Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erika Tate, Founder & CEO of Bluknowledge LLC, located in Savannah, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bluknowledge is a learning and consulting firm that advances equity in schools and communities through collaborative research, insightful evaluation services, and equity-driven professional learning.
We support mission-driven organizations (e.g., non-profits, community-serving agencies, and research collaboratives) to realize their vision and increase their impact with our external evaluation and community inquiry services (e.g., stakeholder interviews and surveys, focus groups, data reviews).
We empower K-12 teachers and school leaders to design and deliver equitable and effective instruction with professional learning experiences (e.g., job-embedded coaching and facilitating professional dialogue). We also design and deliver community-centered STEM learning experiences for children, families, and neighbors.
We engage professionals who center equity in their work (or aspire to do so) with curated professional learning experiences and a community-building live broadcast show, Remix EQ Live, where we amplify equity-driven approaches that make the world a more just place.
Tell us about yourself
I love learning, and I love the community! And during my doctoral program, I had the privilege to design and study technology-enhanced STEM learning that connected classrooms and communities in pursuit of social justice. For several years, I was able to do “all the things” that I loved the most: design, “play” with tech toys, study the best ways to teach and learn science, and, most of all, advocate alongside community members for healthier neighborhoods.
Shortly after I graduated, I founded Bluknowledge as a social justice firm. For more than a decade (with some time off to bring a couple of amazing kids into this world), I have established partnerships with and provided services for nonprofits, community-serving agencies, and university research programs. I’ve embedded myself in learning communities in classrooms, schools, and neighborhoods. Currently, I am building an online professional learning community of changemakers who seek to make the world a more just place.
My business, Bluknowledge, empowers me to do what I love. I listen to the wants and needs of individuals, organizations, and communities. I learn from them about what they value and the impact they want to make. I position myself as a resource for them to deepen their understanding of themselves and the communities they serve and design solutions (e.g., learning experiences, revised programming, new methodologies) that build knowledge, change practice, and facilitate more equitable outcomes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In January 2022, I launched Remix EQ as a live broadcast show, platform, and learning community for professionals who center equity in their work or aspire to do so. What started as a creative pursuit and a commitment to use my voice to amplify the work of others has manifested into 2 seasons 16 shows on topics such as investing in equitable education, entrepreneurship, and community advocacy, and 20 guests in the education, philanthropy, and STEM fields. Boasting a growing viewership of 2700+ changemakers across the world, these conversations for change have reprised my role as a social entrepreneur and reinvigorated my pursuit to make the world a more just place.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The uncertainty. Even a great idea with a solid plan and lots of hustle can be upended with delayed project timelines and late payments, which equals reduced cash flow or less-than-expected sales or funding. And let’s not forget about a once-in-lifetime (we hope!) pandemic or the more frequent family emergency or childcare dilemmas. Yet, each time I encounter these challenges, I learn to anticipate, circumvent, and sometimes just accept what is and to keep planning for what’s next!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know Thyself: What impact do you want to make? What risks are you willing to take? How do you handle challenges and manage stress? What brings you joy?
- Know Your Value: Your personal and professional experiences have enabled you to hone your expertise on a topic, process, or context. This informs your approach to identifying and solving problems or designing and delivering services. You own this expertise. It is of value. Monetize it and exchange it for cash!
- Know Your Endgame: Do you want your side hustle to become your main venture? Are you seeking additional streams of income or investors to scale your business? Will you retire from this business or sell and start another? Business planning with your end in mind yields an entrepreneurial journey that aligns with your values and realizes your mission.
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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