Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Thibodaux, Founder of JMT Speaks, LLC., located in Essex Fells, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a professional speaker and writer who helps professionals identify and embrace their authentic selves, so they lead successful personal and professional lives. I also focus on quieting the imposter voice, avoiding burnout, combating perfectionism, and increasing productivity.
Tell us about yourself
I founded JMT Speaks to create a platform to share my story and inspire others. I decided I wanted to be a partner at a law firm when I was 15 years old. I then embarked on a nearly two-decade quest to achieve that goal and did so when I was 34 years old. I never thought I'd be happier or prouder. But shortly after achieving my dream, I realized I was incredibly unhappy. I couldn't imagine practicing law for the next three decades of my life. I had become cynical, gotten out of touch with my core values, and prioritized achievement over all else. I slowly realized that just because I was good at doing something didn't mean I had to do it forever. When I realized it was time to go, I was scared to leave — and scared to stay.
I found the courage to move on when I got to know myself, redefined success, let go of what others thought about me, and valued vulnerability. In other words, I embraced authenticity. I had to ditch the plan to find myself again. That's why I started my own business. I want to motivate others to be themselves and to make the change they're scared to make -- because if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Becoming a parent gave me the push I needed to make a change, and it remains the motivator for why I do what I do. I want my son to grow up in a world where he can be his true self and value all that authenticity means, including honesty, vulnerability, and trustworthiness.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I only ever dreamed of being a lawyer and a partner at a law firm, so to be honest, becoming an entrepreneur is my biggest accomplishment! My proudest day was January 30, 2020, which was when I announced JMT Speaks and my website, www.jmtspeaks.com, to the world. I had to overcome the fear of judgment and failure to get to that point. Since then, it's been a blur and an absolute joy ride.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There really isn't any time off when you're an entrepreneur — unless you force yourself to really take a break. I have a busy day job that I love, so I work on JMT Speaks in the early mornings and late nights. (I made a conscious decision to spend weekends with my family and avoid working.) It's both exhausting and exhilarating.
In the same vein — and no matter how many hours I spend working on JMT Speaks each day — one of the hardest parts is working smarter instead of harder. There are so many things I want to do with the business, but as a solo entrepreneur, I learned to prioritize pretty quickly.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Hire a business coach. I started working with my business coach nearly one year before I officially launched my business. Almost four years later, her guidance, advice, and energy guided me every step of the way.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. From harnessing my network (that is, asking for support and help!) to pitching myself to prospective clients, I've found myself doing a lot of things that were outside of my comfort zone. But I've also learned that discomfort yields change and growth.
- Invest in help when you need it. I realized pretty quickly that website design was not my strong suit — and trying to figure it out was a stressful time suck. I retained a designer to assist with building my website and promotional materials. This allowed me to spend time creating content and learn just enough to edit the content myself as needed.
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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