Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maya Ollson, Founder of Kokopella High Touch Outplacement, located in Blairstown, NJ, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Kokopella High Touch Outplacement is an outplacement company that supports corporations that are downsizing. We work with their employees, doing their resumes and cover letters, teaching them how to conduct an effective job search, how to interview, network, and negotiate. We also work with individuals who are in transition and need great job search support.

We are known for our high touch, providing ample personalized services, rather than automated services, to ensure that our clients land another great job as quickly as possible. We also coach would-be entrepreneurs, helping them conceptualize their business, develop business and marketing plans, and coach them through the ups and downs of running a business.

Tell us about yourself

I knew that I wanted to run my own business back in my 20s, and I had run a successful training and development company that required a lot of travel. Then I became a mother, and when my 7-year-old said to me just before leaving on a trip, "Mommy, how many days until you're home again?" that changed everything. I carved out a slice of my business, Career Services, that I could provide to clients without requiring travel. Viola! Kokopella was born!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment occurs each week when I/we make a difference in a job seeker's life. We speed them along so that they land a job sooner, putting money in their pocket. We create a great resume for them that boosts their confidence to explain to the employer how they can help.

We help them negotiate an offer, getting more and a signing bonus. We make a difference in the lives of candidates each week. For business owners, I enjoy helping them make decisions that will enhance their business and make them more successful. Very satisfying!

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

You have to have the personality to deal with the uncertainty of running your own business - will we make enough money to run the business, keep top-quality staff to provide excellent services, and handle the ebb and flow of multiple client projects at once? You have to be resilient, believe in yourself, and that you will prevail!

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

Three tips for entrepreneurs:

  1. Do your homework - What is your product and service, and how is it different from others? Who is your customer, and how will you reach them? Why should they buy from you?
  2. Hire a Business coach to help you be successful. It's important to understand your blind spots.
  3. It usually takes 1-2 years to become successful, sometimes even 5 years, so have at least a first year of income saved to support you and your family during the first and usually lean year.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I love providing services to our clients, companies, and clients. What's better than making a positive difference in the lives of others? I smile every day!

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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