Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ed Hunter, Founder of Life in Progress Coaching, located in Wayne, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a professional Career and Executive Coach. I work with all types of adults, but I do have a special interest in working with neurodiverse adults, specifically, adults with high-functioning autism, attention deficit disorder, and similar issues. People and organizations hire me to help them make big decisions about their careers, to help them manage stress and interpersonal challenges so they can better thrive, or to help them achieve the next step in their careers. All of my clients want to thrive, share their gifts, and be happy in their own skin.
Tell us about yourself
I first learned about professional coaching when I worked with a career coach myself. I was lost, really struggling to cope with being in a job that was NOT a good fit for me. I could not articulate what I wanted, but I knew my current job was NOT IT! Further, I knew it was harming me: my joy, optimism, and energy were all running dry. On the other hand, my stress, anxiety, and pessimism were overflowing. I knew I needed help. What happened changed my life. I did the hard work with my coach to unpack, then piece together my own answers. It was sloppy and took time, but my coach and I persevered. In time, I made a rather radical career shift from technology marketing into higher education administration at an art college! It opened up new career paths that eventually then led me to coaching. But more importantly, it gave me back 'me". My true nature came out again. I felt joy going to work. In short, I flourished. That is when the light really went on for me: 'What could be better than helping other people to experience what it feels like -- when what you do is an expression of who you truly are? That's when I knew I was going to be a coach.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When I committed to going "full time" as a coach, I left behind a $100K/year job. And I had a family to support, a mortgage to pay, college bills for my kids... the works. My goal, business-wise, was clear to me to replace and eventually surpass that income via my coaching. I reached $100K in less than 3 years. Since then, I have more than doubled it. I don't coach to get rich. But I'm proud that I could find a way to use my business skills (I have an MBA and loads of organizational experience) in the service of helping others. I believe it's ok to "do good while doing well and strive for that in all that I do.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One thing I miss about organizations is the easy availability of people who know more than you about a particular area. As a solopreneur, you not only have to wear a lot of hats, but you also frequently don't have the luxury of the time, the money, or the energy to bring smarter, wiser experts to the table. Sometimes I have to settle for being a "jack of all trades." But I have learned to continuously cultivate a network of pros who I like, who like me, and who can sometimes their specific expertise with me. I think of them as my informal "board of directors."
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your homework and plan carefully.
- Answer: Where will the money come from? Hope, wishing, and optimism are not business strategies.
- And despite the first two questions, understand that being successful on your own will require you to learn and adapt to circumstances you could never, ever have anticipated. So TRUST yourself and your own capacity to learn from difficult challenges, unexpected changes, amazing wins, and heartbreaking losses. Your resilience is often the difference between learning from a setback or being broken by it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love being a solopreneur. It suits me. I like the scale of it, the intimacy of it, the intellectual stimulation, and the excitement of knowing that if I want more, I can get up in the morning and make it happen. Not everyone is wired like that. If you think you are, though, step into it!
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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