Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mary Jo Mullen, CEO of Advantage Strategy Consulting, Inc., located in Lisle, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a leadership coach focused on supporting women in leadership positions or emerging as leaders in transforming their approach to become inspirational leaders. I help these women lead with confidence and ease, build a high-performing team, and inspire results.
Tell us about yourself
I started out as an engineer focused on water resources and flooding. I spent 10 years of my career working at FEMA in the National Flood Insurance Program - which gave me an amazing opportunity to use my engineering knowledge, manage large programs, and work with multi-discipline teams. After spending a few years as a VP at an engineering firm responsible for project delivery, I started my business to help others succeed as leaders. Making an impact on other people's lives is really what keeps me going; my goal is that this work will enable more women to reach and excel in executive positions, especially in industries like engineering that are still male-dominated.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is doing what I love every day and being paid to do it. I'm so blessed to be able to use my knowledge and experience to help others succeed and enjoy every minute of it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me is the unknown. When one project slows down, I may not know exactly where the revenue will come from to make up for it. Or I may have no potential clients one week and a dozen the next. I'm someone that is always planning and looking forward, and not being able to predict some of this can feel unsettling.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be bold. If you dream big, you will accomplish much more than if you hope just to make it by. Also, owning a business is a totally different kind of risk, so you have to be a little bold and gutsy to make that leap.
- Follow your passion. It took me some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do as an entrepreneur and a coach. There are a lot of things that I can do well and teach others to do, but not all of them get me up in the morning ready to dive into my work.
- Consider what systems and support you need. Right off the bat, you won't be able to afford any help, but eventually, you may need a virtual assistant to take tasks off your plate so you can focus on making that money. Also, I'm a total process geek, so think about what processes and systems you need - accounting, contracts, onboarding a new client, whatever it may be. Get that figured out so you can be efficient and focus on what you love and what brings in the cash.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love working for myself - I don't think I could ever go back to working for someone else long-term. While there are risks to owning a business, even if it's just yourself, the rewards are so completely worth it! I have so much more flexibility for myself and my family; I love 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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