Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Catherine Hollyman, Founder of Behind The Scenes Communications, located in Sydney, NSW, Australia.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a leadership communication coach on a mission to empower emerging and existing leaders to realize their full potential. I do this by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate and connect more meaningfully with their stakeholders, thereby increasing their influence and maximising their impact and contribution.
Tell us about yourself
I've worked in the field of communication for over 20 years, half of that time under my own business. I decided to go out on my own back in 2010 when the Managing Director of the company I was working with at the time thanked me, saying: "You have provided me with the necessary coaching that has not only improved my communication capabilities but has given me a lasting self-confidence that will remain with me for life." I realised there and then that I wanted to help more leaders in the same way, so they could go on to inspire and lead others to achieve great things and create positive change.
I've been fortunate enough to work with a wide variety of leaders, from CEOs to those just starting out on their leadership journey. Helping them discover who they are, what they stand for, and the difference they want to make as a leader is a real buzz. And then giving them the skills and confidence to communicate this to their stakeholders and create stronger connections that enable them to maximise their contribution and impact is truly what drives me. It's the leaders of today and tomorrow that will drive positive change in our world... but they need to be able to communicate effectively in order to do so!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving! Learning to evolve and adapt to changing demands, not to mention global pandemics, has been a huge accomplishment. Outside of that, my biggest accomplishments are always when I hear from clients that they have achieved something they set out to do as a leader, whether that's increasing employee engagement, getting a seat on the Executive Team, implementing a new gender-equity initiative, winning an award, or securing an investor. I love to hear about their successes and feel very honoured and fulfilled when they share them with me because that's when I know I've made a difference.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a solo operator, it can be pretty lonely at times. Especially for an extrovert like me. There's also the element of risk that comes with it. You're not guaranteed a pay cheque at the end of the month, even if you've worked your hardest!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Stay focused - you can't be everything to everyone, so know exactly who you're targeting and how your product or service can help them. Start a niche and then expand once you've established your core offering.
- Know why you're doing it - it can be easy to work every hour of every day, but, for me, at least, one reason I continue to work for myself is for the flexibility it affords me.
- Remember you can say "no" - connected to the first two tips...when I first started out, I would say yes to every piece of work that came my way, but it meant I lost focus on my core purpose. As a result, it wasn't until a few years in - when I started saying no to work that didn't align with my goals and core service - that I had the business I'd envisioned back in 2010.
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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