Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annemarie Fowler, Founder of Speak Confident English, located in Monterey, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm the founder of Speak Confident English and the creator of Fluency School, as well as the Confident Women Community, where I help women become confident and fluent in English. My mission is to empower every woman to get the confidence she wants for her life and work in English — no matter where she was born, where she lives now, or how shy or stuck she feels — so she can advance in her career and feel comfortable in an English-speaking environment.
Tell us about yourself
I started my teaching career over 20 years ago at a school for women in Peshawar, Pakistan. Since then, I have regularly met women who are too nervous about sharing their expertise in English. Women who lose job opportunities due to fear of speaking English. Women who feel uncomfortable in their new English-speaking home and feel stressed, even with something seemingly easy such as going to the grocery store. And I get it. I know what it's like to need a second language but feel lost, stuck, lonely, and alone. Studying for years but unable to speak. This happened to me when my husband and I moved to France for his work. While there, even as a naturally shy, introverted language speaker, I discovered how to become a clear, confident, and fluent speaker. I'm passionate about sharing my strategies to help women express themselves easily in English.
Recently, a student shared that if she had to pick a word for how she feels now - in English - "it would be freedom. Free to work in English. Free to speak. Free to communicate." Another shared that she no longer needs a translator to talk to teachers at her daughter's school. Those are the stories that motivate me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting and keeping a business going is the biggest challenge I've ever experienced. Far more difficult than I would have ever expected. The fact that I've been doing it since 2014 is an accomplishment. However, my biggest accomplishment is hearing my students say, "I don't feel nervous anymore" or "I can finally express myself in English." Every time I hear those comments, I think I've made it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Certainly, maintaining work/life balance is a challenge. That was particularly true in the beginning, and I still struggle. It's a constant effort.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
That is a great question. The first three things that come to mind are:
- Have someone who has your back and will support you through the ups and downs. It might be someone in your personal life or someone you meet in a business support group or mastermind group. Find that person for you.
- Know who you are and be true to that person. That is terribly cliché. But it's also true. Just because someone else in your field is doing X, it doesn't mean you have to, too, especially if you don't want to or if it doesn't feel genuine. It's easy to get caught up in what you see on social media or what you hear at a conference. But it isn't always the right thing for you or, more importantly, the people you serve.
- Learn to become resilient if you're not already. There will be failures. But if you can get through them, what you find will likely be far better and more meaningful than you ever expected.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.