Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessie Peck Martin, M.Ed., founder of Elevated Admissions, located in Branchville, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Helping students articulate their why?! We are an educational consultancy that works with teens and their families to navigate the complexities of applying for and being admitted into college. Our tagline is SANE PARENTS, EMPOWERED STUDENTS, PROVEN RESULTS. That pretty much sums up our “why?” We work with a wide variety of students from the U.S. and abroad. We also support many winter sports student-athletes.
Tell us about yourself
I spent about 25 years in education, educational publishing, and youth advocacy prior to launching my practice. The harrowing experience of having our oldest child apply to college made me want to help others navigate the experience with less drama! Generally speaking, people don’t understand how complex the admissions process has become. However, once the words “admissions consultant” are coupled with “increase your chances,” the receptiveness factor increases by multiples. Our college application process offers a unique opportunity for teens to take an authentic measure of who they are and begin to articulate their personal “why?” and that understanding can have a dramatic effect on their trajectory.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There’s a difference between showing up with the intention of adding value for a student or client and trying to prove the value of your service to them. We all have moments of imposter syndrome, and I don’t feel that anymore, at least not very often. When I first started, I would wake up in a cold sweat, wondering if my business was ever going to get off the ground, and it sometimes felt as if I was just begging people to hire me. Now that I’ve proven to others and to myself that what I offer has genuine value and that my process works, my insecurities have diminished, and I find that I am able to show up for my students and clients more fully.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Balance. There is no definitive line between work and the other aspects of my life. I have four children and work with many friends, and I’m used to overscheduling myself and doing whatever it takes to “accommodate” everyone. Over the last couple of years, I began to tease apart how I felt operating with my “hair on fire” approach compared to how I felt when I planned my weeks out and let someone wait if need be. The latter is a better experience for everyone, including me, so I am learning to prioritize. Taking time just to relax, go to a yoga class or hang out with a friend is also really important to recharge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Your “unique selling proposition” (USP) is business jargon for “what do you have to offer that’s unique,” i.e., how can you deliver a solution to your client or customer’s problem in a new way? If this is inextricably linked with your inherent “why?” then you’ll have the motivation and drive to continue to improve your offerings—as well as yourself.
- You don’t have to know everything about what you’re doing before starting a business. You have to know enough to add value, but if you wait until you feel you “know enough,” you’ll likely never launch.
- Outsource or hire complementary talent. We all have sweet spots and Achilles heels. Figure out what aspects of your business you can (and perhaps should) offload, and do so when you can afford it. This will open up your time to both do what you love and focus on the big-picture strategy for your business.
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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