Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gayle Hallgren, Co-Owner of Shepa Learning Company, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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

Shepa Learning is a training and development company that teaches people the skills to feel confident about networking and see its value in both work and life. We do this through our conference keynotes, workshops, presentations, live webinars, and Positive Networking® online training program. Shepa is a Tibetan term for consciousness or awareness. And that is our goal, to raise people’s awareness of the opportunities around them every day to build their network, one of the most valuable assets they have in their life. Our customers are corporate clients, professionals, business associations, women’s networks, university students, and individuals.

Tell us about yourself

My business partner, Judy Thomson, and I started teaching these skills over two decades ago. We knew there was a need to give people these skills because:

  1. Most people have anxiety around networking.
  2. Building a network is not given the importance it should have, as everything in life happens because of ‘people.’ As Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, says, “Opportunities don’t float like clouds, they are firmly attached to people. If you are looking for an opportunity, you are really looking for a person.”
  3. Once someone learns the tactical and practical skills of networking, they become good at it, and yes, that includes introverts.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

It is the feedback we get from people who take our courses, telling us how it has impacted their lives. It makes it a very, very meaningful work.

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

Selling your products or your services. There are so many channels, and the sales cycle can be long, so getting people’s attention can be hard. We feel people are even busier than before the pandemic. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can get the attention of decision-makers who are completely swamped. They can’t add one more thing to their to-do list.

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

  1. Build your business for the future. While no one has a crystal ball, there are trends and innovations that are changing the way we work and live. Create a product for the future… the near future. And keep transforming it for our rapidly changing world.
  2. Build something with all stakeholders in mind and think globally of your impacts, whether in the manufacturing process to end-user products or services.
  3. Create something that leverages diversity and creates a kind, inclusive, and fearless team. Lead by example—really!

Where can people find you and your business?

Online Training Program:

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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