Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Casey Tonnelly, Founder and Owner of Beyond Thinking, located in Long Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Beyond Thinking is an Anti-Racism (DEI) Coaching, Facilitation, and Consulting practice. Beyond Thinking's coaching clients include individuals, corporate leaders, and new managers striving to excavate their biases and lead with an equity lens. In the consulting and facilitation portion of the practice, I serve and support BIPOC leaders and consultants who are leading DEI in companies, government, and non-profit work environments.
Tell us about yourself
I have had the privilege of engaging in Anti-Racism (DEI) work for almost twenty years. While I was working for the city of Seattle, I was involved in the city's Race & Social Justice Initiative (RSJI). First, as an Anti-Racial Profiling trainer in the Seattle Police Department (SPD) then I became a co-chair of the RSJI's Change Team in SPD. From there, I joined RSJI's CORE Team, a three-year commitment to learning, unlearning, skill building, community building, mentorship, mentoring, advocacy, leadership development, and more.
I ended up my time in the city of Seattle in the Office for Civil Rights on the RSJI team. I left the city and started my practice for a few reasons: I got pigeon-holed into delivering training and facilitating volatile conversations, administration changes every 4 (or less) years always hindered and often suppressed RSJI work, and the community (external and internal to the city) was no longer centered.
I needed and wanted to walk in my purpose of advancing efforts to achieve equity. Starting my own practice was terrifying, with a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, but I am living my purpose now, and I never look back.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I started this practice in January 2020. The early days of the pandemic knocked out all of my prospects, scheduled speaking events, and workshops. I took one day to have a "pity party" where I stayed in my pajamas, ate junk food, and watched bad tv. My partner made me a "pity party" hat that I wore for most of the day. The next day, I started reaching out to my network to set up times to brainstorm. I offered free coaching to folx struggling, and dedicated time to creating (videos, newsletters, and developed a free Anti-Racism journal).
People began to hire me in Seattle until March of 2021, when I moved to Long Beach, CA. I hired a virtual assistant to manage my social media, help with research, and handle some of the things I was not skilled at doing. I joined the local LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and a local professional coaching chapter to learn how people do things here, meet fellow entrepreneurs and coaches, and gain inspiration. My practice has grown immensely and is thriving!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Learning all of the pieces of being a business owner! From how to register your company to when/how/how much to pay in taxes to being responsible for all aspects of the business (IT, Accounting, Business Development, Human Resources, Operations, etc.). Finding resources, mentors, and other new entrepreneurs were vital.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start your business planning early.
- Connect with others who have started successful businesses and with others in a similar stage to yourself.
- Have/attain some funding. Options include:
• Your personal funds/crowdsourcing
• Bank loans
• There are a lot of small business grants out there!
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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