Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Kuei, founder of Elevate LifeCoaching, located in San Gabriel, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a visibility coach and motivational speaker. For ease of remembering, I like to refer to myself as an expert in storytelling. I work with women coaches to use the power of storytelling to grow a thriving business confidently and courageously so they can get seen, heard, and hired.
One of the biggest struggles and frustrations for women coaches and also entrepreneurs is how to get your message across and get your voice heard by your potential clients. I help women put their words together in cohesive ways that resonate and sing like a melody in their audience’s heart and soul, so they get noticed and get clients. As a visibility coach, I help them achieve this by creating meaningful and engaging content that catches their audience’s attention and eyes. It’s as if their audience is binge-watching them like a book, television show…. a memorable story.
Tell us about yourself
My journey began when I was 11 years old. I had a car accident that resulted in permanent damage to my legs. I’m 4’4” tall, and I walk with crutches. It was emotionally and physically challenging growing up. There were so many things that normal people could do, but I couldn’t – still can’t. Things like going out for a run, jumping jacks, hopscotch, or things as simple as reaching a top shelf in a grocery store.
This physical limitation led to a mindset limitation. I tried very hard to hide in the crowd. I wanted to blend in and not stand out and be different. But with how I look, it’s really hard to miss, and I’ve always drawn a lot of attention. Honestly, all my life, I just wanted to be NORMAL. Ordinary….normal….to blend in and not to be different.
This feeling of alienation from the world and society I live in pushed me to search for the meaning of life. As I stood in the shower one day holding a razor blade in one hand, questioning my existence, my inner voice of wisdom called me to keep going. In 2019, after years of searching for meaning…I decided to challenge myself to reach for the mountaintops. I booked myself a ticket, flew to Cuzco, Peru, and hiked 26 miles of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, reaching the highest peak at 14,000 feet above sea level. It was challenging both physically and emotionally while pushing my wrists against the two crutches and taking one step at a time.
When I returned from Machu Picchu, I realized that I do have a purpose in this life. When I reflect on all the strangers, I encountered on that journey. I realized I am capable of doing extraordinary things by simply being their inspiration. Be that guidepost where when you don’t think you’ll be able to make it, I am here to champion you to keep moving. Having this realization that I can be someone else’s motivation and inspiration to take action and think bigger in their lives, I knew I was on to something.
I went on to enroll myself in a coaching certification program and finally got certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Here I am four years later …, and my mission is to help other women coaches think bigger so they can spread their love and passion for helping more people. I like to see work as casting a stone in the river, and every coach I help will cause this ripple effect to help more people.
What gets me moving every day is thinking about the people I can help. I’m only one person, but if I can focus on changing one person's life, that’s good enough for me. What also motivates me is my cat, Toby. He gets me out of my bed to feed him every morning.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Many people think that starting a business is easy. Take some loans and just get started. But that’s not the case when you are a solopreneur and you’re working a full-time job trying to turn a side hustle into a full-time coaching business. Not having any prior network to tap into or knowing anyone who would actually want to sign up for my program, there was a lot of legwork involved. I remember staring at my savings account with only $2,500 left and wondering if I would have any paying clients at all.
Was this just a fantasy? Was I stuck and having to go back to a job that just drains the life out of me? So my biggest accomplishment as a business owner isn’t the fact that I’m making a 6-figure or 7-figured income today. My biggest accomplishment is the fact that I didn’t give up. I didn’t let myself talk myself out of this passion of having a thriving coaching business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I believe the biggest and hardest thing about being a business owner is how you enroll other people onboard to dream what you dream. So many of us started a business not just limited to wanting freedom and money in life. There’s something else bigger than freedom and money….it’s the sense of fulfillment, the vision we have for our lives and this world. What I’ve noticed from the women coaches I work with as well as myself is having difficulty enrolling people to our vision.
I find that many people struggle to describe this “Utopia” they have inside of them clear and concise enough for others to feel the passion and excitement. When you can’t get others on board with you, people tend not to do business with you because they can’t see what you see. They have a hard time believing what you believe.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s work – Start with Why. The first and most important thing is to know your why. Why do you want to start, run and grow a business? Why is this important for you? Why you believe what you believe? When your why is stronger than your fear, things will get easier later.
- Really understand your audience. Whom are you helping? What is it they are struggling with? The more clarity you have about who, the better clarity you have to where you can make the most impact. If you think you can help everyone, you will be helping no one. Focus on where you can be most helpful and start from there.
- Remind yourself constantly that “Done is better than perfect.” There are so many of us trying to be perfect. We need to have the perfect words, perfect photo, perfect website, and perfect program in order to have a successful business. But the reality is more that if you want to be a tough leader, be the first one to share that thought. If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll never get to it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Behind every business, there’s a person. I would say don’t be afraid to show yourself in your business. This means be you, be real, and don’t be afraid to be different. Bring your personality into your business because it makes you much more relatable to your customers or clients. People want to do business with a person, not a company logo, website, or something to which they cannot relate or connect. Be personable and build relationships!
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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