Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in professional development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Trent Rhodes, founder of MasterLearn, located in Jersey City, NJ, USA.

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

MasterLearn is a coaching business focused on career development and mind performance education. The two realms support professionals’ ability to hone what I call "meta-skills,” those foundational capabilities that underly more tangible skills for careers and life.

Clients tend to be knowledge seekers who desire personal and professional growth but may not have a solid direction. They enjoy learning and possess an intuition there’s more to life for exploration. They have an appetite for development and knowing their inner workings.

This awareness may lead them to try many career pathways, collecting multiple skills before arriving at the aha moment. They may be career changers, professionals who want to commit to a new industry and need the support for total immersion into a new career identity. That’s where MasterLearn comes in. With practical career support merged with mind cultivation, clients are equipped to handle future opportunities with elegance and power.

Tell us about yourself

I observed a pattern early in life. When I learned something, the knowledge was quickly implemented to assist others. I would have conversations after reading a book, for example, where a situation or resource might be applicable at that moment, and I’d be able to share it and add value to friends and contacts.

Acknowledgment of this phenomenon indicated to me a universal principle: cultivating the self inevitably results in value creation for others. The better I become, the better my creations and service. Influenced by 29 years of martial arts training and 7+ in career coaching, I arrived at the name MasterLearn. As an autodidact (a self-initiated learner) at heart, I see one of the main solutions for our civilizations on the planet is not just education but the mastery of learning. Learning how to learn, learning about ourselves, and applying what was learned.

Early in my career, before career coaching, I had many conversations with students about their job trajectories. Often the dialogue would include this pendulum swing between self-development and job searching. Over the years, I realized there was an interdependent relationship between how people perceived their careers and how well they understood themselves.

Passion for this work sources from a sense of personal mission to offer coaching experiences and creations that can help people elevate, one individual at a time.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Thus far, I must say it’s the collective knowledge gained about business, the responsibility that comes with handling operations from administration, sales, and marketing, and having a consistent vision of offering a uniquely-quality service. I find the business mind to be reflective of handling other realms in living, from family to working in organizational life.

Another would be developing a reputation where organic referrals based on reputation have become a client channel.

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

I’d say it’s digesting the fact that what you have to offer won’t immediately be received by your target audience. When you write a piece, create a product, or offer an experience, you realize rather quickly that it takes time for your work to develop momentum and audience receptivity. Instead of chasing fast gains, you learn to build slow-yet-consistent value creation.

YouTube ads and the like may paint the picture of overnight success, but sustainable, grounded success actually takes time. Having a business is a significant test in delayed gratification and resilience to continue developing.

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

  1. Develop and grow to love learning, especially about your niche. Invest in yourself. Attend conferences, read books, watch videos, and discover peers within your space. The knowledge and skills compound and intertwine in ways that augment your growth. There’s no room for a mind that thinks it doesn’t need to consistently gain knowledge.
  2. Be willing to experiment to observe what works and what doesn’t. One way to understand your market is to test it.
  3. This skill tends to be ignored out of fear or neglect, become good at sales. The skill set includes persuasion, persistence, empathy, and understanding of the basic foundation of value exchange among people.
  4. Develop a plan to self-inventory on a periodic schedule. This means understanding your strengths, improvement areas, opportunities, and threats as finely tuned as possible. See yourself as a mini-business operation that needs a strategic development plan. The more you know yourself, the more confidence you radiate, and that will imbue everything you touch, including your clients.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

What’s clear from the current global environment is the need for more people to acquire new skills and start businesses. Even if you work in an organization, it doesn’t mean you’re excluded from creating value and serving people beyond it.

In a business, whether it’s solopreneurship, a corporation, or freelance, you develop a symbiotic relationship between providing a quality product service to people and your own self-cultivation.

The better you become, the better your offer becomes, the better your customers are for investing in what you offer. That cycle repeats.

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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