Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dominique Benson, Owner of Engaged Minds Academy, located in Spring, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a virtual tutoring company specializing in math and science for students of all ages, including adult learners. Our core philosophy revolves around a growth mindset. If a student's confidence is increased, it will be reflected in their grades. We build on enhancing each student's skills to develop them into becoming better students overall. We focus on determining what works for each student instead of treating each student the same.
We offer SAT/ACT diagnostic exams to determine which test a student will score higher on and a detailed learning style assessment that suggests the best study environment and skills set for each student.
Tell us about yourself
In the beginning, I was a typical "hobby" tutor and had no desire to expand until I couldn't take on more clients. When I finally maxed out my client load and debated on expanding, the COVID shutdown happened, so I had to pivot. Prior to the shutdown, I had awesome clients that encouraged me to expand, but it took the shutdown for me to realize that it was truly time. As the spring of 2020 wreaked havoc, it made me realize that I wanted to reach more than a few students. I saw a lot of students struggling to make it through their math and science classes, and all I wanted to do was help. When I realized that there was no tutoring company that focused on STEM topics, I created it. By the fall of 2020, I will become a true small business owner. I made it my goal to teach students that there is no need to be afraid of math and science. I'm motivated by every student who "hated math/science" only to pick a major within STEM.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I started my business within the homeschooling community. One of my beloved students just informed me that she decided to major in the STEM field. This is a student that prefers dance and theatre over anything educational. She despised everything related to science, but I inspired her to take a chance and try something different. I was shocked and ecstatic that she chose geology as her major. It was one of the most gratifying experiences to know that I helped instill a love of science in a student that ran away from it. Then she pulled my heart strings by asking if I would continue to work with her through college. I would be honored to help her in the next stage of her educational goals, especially after watching her navigate high school, dual credit courses, jobs, and family obligations.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is staying motivated when the next steps are unclear. As a business owner, there are times that you play every role in the company, and it can be extremely frustrating. There is no other person to balance out your thoughts and feelings in the midst of a difficult client or situation. It takes time and a lot of introspection to know who and when to ask for help from those more experienced in different aspects of the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My first tip is to surround yourself with other business owners because they understand the good and stressful aspects of becoming a business owner. It's also extremely important to stay up to date on networking practices by listening to podcasts and/or reading books about networking and business. Lastly, when you are in growth mode, outsource tasks that can be completed by others so that you can focus on working on the business instead of the minor details.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being a business owner is not for everyone, but when or if you decide to go for it, then give it all that you can! That may mean starting out slow by using it as a hobby or doing a complete life change. Either way is fine because everyone's journey is different and should be celebrated.
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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