Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Zoha Abbas, CEO and Creator of The Ownership Method, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a business coach helping solopreneurs and small business owners streamline their offers and marketing. I combine my ad-land, copywriting, and marketing expertise with human-centered strategies and intuitive tools like tarot to guide my clients in building businesses that actually support them and their audience. I like to say we're building a better business through data, divination, and dismantling harmful systems.
Tell us about yourself
I'm an advertising industry escapee, but the knowledge I gained over the decade I spent there continues to serve me in my business today. I'm grateful for what I learned, but I'm also grateful I got out. The racism, sexism, stress-related illness, lack of support for my neurodivergent brain, and ruthless competition within my work environments really took its toll, not just on me but the people around me. Those experiences really informed the way I'd developed my business, all the way from my mission in helping my clients to the nitty gritty processes I use on a daily basis.
I think we're at a pivotal point in the way we approach the idea of "doing business" and how we relate to our work, my purpose with the work I do with my clients and the content I share on Substack is really driven by a deep need to advocate for our humanity in all things. We are human, and we deserve to work, live and connect in ways that support our humanness rather than ways that commodify it to feed an idea of success that doesn't serve much of the population.
I really want to help other small business owners create meaningful success within the messy grey area of life - I feel like we're the future of this economy, and we have the potential to make a great change that supports our humanity instead of harming it further.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been in allowing myself to accept and lean into my strengths in a way that makes running my business easier and more simple.
I struggled for a really long time to find what worked for me and where I fit into the landscape of online business. Much of that struggle came from using strategies, processes, business models, and tactics that didn't align with the way I function as a person. Needless to say, I wound up burned out, often to the point of wondering what I was even doing with all this "entrepreneurship stuff." I had to really examine what I needed, both in my own health and the growth of my business, and commit to supporting those needs.
Finding my sweet spot with the concept of "data, divination and dismantling harmful systems" and how I actually deliver on that concept took a lot of trial and error. But I'm also so proud of myself for continuing to ask myself questions and testing my theories because being able to trust my process and that I can help people through that process is so incredibly rewarding.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Knowing the difference between "what works" and "what works for you."
When you're in business for yourself, you're constantly looking around for new information, new ways of doing things, and examples of how something can be done - it can be easy to forget that what you need in your business might be vastly different from what someone else needs. We're often searching for these silver-bullet strategies, but there's really no such thing. Listening to your own intuition, being clear on your own needs, and acting on those things regardless of trends or what people are trying to sell you can be a real challenge.
What helps me most in working through that challenge is 1) remembering (unfortunately) how badly I've been burned in the past when I've ignored my own instincts and needs and 2) staying super clear on my current goals and why they matter to me. If I can keep my vision in focus, it's much easier to make decisions that actually help me make it a reality instead of getting stuck in a space that's serving the status quo.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get absolutely clear on why your offers matter to your audience. I like to ask myself the question, "So what?" when I'm creating new offers or marketing. I try to answer this a few times so I can go several layers into why this offer or message matters. Understanding the benefits from your audience's perspective is critical to communicating the value of your business well.
- Know your goals and track what actually makes a difference in your progress. This doesn't always mean tracking numbers - it can also be about tracking energy, how scary something felt to do, how aligned a strategy feels, etc. If you have to sell your soul to make something happen, it's probably not worth it. And when it comes to numbers, look at the ones that truly affect your end goal and contribute directly to the results you want.
- Remember that resources come in different forms: physical resources like money or your supplies, energy (physical, mental, and emotional!), and time. Find ways to work that exist at the real-life intersection of these things so you can make progress without overcommitting yourself. Remember, you're in this for the long haul!
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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