Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mary I. Edwards, Owner of Coaching for Artists & Arts Organizations, located in San Rafael, CA, USA.

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

In my business, Coaching for Artists and Arts Organizations, I offer coaching and consulting services for creative people and organizations. My customers include a wide range of visual artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, designers, etc.) who want to reach the next level in their careers. I also help leaders who are working to make their arts organizations more effective.

Tell us about yourself

My business grew out of two satisfying previous careers. The first was in leadership roles in large corporations, and the second was as Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization. My mantra, "Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People," describes how I bring these two fields together to help creative people learn the business skills they need to succeed.

I'm motivated each day by the creative people who reach out to me for help from all over the world. While I have lots of clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have also worked with creatives in New York, Dubai, Australia, and Germany. I'm grateful for the technology that makes this possible.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I started the business in 2008, during an economic downturn when the concept of career coaches for artists was not even a thing. My biggest accomplishment was believing in this new business idea and not giving up until it took off.

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

While your business is young, you're a one-person band doing all the marketing and promotion as well as delivery of your product or service. You have to stay motivated and stick to your plan. Pace yourself so that you don't burn out before you realize your dreams.

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

First, have a business plan! It doesn't have to be elaborate (2 pages max), but you need to articulate your vision, mission, and strategies. I often help creative entrepreneurs prepare a simple business plan to guide their efforts.

Second, spend time and money on your website, and keep it up-to-date. Pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) so that you know you're reaching the people in your audience. A strong website will drive business to you.

Third, be patient! Nothing happens as fast as you'd like.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I think it's important that your business is clearly focused on a specific audience. If you're starting a new business, be sure that it is something that you're really good at and love to do so that you wake up excited about it!

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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