Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ariela Freedman, Founder of Compass Within, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.

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

My Compass Within program works with people who are ready to make a career change but aren't sure where to start. I help people move from overwhelmed to clearing space to hear their own voices about who they are and what's important to them. Compass Within is an online coaching program that combines self-paced learning alongside personalized coaching sessions that help people apply the concepts to themselves in a very individualized way. I love working with people this way because it gives people time to prepare for their coaching sessions and make the most of our time together.

Tell us about yourself

I've always been interested in helping people hear their own voices -- this started when I was a high school teacher over 20 years ago and taught English, Drama, and Debate in Chicago. Hearing your own voice and valuing what it says is so much of the work of being a person. We're all so different, yet we think we can give each other advice about who and how to be in the world. The real work is being able to listen to your own voice and follow it. I'm also a singer and a recording artist, but I only came to it in the last eight years. This parallel journey of getting comfortable hearing my own voice is always in my head when I am coaching clients. It's scary to put ourselves out there in the world, and I love helping clients learn to trust themselves and their intuition about what is right for them -- not what someone else says they "should" want.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Compass Within is a new business I started during the pandemic. I've been running my main business, MavenTree Consulting, since 2014. I also just started a new business with a friend this summer called Strength to Strength. I'd say that my biggest accomplishment with any of these is that I feel like I'm doing what I was meant to be doing, and I love my work. It's interesting, fun, rewarding, and gives me the chance to make the kind of difference I aspire to make in the world.

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

On the early side of starting your own business, the hard part is just figuring out what it is you do and learning how to talk about it to people. It's a lot of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, and the hard work is persisting in the face of things not working. After you figure that out, there are parts of being a business owner that are just boring -- motivating yourself to do the day-to-day things that are annoying or feel like a waste of time but just need to be done. Personally, I hate marketing because I worry about coming across as inauthentic. It feels like a constant setup for rejection and disappointment, and it's just hard to put yourself out there that way. It's also hard not to know exactly how much money you'll bring in during any year. Running your own business is a constant choice to persist in the face of the unknown.

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

  1. Rename "failure" as "experimenting" and see it as part of the process. Don't try to think everything out in your head. You need to try out pieces of ideas in the world and see how people react to them in order to find something that works.
  2. Ask for input and advice, but always listen to your gut about what's right for you. Don't let people push you into presenting yourself in a way that doesn't feel right to you.
  3. Start small. Once you figure out what works, scale up from there. Big doesn't always mean high quality.

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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