Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Melanie Bell, Founder of Strategic Piece and Leaders Who Fiction, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Essentially I have two. One is my consultancy, Strategic Piece. We work with growth-stage B2B organizations on their marketing strategy and marketing technology stack, particularly when they are scaling up their marketing initiatives.
My other brand is Leaders Who Fiction, which I launched at the start of 2022. This is an online book community that creates a space and reason for people who want to develop and refine their leadership skills by reading fiction. If you want to be or are a leader - whether that's in the community or at work, or at home - you are welcome to join.
Tell us about yourself
I started the precursor to Strategic Piece in 2014 because I had worked with and at startups and believed that new software and technology provided these early-stage businesses a way to reach and better serve their customers. What we do has changed over time, but the core goal has stayed the same. We help businesses create the best customer experience possible so they can maximize revenue.
I came up with the idea for Leaders Who Fiction in the summer of 2021 after realizing that reading more and more novels had allowed me to show up as a better leader in my relationship with consulting clients. I needed an excuse to read more - and, selfishly, more opportunity to talk about books! It also aligned with comments that friends and colleagues had made to me - that they used to enjoy reading so much - but that they didn't have the energy to read at the end of the day, or they felt like if they did, they needed to read "real business books." Reading fiction is an underrated leadership development tactic, but a community and deadline give us permission to just do it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The fact that I'm almost eight years in and still doing it!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One hard thing that I face from time to time is feeling like I've been doing the same thing since 2014. You don't just start and grow a business as an entrepreneur; it's still a career. If you work at a company, there are opportunities for promotions or maybe working on a special project. That kind of thing is harder to replicate when you own the business. Make sure to give yourself new challenges and projects so that you don't get bored.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You don't have to figure everything out today, and you don't have to have it all figured out to make the next right move.
- Work on yourself. Entrepreneurship and leadership are amazing opportunities for personal growth. But, you still have a business to run, so don't let this become a way to procrastinate.
- Build relationships with other entrepreneurs. Sometimes people who haven't done it won't get it, and you need to know people who do get it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Entrepreneurship is.... oh, so many things - amazing and hard and messy and exhilarating. When I was first starting, my now-husband said, "if you're going to do this, you have to really want it." And I did, but I still underestimated just how badly I needed to want it. So do it if you want. But also, it's okay if this isn't the right path for you - or if now isn't the right time. There is nothing deficient or wrong with you.
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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