Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jillian Kruschell, CEO of Inclusion by Libra, located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Inclusion by Libra is a Calgary-based, women-owned consulting firm that serves Canadian organizations by helping them develop and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and services.
We primarily work with small to medium-sized organizations, with a focus on startups and scaleups. We believe in the importance of integrating DEI into an organization's people policies and processes from the earliest stage possible because having that priority will ensure it is intentionally integrated into your workplace culture. We recognize the challenges large companies are facing to make a meaningful change when it comes to DEI.
We want to be involved with like-minded entrepreneurs who are building the mega-companies of the future to impact meaningful change in how we engage with our workforce. We know that many startups don't have the resources to hire full-time DEI or even HR resources at the outset, so we make our services available on an affordable and as-needed basis to meet them where they're at. We help them build out structure and process that doesn't inhibit the entrepreneurial requirement to be nimble but can scale with them and deliver efficiencies along the way.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and spent ten years in the early days of my career working for my Dad in a business he owned. I watched that business grow significantly and had the opportunity to work in many different functions as I developed my skills. This experience opened my eyes to how meaningful it can be to build something of your own and the challenging, cross-functional skillsets that entrepreneurs need to have.
I then spent two years working in a large corporation. I struggled with the concept of being an insignificant cog in a large machine. I saw missed opportunities and short-sighted business decisions. I recognized that I couldn't impact meaningful change on an organizational level. I was a casualty of mass layoffs in the early days of COVID. It became clear that an entrepreneurial career was the best way for me to realize my potential, take control of my destiny, and utilize my skills.
Every day I am so proud of what I have built and learned in the time since I went out on my own. This decision has enabled me to pursue work that I am truly passionate about and gives me the opportunity to make a meaningful impact.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Every client that I have the chance to work with is a valued opportunity. When you build a company from nothing, you realize that you are not entitled to success - you have to create it. It took me six months to sign my first client when Libra was new. Since then, every opportunity we get to work with a new organization has been another step down a path that I am incredibly grateful to be on.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You have to be ready to put yourself out there and sell. When you build something from nothing, your clients aren't even aware that you exist. You can't sit around and wait for them to find you. It can be really intimidating to reach out to complete strangers and pitch your business - but if you don't have clients, you don't have revenue, and you don't have a business. Sales is a non-negotiable part of being an entrepreneur.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The difference between success and failure as an entrepreneur is perseverance. It is going to be difficult, and it probably won't happen the way you expect it to. Don't give up!
- Be adaptable and never stop learning. Take any failures you experience as an opportunity to improve. If something you're doing isn't working, don't hesitate to pivot and try something else.
- Network like crazy. Talk to new people every week and build meaningful relationships. They might end up being your client, or they might refer your business, or maybe they will give you a piece of advice that will change the course of your career. Either way, having a strong network of people who respect you is a worthwhile investment.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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