Interested in starting your entrepreneurial journey in development, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kelly Cooper, founder, and CEO of Centre for Social Intelligence, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Kelly is the author of LEAD THE CHANGE: The Competitive Advantage of Gender Diversity and Inclusion.
Tell us all about your business...
I help executives in any sector understand the value proposition of diversity and inclusion and provide a trusted blueprint on how to take action. It's more accessible and more straightforward than they think.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
My personality is what has propelled me to be an entrepreneur. I have a ton of energy, endless ideas and genuinely enjoy working with all kinds of people. I like to have fun while making a difference, which always surprises the executives I work with, I think - they expect some dull talk about diversity and inclusion. Still, by the time we finish our first discussion, they are empowered to take action and understand how rewarding it is, both economically and socially, and they are inspired. What motivates me is seeing my work making a difference in the world. If anyone ever questions the impact one person can make, they shouldn't because one person really can make positive changes for current and future generations.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think of late, and it would have to be authoring my book entitled "Lead the Change - The Competitive Advantage of Gender Diversity and Inclusion." It has helped executives quickly understand why they need to take action and lays out a path for them to shine while doing so. It's fantastic to take an organization's senior team from doing nothing on this issue to fully embracing it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
The hardest thing is that you have to do everything by yourself at the start. You can't afford staff initially, so you have to work double to hunt and gather work. Then there's the finances and marketing. There's a lot involved, and it's not for the faint of heart. But it's great to be your boss, to choose what you want to work on and who you want to work with. That motivated me to be an entrepreneur.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
- Are you passionate about the line of work you want to pursue as an entrepreneur? Passion is what drives you to work longer hours. This can't be a clock in and out type thing. You have to set some boundaries on your hours and not let it fully consume your life.
- You need to carve out 20% of your time each week to marketing, even if you landed work. This translates to keeping up your network, posting things on social media, and attending business events.
- Keep current with your topic - read all that crosses your desk, so you are up-to-date and able to demonstrate you are on top of things with current and potential clients.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you're in a relationship, be sure to explain to your partner that you will need their support and understanding with the amount of time you invest at the beginning of your start-up. By doing so, you have armored both of you with the sense of "we're in this together." The level of support you feel is even stronger with getting started.
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email email@example.com, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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