Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dominique Padurano, Founder of Crimson Coaching, located in Bohemia, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Crimson Coaching provides academic tutoring, test prep, and college counseling to students worldwide. The customers are generally their parents, though sometimes adult students find their way to me, too.
Tell us about yourself
The first time I ever tutored someone was when I was in first grade. An early reader, I'd zip through my schoolwork quickly. My teacher didn't quite know what to do with me -- until she assigned me the task of teaching my classmate to read. It was a win-win: my classmate learned to read, and I discovered I was good at teaching. I continued helping classmates with homework throughout elementary and middle school. By the time I was an undergraduate at Harvard, I was tutoring as a part-time job. Eventually, I became a certified teacher and taught high school history in New York State for 10+ years. However, in 2014, I returned to tutoring full-time when I founded Crimson Coaching. I love seeing the huge impact I can have on one student's life through our intensive one-on-one work. This, in addition to the satisfaction of knowing that teens often earn lots of scholarship money and admission to their top-choice schools after prepping for the SAT or writing their college essays with my guidance, is what motivates me every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is probably not only staying open continuously for 8+ years (most small businesses close within 5) but also now earning more than I did when I was a classroom teacher while having way more free time and flexibility with that time. In addition, helping two young women from Israel gain acceptance to Harvard, my alma mater, has been hugely gratifying.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In a business like mine, client turnover is rapid. The longest I may have a single client is two years, so it's a continuous hustle to get myself out in front of new audiences of parents so that they know who I am, come to like and trust me, and eventually hire me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't quit your day job. Or, if you do, make sure you've got a nice nest egg saved up from which you can draw while you're getting your business up and running.
- Don't expect immediate success. I struggled financially during the first SIX years of my business. Ironically, COVID catalyzed a big change to the way I deliver my service (i.e., from in-person to Zoom tutoring), and therefore doubled the number of students I could work with in any one day. My business is now doing great, but it didn't start that way. If I weren't inherently optimistic and flexible (see #3), I likely would've been one of those small businesses that closed within the first five years.
- Be flexible. If the way you've been doing things isn't working, don't be afraid to try something new. I have a friend whose small coaching business is struggling. I've counseled her to get the word out via Facebook Live videos and sharing with FB groups. I've done this for years, and not only do the videos reach thousands of new eyeballs, but they've also gotten me new paying clients! Yet, my friend refuses to put herself out there. To succeed as a small business owner, you can't be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things.
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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