Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mercedes Blackwood, Founder of Black Coffee Communications Inc., located in Markham, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Black Coffee Communications Inc. guides individual clients, organizations, and not-for-profits to develop meaningful connections with audiences via strategic communications, content strategy, and tailored written content. Rather than a type of business or organization, we focus on bringing clarity of purpose. As a result, we've had the pleasure of working in various industries and scenarios, from helping entrepreneurs step into their gifts to guiding community and corporate groups to enact change.

Tell us about yourself

I worked in media for nearly 15 years before a layoff marked a shift in the industry and my life. I'd gained such valuable skills and had a chance to hone my gifts, and I knew I had more to offer if in a different setting. Then, I received a call from a client I'd worked with, asking if I could help them streamline their communications and public relations strategy. The rest, as they say, was history. They are still my client today, and I've gained the opportunity to work on many meaningful projects with them and others. Each day, I still find joy in watching a vision become a reality simply by using more transparent and empathetic communication.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

That I'm still here! I consider each day I get to work for myself an accomplishment. I started with some skills and hope, and now I have a roster of clients and wonderful colleagues with whom I get to collaborate to help our clients achieve their goals. I gained every client by word of mouth rather than marketing and advertising. My best advertisers are my clients, and I'm proud and protective of that truth.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Managing all aspects of business, regardless of your specific forte, is always the most challenging part. Operating functions like accounting and taxes, contracts, legal concerns, and personnel challenges–everything that enables business but isn't your core function, are the most demanding and essential to master. Understanding that getting a good handle on these functions is the key to keeping your business running well is a hard lesson. Still, once you accept, learn and get the help you need, you're on your way.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Research! I didn't know much about starting or running a business, so I used the local Business Center and library to take free classes about everything from registering and business to taxes. I highly recommend getting knowledge and guidance from trustworthy sources, it saved me so much time and heartache.
  2. Ask for Help. Again, there's no way to know everything. Seek out others in similar businesses to ask what worked for them, and when you find yourself deficient, don't be afraid to ask for help. Also, don't always look 'up.' I have found so many wonderful colleagues at the same point as I was to create fantastic opportunities - vertical networking for the win.
  3. Create separation and rest. It can be easy to meld your entire life into your business, but I recommend keeping sacred spaces that have nothing to do with how you make your living. It's what gives you the strength and drive to carry on.

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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