Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ian Brooks, founder and CEO of Rhodes Smith Consulting, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

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

Rhodes Smith is a personal and professional development firm that specializes in behavioral transformations. My clients are organizational leaders seeking to expand their leadership capabilities, impact their teams at work, or individuals seeking to transform who they are in life.

At its core, Rhodes Smith acknowledges that all clients have a unique path (Rhodes) forward that starts with being conscious of their direction and bringing depth to what they want. To transform, I help clients forge new behavioral patterns (similar to black “Smith’s”) over time through refined capabilities. I coach clients to realize their potential through targeted experiences and act as the bridge between where clients are and where they want to be.

Tell us about yourself

My desire to start my own business began when I wanted to extend my impact beyond the word “employment.” I have a passion for inspiring and building people. Starting my career in clinical psychology, then moving to develop leaders and individuals – along with my own personal transformations –I know what it takes to help individuals renew, reflect, reinvent, and reenter life as a better version of themselves.

I started Rhodes Smith with a plan to help others grow and achieve more than they set out. While it hasn’t always been easy nor fun, I’ve found gratitude in the process, and it has and continues to author a story of being an entrepreneur, coach, and have an impact on others I could not have imagined!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Perseverance. The “peaks” and “valleys” associated with being a business owner have been an emotionally exhausting exercise, especially when starting. The toll of constant business development, the experience of weekends becoming week extensions to break even, or balancing needing money with trusting to stay the course – each scenario offering an opportunity to take the offramp back to an “employee” versus “ownership.”

Over 13 years of running Rhodes Smith, I have experienced each of these and many more challenges. Yet and still, each experience has allowed me to grow and become the coach and business owner I needed to become for sustainment. And for staying the course, I am extremely proud of this accomplishment.

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

Scaling a business, without the hustle it took to start and maintain it, is one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner. Small businesses survive based on hard work and the intimacy created between making a product and servicing the clients who are receiving it. Consistency in these areas results in the organizational growth and demand that all owners seek.

Yet, as the growth arrived, I experienced that scaling based on a model of “hustle” that initiated the growth cannot be sustained. The long hours, exposure to inefficient processes, and attempting to balance executing my coaching product and leading employees resulted in burnout and frustration. I had to learn – as many small business owners must – that in order to scale, there is a transition point when the foundation in which the business started must pivot to a foundation that allows for growth. Such a pivot came at a cost, where I had to trust others with my brand, adjust my time in business development, and establish the infrastructure to bring in employees.

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

  1. Understand the difference between being an entrepreneur versus a con artist. While not all deals go thru, an entrepreneur believes in what they are selling. A con artist is only present for the purchase, not its impact. I have met a lot of people who claim to be business owners yet are con artists as their belief in what they are selling extends only to the money they make, but not the impact they have.
  2. Lead with integrity. Clients are buying your brand or you. It is important to be authentic to your voice, perspective, and values rather than catering to what you believe others will want. Be confident enough to stay true to your brand and the value you bring. When you feel pushed or frustrated in the process, reflect on how your behaviors align with your values and authenticity. When you make decisions and act based on your truth/ brand, that is when you will lead with integrity. And you will begin to see the fruits of your labor.
  3. Understand where you need support. Successful business owners know we don’t know everything there is to run a business. We are experts in certain areas, but running a business requires expertise in areas we’re less familiar with (e.g., business setup, taxes, payments, marketing, social media). Surround yourself with experts you trust to maximize your time and help your business grow.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Business ownership is a rewarding experience. Remain patient and steadfast in your intentions and what you are passionate about delivering, and use each experience to learn how to do your "it" better. Then who knows, you may wake up one day with a story and business you could not have imagined!

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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