Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Sarah Porter, Licensed Psychologist based in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As the founder of a virtual speaking and training practice, I deliver keynotes and workshops full of science-backed strategies that increase workplace effectiveness, engagement, and – above all – well-being. I translate the latest psychological research findings into simple skills that attendees can implement right away to not only flourish individually but also make their organizations happier and healthier places to be.
My signature offerings include sessions on setting boundaries and saying no, giving and receiving effective feedback cultivating a growth mindset increasing motivation and change readiness boosting resilience, and tackling public speaking anxiety. Because of the relevance of my content across industries, my customers range from Fortune 500 financial firms to tech startups, national nonprofits to institutions of higher education.
Tell us about yourself
I am a counseling psychologist with a track record of success as a management consultant for a Big Four professional services firm, college professor, director of university wellness programming, and therapist. Given my career background, I approach my work from a unique perspective:
I understand both the business need for soft skills development and the deeply personal impact that core skill-building can have on each of our lives. I am also an extrovert with a dash of nerd who enjoys bringing the head and the heart together in every talk that I give.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Attendees have described my virtual training as “4D experiences” that rival the very best in-person events because they are filled with insights that leave folks feeling understood, excited, and empowered to take action. This feedback means a lot to me because I work hard to design highly interactive, dynamic workshops and keynotes that hold audience members’ attention. No Zoom fatigue on my watch!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a solopreneur, you are your own boss. The upside is loads of autonomy. The downside? It can be harder to set boundaries around your work because – guess what! – your boss comes home with you at the end of the workday. Be intentional about taking off your professional hat by creating literal and/or figurative separation between work and home.
Set (and do your best to stick to!) business hours. Schedule lunch breaks, workouts, quiet time, and social connections the same way you book meetings. Block your calendar for vacation days well in advance. It’s a lot easier to start with these healthy habits than try to figure them out midstream when you are edging toward burnout.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Give yourself a runway. This might mean starting your business as a side hustle while working full-time. Or squirreling away money each month to build up a nest egg that will allow you to stay afloat during the scrappy first year of business ownership. By strategically planning the launch of your business and creating a financial cushion first, you can avoid unnecessary stress and make business decisions from a place of security, not panic.
- Don’t go it alone. Small business ownership can be isolating. Build a squad composed of your biggest cheerleaders who will keep your energy up on the most daunting days, seasoned entrepreneurs who enjoy sharing their wisdom with you, and a cadre of subject matter experts in areas where you are less knowledgeable (e.g., a skilled accountant, a well-versed attorney).
- Track your wins. It can be tempting to always look ahead at the never-ending to-do list of projects you need to tackle. However, one of the best ways to maintain the momentum you’ll need to conquer your next frontier is to write down and frequently reflect on the many milestones you’ve already reached along the way.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am a big believer in taking values-guided action, a concept from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that means saying yes to opportunities that align with what we care about and move us toward our most meaningful goals…even if it’s a little scary. This requires us to first get clear on what our core values are and then use them as guideposts for our decision-making.
Researchers have shown time and time again that our biggest regrets typically center around the path not taken. While there is an inherent risk in going out on your own, the reward can be incredible.
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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