Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cheryl Carter, CEO of Collegiate Learning, located in Valley Stream, NY, USA.

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

I help learners get a competitive edge in college admissions by developing their writing, college prep, and study skills. Publishing guidance is a large component of what makes our students stand out. Neurodiverse learners are particularly welcomed.

We work well with ADHD, autistic, learning disabled, etc., learners. I also write books and curricula for the clients I serve. Meaningful Writing is my latest evidence-based writing approach for college-bound students, especially those who struggle with writing.

Tell us about yourself

I transitioned out of classroom teaching to entrepreneurship several years ago. Besides teaching college English, I am what friends call an academically "decorated" professional who has a few degrees. I enjoy helping individuals reach their academic potential. I started out helping adults get published but transitioned to children and youth because it has helped those students get an edge in college admissions. Tutoring and practical (workshop) classes are part of what my young clients experience.

I also work with a variety of populations. I am most proud of the fact that my classes are culturally and ethnically diverse. I am often asked about how I achieved this diversity balance as an educator. My classes appeal to those who enjoy dialoguing about ideas as well as growing as individuals. Tolerance and empathy are stressed in my classes. I am motivated daily by the progress I see in my learners and by seeing my clients reach their goals.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I once read we should not be simply comfortable in our own abilities, but we should know how to transform others. I am proud of the fact that my business can/will outlive me. I have expanded my business with teachers who are passionate about academic excellence and educational access. Most important, they embrace the belief that everyone has untapped human potential.

Their commitment to these beliefs has allowed me the space to write and create, although, besides college, I still teach a few classes. Every day, I continue to search for ways to help others reach their potential. With this end goal, I am not sure I will ever see the fullness of my business potential, although ironically, I continue to stretch for it.

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

The hardest part for me is not having someone to brainstorm ideas with or counsel before I change an aspect of my business. I do have people I speak with and business colleagues, but since my business is so 'different", I find it hard to get the muse to someone who understands all the aspects of my business.

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

  1. To be okay with failure. I have learned from every business mistake I have made.
  2. To network with others. You need others to encourage and guide you along the way. Even if you are working in a specialized niche, practical business rules apply. Networking is essential.
  3. Whether you achieve outrageous success or failure, what you 'do" does not define "who" you are as a person. Our humanity is so much more than financial success or failure.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Teachers can shift to entrepreneurial pursuits more easily than they think.

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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