Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Judy Thomson, Co-Owner and COO 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

I spent many years in the corporate world, first as a CA, CPA, then as a Director of Human Resources and Administration for companies in Canada and Asia. I developed the entrepreneurial bug when I joined the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer Railtours when it was a start-up company, and I was given the opportunity to build an onboard train experience and team from scratch.

When I returned to Canada from working five years in Asia, my long-time friend (and now business partner), Gayle Hallgren, approached me with the idea of writing a book on business networking. I intuitively knew the importance of building a network and found meeting new people and engaging them in conversation relatively easy. But I saw many people struggle with it. Our book, Work the Pond!, was published by Penguin Prentice Hall in New York, which was a huge accomplishment. What motivates me is knowing we are helping people step out of their comfort zone and feel more comfortable making a human connection in their day-to-day lives.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Hearing people tell us many years later how our training course, our book, or a presentation they attended changed their lives or had a positive impact on their career and how they do business. It is extremely gratifying to know that what we are doing is making a difference!

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

Balancing the amount of time spent working in the business versus on the business. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day details and not work on the strategic areas that build your business.

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

  1. Remember, you are not alone. Build a great support network to bounce ideas off and who will give you constructive and honest feedback. Then keep connected to that network. A light touch is sometimes all that is needed to keep your network alive.
  2. Find a good business partner whose skills complement yours so you can play to each other’s strengths and support each other.
  3. Know your worth and don’t undervalue the services you are giving.

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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