Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tess Brigham, a licensed psychotherapist, speaker, and Board Certified Coach, based in El Cerrito, CA, USA.

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

I help young people help themselves through my coaching, books, courses, and speaking engagements. I speak to young people about navigating this exciting but overwhelming time of their lives. I also speak to companies and organizations about the multi-generational workforce and how to better communicate across the generations.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a proud native Northern California girl. I was born in a small town called Ukiah but primarily grew up in Berkeley. I went to college on the East Coast and returned after graduation thinking I knew exactly who or what I wanted in life. While my 20s were fun and exciting, I spent a lot of time feeling unsure of myself, lonely, and confused about what I should or should not be doing. I just wished someone (other than my mother) would show up and give me some guidance on what to do or at least reassure me that everything would be all right. This is why I work with 20-somethings... because my own journey was neither linear nor pretty. At age 22, I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted. By age 27, I was lost, confused, broke, single, unemployed, and living with my mother. A lot happened in between those years. Throughout my 30s, I continued to learn a lot about myself (and I'm still learning). Yet, it was the 20-something years that felt so important and significant. Those were the years that guidance, support, direction, and reassurance were what I needed most.

This is why I do what I do. I want to make this exciting but overwhelming time in your life easier. I want you to be able to go into your 30s, 40s, and beyond with a strong sense of who you are and what's most important to you. Life in your 40s isn't always easy or simple. In many ways, my life at 49 now is busier and crazier than it was at 22! It's just that I feel more confident, and I know who I am and what I want. When I was in my 20s, I worried that I wouldn't find a career I enjoyed and was good at or a loving relationship with someone that made me laugh.

Today, I'm happy to say that I've been married for almost 19 years to my funny, smart, and creative husband, Steve. Together we have a son, Max, and two pugs, Jabba and Biscuit. I have a thriving business, and I actually like Mondays because I love what I do and enjoy being my own boss.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

When a client refers a friend or when someone sees me talk and they want me to speak to their company, that's when I know I've done something right. When I impact someone enough for them to say, "Hey, Tess helped me, and I know she can help you too." It's a reminder to myself that the work I do matters on a larger scale.

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

I can only name one! There are many difficult aspects to being a business owner, but for me, the most difficult is learning when to stop working. When you work for yourself, you can easily work all the time, never take a vacation or feel like you can take a day off. Partly because you know when you don't work, you don't get paid, but also there is always so much to do it never feels like you're doing enough.

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

  1. Make sure you know what the trade-offs are when you work for yourself. Not having a guaranteed income, not having someone you're accountable to, not having vacation days or health insurance. Being a business owner isn't for everyone, so if you don't think you can sit with the discomfort of not always knowing what you're going to earn, then it might not be right for you.
  2. Don't spend a lot of money in the beginning. Grassroots it for as long as you can. In the beginning, you're figuring a lot of things out, and you'll pivot and make changes which means you'll be changing your website, promo materials, etc. Do as much as you can on your own.
  3. Constantly remind yourself this is a process. You're at the beginning, don't compare yourself to someone who has been doing this for 10 years. Just focus on the next step and praise yourself for what you've already accomplished vs. beating yourself up about feeling like you're behind.

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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