Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erin Diehl, Founder of improve it! Co., located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Improve it!, Is a professional development company that develops teams and leaders through play, improv, and experiential learning. Our clients are people people. We work with leaders within organizations to bring power skill training workshops to teams who need help developing a particular skill. We find the pain point within the team or organization and match their objective to one of our ten different power skill training options.
Tell us about yourself
I am a lifelong learner, edutainer, and #failfluencer who loves helping others find their AH-HAHA moments. Those are the eureka moments where the light bulb goes off, and you're laughing and having fun at the same time. Improve it! was created because I saw the skills I was learning in my improv classes and on-stage really transform me as a professional. I was working in business development at a recruiting firm when the idea came to me. I noticed that my improv training was helping me become a better listener, a more empathetic human, and a more present and focused employee, and I knew that this art form had the ability to transform the way others showed up at work.
Thus, improve it! was born, and now we have successfully transformed the lives of over 28,000 people with its healing powers!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving a global pandemic. Prior to 2020, improve it! was a completely in-person business. In a matter of weeks, we made all ten of our power skill training workshops completely virtual. We then what we call improv - "yes, anded" them with comedic videos as pre-work, and created e-learning courses as a post-workshop follow-up.
Through many failures, we created two new revenue streams. One is an offering called Laugh Break, where we provide virtual improv to break up monotonous virtual meetings. This was a huge success in 2020 and was even mentioned in Forbes. It gave my team of 23 hilarious improvisers the chance to perform and professionals who were stuck inside comedic relief while being stuck at home.
During this time, we also created two new keynotes and launched our podcast - improve it! Podcast, which is now a Top 1.5% Global Show. It was a crash course in resilience, focus, time management, innovation, and failing forward. I am proud to say that today we are better for it and are seeing the results of our hard work and efforts pay off.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I call myself a recovering perfectionist turned #failfluencer. One of the toughest lessons I had to learn was that failure is a gift. Without failure, we are not innovating, which means that we are stagnant in what we offer the world. Really leaning into my failures, embracing the suck, and finding the silver lining has been one of the hardest challenges to overcome.
Now, I allow myself to sit in discomfort when it happens, verify the lessons learned, figure out the next steps, and then move on to the next failure. (Because there WILL be another one)! We have a saying around improve it! - FAIL, YEAH. It has really helped me in some of the darkest moments to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep pushing forward.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The energy you put into yourself = the energy you give to others.
- The energy you give to others = the team, clients, and company culture you attract.
- The team, clients, and company culture you magnetize = your day-to-day.
Be very intentional about what you create.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Are you searching for new and innovative ways to engage your team and drive morale through the roof? Are you looking for different team-building exercises and off-site sessions that will increase connection, foster creativity, and completely transform and develop your team from the inside out? Have you been searching for a fun and unique way to create a company culture where all employees feel seen, heard, and valued instead of a place where people feel underwhelmed and underutilized? Then check out the improve it! Podcast where we use improv to develop ourselves personally and professionally.
In this podcast, we will dive deep into professional development, team building, effective communication, networking, presentation skills, leadership training, thinking quickly on your feet, and everything in between. We have helped everyone - from the Fortune 100s to small businesses transform their leadership and their people - through play.
So – grab your chicken hat. We are about to have FUN! Check it out wherever you listen to pods!
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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