Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jamie McKinney, Author of Speak Up, Sister!, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am thrilled to share the mission that I wholeheartedly embrace every single day - to empower emerging women leaders and executives to ditch doubts, speak up, and achieve the careers they deserve and desire. As a confidence and leadership coach, speaker, and author, I am a proud champion of women, who inspires and motivates them to unleash their full potential, find their unique voices, speak their minds, and express themselves with authenticity, executive presence, and poise. My clients are smart and savvy women in the corporate world, who are determined to hone their "soft skills," or as we call them here, their strong skills. While technical acumen and company knowledge can certainly earn you a seat at the table, it's the ability to communicate effectively and confidently that enables you to make a lasting impact and truly thrive in your career.
Tell us about yourself
It started with a magazine article and ended up with a purposeful, powerful career pivot. Back in 2017, I was featured in a magazine article titled "Strong Female in a Male-Dominated Industry," which was unexpected, exciting, and eye-opening. Little did I know that this article would ignite the spark that ultimately led to writing my book, "Speak Up, Sister," and my thriving coaching business.
When the article came out, I started getting requests to speak to women's groups about my confidence and leadership secrets. I was thrilled to do so! My tips and tricks were well-received, and women started asking where they could buy my book. At the time, I had no idea that I was going to write a book but fast-forward a couple of years. I had a complete manuscript, a publisher, and a business coach to guide me down my new path and what I now know to be my purpose.
I credit my clients for my motivation. When I hear about their growth and empowerment or receive a text with a "Nailed It!" gif, it makes my heart smile, and my head spins with more ideas. Just yesterday, one of my clients shared with me how she went from feeling insecure about making decisions to becoming a decision-making machine. Her boss and even her husband have commended her on her newfound confidence and growth. Transformation is the goal and transformation she achieved!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm especially proud of the 85 graduates of my signature program, Three Pillars of Leadership, and the 18 who are currently enrolled. Many of these ladies report earning promotions, receiving salary increases, and assuming higher-level leadership roles within months of graduating! Statistically speaking, as of April 2023, over 7200 audience members have received the message of confidence and leadership via one of my keynote talks or workshops. The Speak Up, Sister! book has appeared on eight best-seller lists. I really loved being invited to a morning television show to share the empowering message of confidence and leadership. Nothing like a live audience as a fun way to flex your confidence muscle!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the toughest hurdles is being strategic and discerning about the infinite ideas and opportunities for growth. I feed off the inspiration I receive from my clients. In reality, though, not every idea can make the cut. I invite trusty focus groups and my small but mighty team to help me vet and test ideas. A good idea only becomes great with the right support behind it. Technology and automation are not my forte. Finding tech-savvy unicorns has not been easy, but it's absolutely essential for maintaining the quality of service and balance of life. I absolutely love what I do, yet turning off the idea faucet at, say, 3 am… that's something I'm still figuring out. 😊
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your customer inside and out. Be very specific about who they are. Do not try to please everyone. Sometimes it seems counter-intuitive to narrow in on a niche, but it's the best thing you can do to serve your customer and be efficient with your strategies.
- Make sure you're doing something you love because you'll be spending a lot of time with it. While endeavoring on a previous business venture, I quickly realized that I did not love it. In fact, I didn't even like it, yet I continued to build it. I put a lot of time and effort into something that was draining my energy. It took a toll. Today, however, I still spend a lot of time and energy, but I love what I do. It fuels me every day. I can't imagine doing anything else.
- Surround yourself with smart people. Invest time in finding trustworthy, intelligent mentors. Build an informal board of directors who inspire you and are direct and honest. Be very skeptical about consultants who will take your money and promise "7 days to 6 figures" or "1000 clients in 10 days." Nothing happens with a magic wand, even when you're willing to invest in what you think might be a magic wand. Be smart. Be strategic. Be patient. Be consistent and stay focused. Know that your efforts will pay off and that the world is a better place for having a purpose-driven entrepreneur in it!
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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