Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Wiley, Co-Founder of CoreCollaborative International, located in Harrisonburg, VA, USA.

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

CoreCollaborative International (CCI) is a women-owned consulting firm that uses a human needs framework to offer intercultural training and assessment, program design and evaluation, and strategic planning around diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Our customers are government agency directors, senior DEI or International Officers in higher education, and NGO leaders who need their teams or clients to navigate interpersonal differences with strength that leads so that the benefits of team diversity can be fully realized and appreciated.

Tell us about yourself

When the co-founders of CCI met, we were colleagues at the University of Virginia managing international programs and institutional relations. We knew big life transitions were ahead for each of us, but we wanted a context (good excuse) for staying in collaboration with one another. We had created such a unique work environment, one where we could be our whole selves, that we didn't want to give that up. What motivates me each day are the interactions with my partners and clients. My innate curiosity, not in an exploitative or intrusive sense, leads me to want to understand how other people see the world. I love to find spaces where I learn about new ways of being in the world from the people with whom I work.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been keeping the company thriving for nearly ten years. 2023 is our tenth anniversary, and we have grown tremendously even through the pandemic. I say thriving not just from an economic sense but from a well-being perspective. Through ten years of transitions and growth, we have maintained the culture of putting humans first. In our regular meetings, CCI partners share both professional and personal challenges and successes. We can be all of who we are with one another. We have received feedback from clients that our approach to one another spills over on them and becomes a goal they strive to reach in their own work culture.

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

Saying no to opportunities is one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner. Knowing our capacity and calculating the "happiness" factor into the number of projects we take on is important. Sometimes, even with that knowledge, it is difficult to say no to work opportunities because we believe and see in our feedback evaluations that what we do has a long-term positive social impact.

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

  1. Take a look at the work culture you are in right now. Make observations about how certain systems/processes/spaces/relationships make you feel. Then, reflect on what you would want in work culture if you could create it. What would things be difficult for you to recreate on your own? Use these reflections before you choose to begin your own business.
  2. Use the small business association resources centers around you every chance you get.
  3. Set up systems of evaluation as you plan your future goals. How will you measure success? How will you know what comes next?

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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