Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Saran Traore, Founder and CEO of ELEV8 LLC., located in Columbia, MD, USA.

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

ELEV8 (Elevate) is a leadership development and strategic consulting firm founded on the belief that being a successful and impactful leader does not start when an individual steps into a formal title, especially in an evolving workforce. Leadership behaviors are cultivated early and over time to shape authentic leaders towards sustainable habits. ELEV8 is equipped with the skills and passion to support the development of key leadership habits with real-world implementation strategies. Our customers are both established and emerging leaders who subscribe to the above motto of continuous development of leadership habits.

Tell us about yourself

My life circumstances as a primary caregiver to close family members and a mother led me to step away from a rewarding but demanding career as a consultant a year ago. Three months after taking full stock of my new reality and discovering what I enjoyed most in my thriving professional career, I kept coming back to people and learning as my center. A Certified Executive Coach, coupled with over 10 plus years of professional experience, I leverage advanced coaching methodologies, approaches, and assessments to support leaders and teams in accelerating capacity, agility, and resilience to tackle the toughest challenges today. I am passionate about my clients, sharpening my skills, and building relationships that diversify my worldview. No one person is all-knowing all the time. I have learned that, together with my clients and network, much can be accomplished!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As I celebrate one year in business, my biggest accomplishment so far is that I have brought this firm from survival to scaling by staying true to the reasons why I started it. I am proud that I can continue to be a provider and be mentally and physically present for my loved ones.

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

My proudest accomplishment as a business owner is very much linked to the hardest thing that comes with running your own firm. Balance decision-making and tradeoffs of "Where & When." "Where" should my energy be focused and "when" to make key decisions to advance the business (right time, right engagement, time to take a break, etc.) All other downstream "hardships" can be mitigated or a further barrier if unable to balance these two.

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

  1. Skills and Passion: To start, run, or grow a business, these two go hand-in-hand. If one is missing or not up to par, be ready to put in the work to get it there.
  2. Nimble and Resilient Mindset: As change is the only constant, being nimble and resilient is the surest way for a business owner to navigate barriers and accomplish goals.
  3. Network, Relationships, and Support: You can be at the helm, but no one does or accomplishes anything alone. Having a strong network and genuine relationships was crucial in starting my business and accomplishing my first-year goals. The sheer support and "cheerleading" was major in my ability to make things happen and find innovative solutions that would otherwise have been "closed" to me.

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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