Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shannon Olson, President and Founder of Olson Educational Services, LLC., located in Lehi, UT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an educational consultant and offer consulting, coaching, and customized professional learning for schools and districts across the United States. I work with teachers, instructional coaches, Elementary Mathematics Specialists, and administrators to improve the teaching and learning of elementary mathematics for students.
One day I might present a session to a school faculty on the expectations for teaching place value across the grade levels, and the next day I might work with a team of coaches on math intervention strategies. The following week I might plan math lessons with each grade level team in a school, model those lessons in their classrooms, and then meet with the principal to discuss short and long-term goals for the school. I also offer online self-paced courses for educators.
My mission is to support system leaders in being confident to direct mathematics initiatives, teachers in being empowered to instruct with deep content knowledge and engaging practices, and students in being successful problem solvers and strong mathematical communicators.
Tell us about yourself
I loved math as a child and have specialized in elementary mathematics my entire career. I started off as a classroom teacher engaging in my own professional learning in mathematics. I quickly saw that implementing evidence-based practices such as using open-ended problem-solving and opportunities for student discourse sparked joy for my students in learning math. I took on leadership roles, became a mathematics coach, and took advantage of every opportunity to learn for myself and facilitate learning for others at the district, state, and university levels. I became the Elementary Mathematics Specialist for the Utah State Board of Education, where I served for about five years.
After taking a district opportunity, I realized I wanted to serve educators and educational systems in the ways they wanted to be served. My favorite part about serving as an independent educational consultant is having the flexibility and creativity to customize experiences for the educators I work with. You can learn more about my story here.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I love the ongoing relationships I gain with schools and districts. It’s so rewarding to facilitate a professional learning session for an audience on a given topic and then be invited back to address a broader audience or additional topics.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It can be challenging to balance where to invest time and resources. For example, I may have a great idea for a blog post to share with my broad community, but I have a pressing deadline to design a session for a specific client and have to put the idea on hold. Or, I may want to present at a specific conference, but the date conflicts with another commitment. I am constantly evaluating how to spend my time and resources to best serve my clients and community while meeting my business goals.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find your passion and find a way to make money doing it.
- Be clear on who your audience is and what you want to offer, but also be open to other opportunities that come your way.
- Be flexible and open to releasing attachment to the way you think things should go. Maybe there’s a better path than what you had originally planned.
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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