Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mallory Brown, Founder of Mallory Speaks, located in Detroit, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a humanitarian, filmmaker, and speaker. I'm currently producing a round-the-world documentary series for women's empowerment called Walk A Mile. Based on the proverb, "Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes," I'm walking a marathon, one mile at a time, stepping into the shoes of impoverished women in 26 different countries. My films are made for the general public; however, I speak to private clients.
Companies, associations, and conferences hire me to inspire their audiences. I speak about empathy, leadership, and every individual's power to make a difference. The goal of my work, both on screen and on stage, is to inspire others to live a passionate, generous, and meaningful life.
Tell us about yourself
My career is truly the story of turning one's passion into a business. I was a backpacker exploring Southeast Asia and South America in my early twenties. Those trips sparked an insatiable curiosity about the world. At 24, I took the leap to become self-employed and started my first socially-conscious business. At 27, I created my second business, an impact storytelling studio. At 30, I began my professional speaking career. Now at 36, I'm in full stride. I am motivated each day by my original love of travel and profound gratitude that I'm able to create a life I love.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm most proud that I stayed true to my original vision after twelve years in business. As a young and arguably-naive entrepreneur, my dream was to travel the world and help the people I met. The path to doing that was not clear. The revenue stream was even less clear. I had never seen it modeled before, and as a solo business owner, I was often guided away from my dream and toward more mainstream careers. My biggest accomplishment is that I blazed my own path and made my own dreams come true. I have learned that longevity matters. Stick with it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Owning a business means making an enormous amount of decisions. Some are small, like designing a logo and choosing software. Others are massive, like hiring employees or pivoting product lines. My decision-making skills have improved with each passing year, but it's continually a learning process.
Here's a quick word of advice: make decisions fast. It's better to make a wrong decision and correct it later than to stall from indecision. Indecision kills dreams.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. They don't need to be in your exact line of business, in fact, it might be better if they aren't. Get comfortable asking for help and learning from your peers. Find inspiration from this network. Cheer for others and offer help too. Your business will grow faster, and you'll have friends along the way.
- You are in sales. Yep, even though you're "the founder" and not a salesperson, you are in sales. Learn to negotiate. Learn to ask for what you want. Learn how to set boundaries and expectations. Learn how to sell. Regardless of your title or industry, if you own a business, you are in sales.
- Don't worry so much. You can do this. You can figure it out. Everyone else is just figuring it out too.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Entrepreneurship is a commitment to self-growth. Be proud of yourself. You took your career into your own hands and dedicated it to something in which you believe. The decision to start your own business will shape every aspect of your life— your home, your health, your mindset, your relationships, and your finances. You will face your innermost desires and deepest fears, which will be the most challenging and rewarding experience. Good luck!
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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