what problem they have that your business solves. This is not the only way to do it, but it makes marketing and sales much easier when you are crystal clear on these two things.
- To paraphrase Steve Martin: “Be so good you are impossible to ignore.” It’s easy to get caught up in coming up with fancy marketing, advertising, content, etc. Nothing will build a business as well as being absolutely amazing at what you do. This works for products but is double (triply? quadruply?) true for services? Be unbelievably good, then keep getting better. Every time I return to this principle, my business grows.
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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