Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Daniel Bain, Owner of Elm Academy, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

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

Elm Academy is an online test preparation company. Currently, our target audience is children who are preparing for standardized tests, though technically, it's their parents who are our customers. We have detailed online courses that include practice tests, quizzes, lessons, and study guides that include tips for parents of young children.

Tell us about yourself

I worked for a test preparation company for four years early on in my career. I learned a lot about every part of the industry, from developing educational materials to marketing our products to communicating with parents. I always enjoyed hearing back from happy parents whose children did well on whatever test they took.

There were still gaps in the products we offered and the industry in general that I felt I could fill by starting my own company. Standardized tests can be stressful and just generally unpleasant, so it feels good knowing I'm helping people face them with confidence.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My first product review. Getting people to write reviews is hard! But it's a great feeling once they do. The first review one of our products received was unprompted and extremely positive. After putting in the time to build up the business, finally getting that feedback from a real customer was such a great feeling.

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

When you're working for another person or company, you can check out from time to time. Evenings, weekends, extended're able to set boundaries for yourself and still know that your job and your salary will be there for you when you get back.

Running your own business doesn't come with that luxury, so you're never really off the clock. If your website crashes while you're on vacation, then you have to put your vacation on hold. There's no salary waiting for you if your business struggles for a whole month. The flexibility of being your own boss is great, but it also means your boss is joining you every weekend, on every vacation, and every time you go to the movies.

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

Be flexible. Things are not always going to go your way, so you have to be able to be OK with that. You'll have to compromise on things. You'll have to cut costs and save money. You'll have to work late nights and weekends. You'll have to settle for "good enough" most of the time if you're lucky.

You'll have to learn a lot of new skills, and you'll have to be OK with being bad at some of them. I've worn many hats along the way, and suffice it to say, I've worn some better than others. But it's all part of the process, and eventually, you'll end up with the biggest and best-fitting hat(you get what I mean).

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I promise that all of the analogy questions in our courses are very good, despite my failed analogy.

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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