Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Reema Patel, Founder of SOLUT1ON, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business provides executive coaching and strategy consulting. My consulting clients are mostly from the pharmaceutical space who need facilitation support in developing their yearly strategic plans. My executive coaching clients range from various industries that want to enhance their client's leadership and business effectiveness through strategic intelligence.
Tell us about yourself
After graduating from my master's in international management program in Europe, I had the opportunity to work for Bayer in the Asia Pacific internal consulting office, which allowed me to take on challenging projects in various parts of Asia. After that, I returned to Toronto and worked for a company focused on strategy consulting in the pharmaceutical space. I have always had a feeling inside that someday, I would run my own business, but I never knew what it would be. I hired a career coach after working in consulting for several years and was feeling like, is this it? We explored a lot of different career paths, but overall the common theme was helping others.
When starting my company, many of my consulting clients were moving into leadership roles but found very little guidance. They had to inspire a team and deliver on business needs while constantly being bombarded with meetings and having reactionary fires to put out. They needed long-term vision, structure, and focus to effectively coach their own teams and deliver on the business objectives. I created SOLUT1ON with the goal of unlocking their potential so that they could be successful in their role as a leader. And it started with one of my old clients reaching out for strategic planning support. And from there, the business grew through word of mouth from my clients.
My clients are at the heart of what I do. Whether they need a facilitator for top-level strategy meetings, important presentation documents prepared, or to talk through leadership development. My focus is on a personalized solution for their business and professional needs. I named SOLUT1ON (using a 1 instead of the i) because everyone has their own set of unique challenges which requires a tailored solution, and that is what I bring to each client I work with on every project.
As an executive Coach, I also practice what I preach, working on constantly developing myself, absorbing new leadership development materials, and writing my own thoughts down to share through my blog. Helping my clients shine and grow is what motivates me each day to do what I do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Before COVID, I would have said growing my business year over year and working with top brands and CEOs of multinational companies in Canada, the US, the UK, and China.
More recently, I would say surviving through COVID-19, maintaining enough revenues to cover my expenses, and not having to take any financial losses during that time. Having to sit through that uncertainty has been my biggest accomplishment to date.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The uncertainty of future revenues - where the next project is coming from or who the next client will be. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are busy times, and there are slow times, and more and more, I have come to appreciate the busy times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Stop thinking about it and just start - Start by landing your first client or first sale to help build momentum, then worry about registering your business and website. My business began because I had a client approach me, and that client then introduced me to my next client. I registered my business two months after my second client came on.
- Nurture your network - For my business growth, it has been all word of mouth from my network to new clients. Strong relationships have led to repeat business. Once I work with clients, they tend to return for more. My goal is to provide value in each and every interaction I have with my clients.
- Find a good accountant - Running my business through COVID was a real struggle, but having a knowledgeable accountant from the start to guide me in decision making in structuring my business, hitting my financial goals (both personally and professionally), finding me grants/loans and in managing the taxes I need to pay, has paid off in spades.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Over the years, I have had people come to me saying they are thinking of starting their own business, having that same feeling that they should be on their own. My advice is just to take one step each day to move your business forward, stop thinking about it and just start working towards your first sale. You don't have to have it all figured out.
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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