Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Danielle Davis, Founder of Liberated Development, located in Washington, DC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Liberated Development is a personal, professional, and organizational development company that facilitates the growth of leaders, teams, and dreams. We do this primarily through coaching, facilitation, and strategic advising.
Our customers are leaders at organizations who are ready to explore what it means to operate from a place that challenges the dominant cultural norms that are expected and embody a way of being that is more centered on liberation and agency - for themselves and their teams.
Tell us about yourself
What first got me started working on the business was the need. After having the same conversation with multiple leaders at various levels across different organizations, it became clear to me that there was a very present and widespread need for those in leadership to truly have a space to explore their innate leadership in an intentional way.
All of us had been given a certain way to lead. That actually wasn't true leadership, but more so followership of what we were told leadership was. At the time, I had done a lot of formal and informal unpacking, unlearning, and relearning of this that had led me to a leadership and culture practice that felt liberating to me, which I realized, more and more, was rare.
So as I began to share, consult, and advise more in one-off situations, I started to become more intentional about it. That's really how the business started. And my motivation continues to be my partners (AKA "clients"). Every time they shed a piece of the universal "leadership script" and assume more power over how they lead, I am reminded of why LD exists.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is that I have an active and intentional support system on this journey. Starting a business is hard, and it can be lonely. As an introvert, it would have been easy for me to go at this alone and not build a community of folx who support my work, serve as accountability partners, connect me with resources, etc. There is no way I could have sustained LD this long without a community of supporters who I genuinely lean on and ask for help. My biggest accomplishment is that I wasn't too proud to ask for that.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Separating yourself from the business -- or maybe even deciding if you want to. For some people, it may not be an issue. But for me, it is important to keep my identity as Danielle. While, yes, this business is something that I created, it isn't me. I work hard not to have my entire identity as a person wrapped up in LD's identity as a business. That's important to me because if this business ever goes away, I don't want Danielle to no longer be connected to Danielle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not try to do it all. Identify the areas that are hard for you or aren't the best use of your time to do, and ask for help. Even getting help on small tasks makes a world of difference when you are trying to do all of the things.
- Create systems early. If you are starting off solo, it's easy not to have a system for something since it's all in your head and you're the only one doing it, but that will make your life so much harder than it has to be. The more you can automate and/or create a system for your work, the more time (and stress) you will save yourself later.
- Be flexible. What you think in year one will likely be very different than what you think in year three. If your message changes, your offerings change, your audience changes, be open to that. Part of growing a business means that you are building on what's working (for you and for your customers). So be flexible enough that you can see what emerges and adjust accordingly.
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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