Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mikel Brand Oliver, Owner & Principal Consultant of Mpact Consultancy LLC, located in Waldorf, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our team helps mission-driven individuals, initiatives, and institutions define needs, design solutions, and multiply impact. We work with nonprofit and for-profit organizations and institutions for Higher education, collectives, small business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Tell us about yourself
I served in Public education as an elementary school teacher and instructional leader for thirteen years before starting my own business. As an educator, I often created, innovated, and curated different ways to help students and teachers understand abstract concepts in ways that were relatable and connected. In 2016, I founded an identity-affirming initiative called The Boys Institute for Black boys in grades 3-5 in Southeast D.C. I saw a need that wasn't being met for Black boys in my school and held focus groups with the staff to see what they were experiencing with our boys. Faculty and staff confirmed my hypothesis, and the work began to launch The Boys Institute. Taking an idea from seed to harvest was an incredible journey of trials and triumphs, and the experience tapped into my entrepreneurial side that was always there. Teaching is a people-first/heart-centered profession. I've taken all the skills I developed as an educator into my work at Mpact Consultancy. Every organization, institution, and initiative I partner with is a collection of people working to serve, impact, and influence people. Knowing that my work is in service of those I may never meet encourages me and reminds me to continue to push my clients to examine those intentionally excluded and most adversely impacted by exclusion and make systemic changes to disrupt inequity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is seeing my clients' growth and its impact on their relationship with themselves, their teams, their organizations, and the mission they're striving towards. Witnessing an organization's, team, or individual journey full of resistance, defensiveness, reception, belief, understanding, restoration, acceptance, action, and confidence is truly a gift. I've shared hard truths with many clients on projects, processes, and organizations they've led, founded and given decades of sweat equity. The conversations are challenging and enlightening, creating a trust that strengthens relationships and the work. It's the ultimate reward to see change for the good and be invited on the journey to support that transformation.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Trusting your treasure. It's easy to second-guess yourself and listen to the inner critic's thoughts that incite fear and doubt. Even with a history of success and impact and a phenomenal team, feelings of inadequacy are real. You wonder if you're moving in the right direction, casting the right vision, making the wisest decisions, considering the whole scope of intended and unintended consequences, and you can lose touch with the essential piece of what you do, yourself. I continue to grow in trusting my treasure, recognizing my creative process, what it entails, and what I need to be creative. I journal daily, which is extremely helpful and allows me to capture patterns in my life of how God moves and how I respond. I know I have gifts to offer and others have gifts to share, so even when fear and doubt make an appearance, I remind myself of my gifts to serve, edify and encourage and I do it scared.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your why and your values.
- Trust your treasure: You are 1 of 1. Believe in your gifts and what you have to offer as your anchor. Even if you pivot and adjust your idea, venture, plan, stay rooted in your gifts and talents and how you see solutions and pathways of impact and open to expand and change your view.
- Relationships are everything. Seek and develop trusted support. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
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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