Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Barbara Koenig, Founder and CEO of Impact3 Leadership, located in Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business helps organizations develop leaders and teams that enable and support a flourishing culture where meaningful work and trust are built.
Tell us about yourself
I first started my business out of necessity. We had recently moved back from San Jose, CA, to be near family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and for my husband's job. I needed to find a job, but I also became pregnant with my third child. I did not think anyone would hire me pregnant, so I decided to launch my own training consulting company. I had worked for someone who had her own training consulting company in California and realized I could do the same. I had a friend who had started her consulting company, and she suggested I join my local chapter of ATD, an international training organization, and get on the board to get visibility. She also suggested a couple of books for me: The Consultants Calling and Flawless Consulting. I bought both these books, got on the board of my local ATD chapter, and found my first client at my high school reunion.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Learning to value the work that we do with the right partners and clients. It takes a while to learn how important a fit with your client is, as well as valuing your impact and pricing your work accordingly.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Making time to work ON your business - where are we going? Who are the right customers for us? How can we build stronger partnerships with existing customers, etc.? This requires hiring the right support and partnering with others, so you are not always working IN your business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get out and start versus analyzing and trying to get it perfect before you start. Talk to potential customers, especially those in your network, as well as those outside. Share what you are thinking for your business, and listen to their responses objectively. Don't be blindly in love with your idea but ask probing questions to find out where there is pull in the marketplace - a need that clients would be willing to PAY for to identify your initial product offering.
- Once you identify your initial product offering after having talked with lots of potential customers, find that first client to get started. This client often comes from the exploratory conversations you had in #1 above. Have confidence that whatever happens, you can learn, adapt and try again.
- It's not about you. If you can have the mindset of 'what would serve my client best,' and you keep communicating, even over-communicating with your client, asking for their feedback and adapting as needed, you will succeed.
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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