Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Beki Zajac, Founder of On Being Human Leadership Coaching, located in Victoria, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
On Being Human Leadership Coaching offers leadership coaching and development support to introverts and other quiet leaders. I offer support for them to embrace their introverted nature and to lead in a way that feels natural to them. Instead of trying to pretend they align with the extrovert ideal, my clients learn to find their voice and feel more human at work by cultivating their introverted leadership style.
Tell us about yourself
I was a leader for many years, working in a technical field and delivering on complex projects. After a lot of reflection, I realized that although I was following a "good" career trajectory, I wasn't living in alignment with my authenticity. I wanted to help other introvert leaders to feel more comfortable in their skin, and I wanted to somehow make a change in organizations to make them feel more human for all of us. I had worked with a coach in the past, and I knew the power of the work, so I enrolled in a coaching program certified by the International Coaching Federation and eventually took the leap to start my own practice. Becoming an entrepreneur is the scariest thing I've ever done, but I'm motivated by the difference I can make in my clients' lives. With every leader that gains the confidence to show up more authentically in their role, I believe I'm making the working world more human.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment right now is my monthly meet-up group. I started a pre-work coffee meet-up on a whim last year, thinking of what kind of connection I wanted as an introvert. After running three monthly meet-ups, I've been amazed at a depth of the discussions and the sense of community that is starting to build. It's a free event, and it's accomplishing a small sliver of what I wanted to build—I see people embracing their introvert nature together and leaving feeling more confident in their ability to lead as an introvert at work. I'm also learning a lot from them all!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Probably the uncertainty is the hardest part. When I worked in organizations, there was a lot more structure and a lot more predictability. Now, I'm building something brand new. I'm responsible for setting the vision, developing a plan to execute, following up on results, and holding myself accountable. All while learning something new every day! There is a lot of freedom and a lot of possibilities, but it takes courage to remain committed when you're not necessarily sure what the future has in store.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Understand why you're doing what you're doing. If it's just about the money, it might be tough to stick it out over the long term or when the business isn't growing as quickly as you'd like. When you understand what you're trying to change for your customers or the world, though, that can give you the strength to push through those difficult times.
- Don't forget to think about the community. If you're transitioning from working in a team to working solo, it can get pretty lonely. I was intentional at the outset about figuring out how I would have connection and support in my new work week, which has been hugely important. Reach out to professional organizations to volunteer, find others in the same field that you can meet with for coffee, and maintain your connections with old coworkers. Don't underestimate the importance of community!
- Avoid comparison. It can be easy to look over at someone else's business and think they're doing a better job than you are. But we're all on our own journey. No two businesses are exactly alike, and no two business owners are exactly alike. And, of course, they have challenges, too, but you're just seeing the end results of a lot of sweat and tears. Instead of worrying whether you're keeping up with others, focus on whether you're better than you were yesterday. What have you learned? What have you built? What successes have you experienced?
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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