Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in professional development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caroline Crawford, founder of Caroline Crawford Consulting, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Caroline Crawford Consulting creates the space for more curiosity, compassion, and clarity in the world. My work is rooted in a deep understanding of the therapeutic and coaching processes - a product of formal and extensive training in both. This unique and potent mix of psychological and leadership training allows me to create authentic connections that motivate clients and facilitate positive change.
I work with individuals, teams, organizations, and affinity groups as a coach, clinician, and consultant. I believe every voice deserves to be heard. I love watching my clients have the AHA moment and realize everything they need is already inside them. But life, careers, relationships, and trauma can get in the way. My job is to help you make sense of it all, help you find clarity in the chaos, and create powerful self-awareness.
Tell us about yourself
I have worked in the people field for over a decade. From a camp counselor facilitating my cabin to a camp director managing 200 counselors to the Chief Program Officer of a non-profit in charge of over 6,000 people, I know the importance of creating a culture based on emotional intelligence and psychological safety. I know how to wear many hats and how to put out fires. I know how to inspire teams and how to influence those around me. I know how to unlock potential and empower others to use their voice. I see the need to truly understand yourself first before you can lead others. But that takes work.
To understand me, I went to graduate school at The University of Texas for Clinical Social Work, where I obtained my Licensed Master in Social Work degree. I had to take a hard look at my biases and prejudices. I had to learn theories and diagnoses. I had to unpack my fixed mindsets and turn them into growth mindsets. I had to name my values and go live by them. I pushed myself further to take continuing education courses like Yale University’s Fostering Inclusion and Diversity course, the Society of Emotional Intelligence’s EQ-I 2.0 and EQ 360 course, and Cloverleaf's Enneagram Certification course.
I started sharing my knowledge more and more. I saw the value of creating an authentic connection to inspire positive change. I decided my passion needed to become my vocation. I obtained my Certified Positive Psychology Coaching certificate from The School of Coaching Mastery and started Caroline Crawford Consulting. Currently, I have served over 35 organizations and 70 individual clients. It has been a wild ride, and I am loving it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is creating something out of nothing. I have a little obsession with magic. The idea that anything can be successful, memorable, engaging, educating, and FUN if you put the right energy into it. I remember working at camp years ago, and my team of counselors was assigned bathroom duty. It was without a doubt the worst job you could be assigned. The looks I received from my team could kill. It was 100 degrees outside. We were hot, we were miserable, and we were just assigned bathroom duty.
I started passing out the brooms, plungers, and toilet paper. At that moment, I realized we all had on matching Chaco sandals. I raised my plunger in the air and started marching as if I were leading a parade. I began singing, "I'm here, and I like it, Rock Your Chacos, Rock Your Chacos," to the tune of The Clash's "Rock the Casbah." They started laughing. And started singing along. We became Team Chaco singing from one bathroom to the next. We chanted, "We will, We will Chaco You," like We Will Rock You by Queen. By the last bathroom, every other team had joined in our parade and our singing, and we had the entire staff help clean the bathroom. THAT WAS MAGIC. And that's what I get to do every day.
Life can be routine, it can be mundane, and it can be hard and depressing. I do not deny that. I explore it and validate the very real pain out there. And then, I try to add magic. Whether the magic is through team building or culture creation in a corporate setting, self-awareness, and insights during one-on-one coaching, or having a whole room laugh together when I do speaking engagements or retreats, I get to bring the energy. That energy leads to vulnerability, and that vulnerability creates better leaders, managers, partners, and friends. I know one of my sessions has been a success when I see others creating magic too.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is wearing all the hats. So many hats. I have top hats, cowboy hats, fedoras, ball caps, flower crowns, and even a beret from time to time. I love doing the people work. I am a great coach, facilitator, and speaker. I am excellent at creating content and programming. Those are my trusty hats. However, the new hats like the head of finance, head of technology, head of operations, executive assistant, and marketing director have required quite the learning curb. It is very hard to know what your challenges are and still have to be in charge of them every day. The hustle is real. I google a lot! I ask for help a lot! I am learning so much about how to truly run a business. On the flip side, it makes the success I have all the sweeter, like a tie-died bucket hat!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Develop, Brag, and Be Brave.
- Develop – Don’t stop learning. Maintain a growth mindset. Learn from those old and young. You may already be an expert in something, but I challenge you to keep adding to your learnings. When I didn’t have any clients, I developed instead of sitting in existential dread wondering if starting a business was the worst decision of my life. I took concentrated courses on Emotional Intelligence and Resiliency. I got my CPPC (Certified Positive Psychology Coaching) certificate and my licensure for my MSW degree. IT WAS HARD. I put myself in a space to fail. To feel like a fool. To be graded again. But like Madame Glennon Doyle tells us, “We can do hard things.” And I learned so much in return.
- Brag – With all the development, you better believe I talk about it. As women, we are socialized to believe that bragging is rude, unbecoming, or selfish. I have gotten some of my biggest deals because I shared my accomplishments and belief in myself. Show off your badassery with the world. I remember the first time I posted a positive review from a client. I thought it seemed so egotistical. Will people think I am self-absorbed? Is this just a bragging post? But, within one hour, I received three different inquiries about my services. And all three became paying clients. So, the moral of the story: brag away, ladies. Don’t forget the words of her Highness, Alice Walker, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Own your power.
- Be Brave – You want to be an entrepreneur, then be one. Start today. Find mentors and role models. Network on LinkedIn. Check out the competition. Create a plan. Have a backup plan. You can start as a side hustle. You can start without a website. My first client venomed me for the session because I had no way of invoicing her. My first corporate client asked for an official contract, and I spent the night googling “official contracts.” You don’t have to have it all figured out. It does not need to be perfect. Ask for help. Put yourself out there. And entrepreneurship can look different. There isn’t one right way to do it. What motivates and energizes you? Can the world’s greatest needs collide with your greatest gifts? Can you make your passion into your vocation? Maybe not full-time. Maybe we have mouths to feed and bills to pay. That’s okay. Put pen to paper. As Queen Brene Brown says, “create your shitty first draft” and “choose courage over comfort.” You never know where that idea will lead you.
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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