Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mandy Froehlich, Founder of Mandy Froehlich Education Consulting, LLC., located in Kaukauna, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a consultant. I work in education and private sector organizations on burnout, professional disengagement, and mental health. Because my background is in technology, I also provide educational technology solutions to educational companies and organizations, including professional learning, branding for technology departments, and instructional/leadership coaching.
Tell us about yourself
For a bit of background, I started out doing random Edtech presentations for conferences. I caught the presenting bug after a presentation on personalized professional learning, and one of the participants told me that they changed their entire way of offering professional learning to their teachers because of what they learned in my session. It sold me on this work. I knew that I changed their practice which made the professional learning experiences better for teachers, which changed their practices with students, and the knowledge that what I said was far-reaching was amazing. For me, it has always been about supporting teachers so they can best support students. That was obvious very early on in my work and later became the crux of my core beliefs as I worked through what I really believed in education. Now, in the area of edtech, I focus on blended learning, synchronous and asynchronous course design, technology integration, innovative pedagogy, and many other areas that connect, like instructional coaching, leadership coaching, technology department rebranding, etc.
At this same time, I also became passionate about educator mental health. It wasn't that I didn't believe that student mental health was also important, but I felt in my core that we were sacrificing teachers in favor of students, and that also felt wrong. I believed that by supporting the teachers' mental health, we could only improve their teaching and, therefore, the student's learning, and so that became my focus. Also, I believe that because educators enter the profession as a calling, they deserve to be taken care of as humans and respected so much more than they are. These realizations came about nine years ago and obviously are more focused on today.
However, back then, they were not, and I consider myself a trailblazer in this area because I was speaking on it 1) when nobody else was and 2) when people were telling me to stop. It was highly stigmatized then. It still is. We are willing to talk about self-care and mental health but rarely willing to go into the space where I am: mental health issues. We may hover around burnout because that still feels safe but duck out of conversations about CPTSD that is caused by institutional racism and what that looks like for teachers of color in our schools.
We don't want to address depression and anxiety because so many people with these afflictions in teaching are high functioning, and so it feels less important unless they have an "episode." An offshoot of discussing mental health also understanding SEL and trauma for both educators and students. My job, my own calling, has been to try to destigmatize these ideas and provide districts with realistic and holistic, sustainable program shifts in their entire ecosystems to support teachers and administrators in leaning into their humans, healing, and being happier people. A side benefit of that is to be a happier professional, so it's a win all around.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think that the biggest accomplishment as a business owner is BEING a business owner who is able to sustain my family financially while doing what I love to do. Because I am originally a part of the public sector and haven't had an official business degree, I had to learn everything on my own through research and watching other successful businesses.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
At first, I thought that being a business owner was going to be the hardest part of owning a business, but instead, it's actually helping other people around me understand that I own a business, and creating boundaries around my work and time can be difficult when people are consistently asking for work to be done for free. This is an area that I still struggle with and need to work on as, personally, I'm a people pleaser, so I'm constantly fighting against the urge to say yes just because I can, even though I know that when I put time into one space, other spaces suffer.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Read books on branding, marketing, running a business, and more books on your expertise. You should know exponentially more about your third year of running a business in consulting than you do your first.
- Define your boundaries for work and stick to them, no matter the difficult conversations that will inevitably ensue because of it.
- Network. Constantly. You may be surprised where you find opportunities to grow your business and people to connect with.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am currently working on blog posts on becoming a consultant that can be found on www.mandyfroehlich.com.
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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