Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Thomas Kevin Kekoa Dolan-Ma, Founder of Thomas Kevin Kekoa Dolan-Ma Coaching, located in Vancouver, BC, CA., and Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA.

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

The focus of my coaching work is simple yet powerfully impactful. I deliver clarity around a client's intention or goal and exponentially increase and shift their ability to get results. It is not a delusion for me to know clients don't buy coaching because they want to spend an hour talking to me once a week or a few times a month. I know they buy life coaching because they want something – they have a goal or intention in their mind or heart, a problem to be solved, and a specific result. That is my only commitment. I've learned not to waste time talking endlessly about the power of coaching and my transformative personal story and instead focus on what is important: my client's goal/intention and the result they want. I draw to me, as my main clientele, folks who are at a stage in their lives where change feels imminent. Many tell me they have taken "too long to heed the call to change." My clients overall are women contemplating a major shift in their lives. The shift can be change, it can be movement in a relationship, or it can be a full-scale remodel of their lives. Their courage and vulnerability are so inspiring.

Tell us about yourself

It took me some time to understand that folks don't buy what I do; they buy why I do it. Coaching is a proof point that shows folks that what I do simply proves what I believe. When I took the time to articulate my WHY, which is: To ask illuminating questions that help boost heart-full self-love so that together each of us can brighten the path we walk. This commitment to better knowing myself helped lift all areas of my life. With generosity, I always assert people know what they do and how they do it, but very few actually know WHY they do it. I used to be one of those folks.

My WHY is my compass – it provides me with direction and focuses so that I can live my life with purpose, on purpose. I've spent my life learning how to be brave as I've unlearned many lessons from my family of origin that didn't serve me. I've spanned my lifetime hunting for my truth. I am graced with being able to focus on knowing my truth, sharing it with the world, and living from my scars and not my wounds. I've learned in my lifetime that magic is a mess. It has been up to me, from the very beginning, to write the ending to my life by adapting. Where I've landed, this place of destiny has taken immense faith. I know that the life I've chosen to live matters to many people I love, and most assuredly, it now matters to me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is realizing the gift I can give to people by mirroring back to them how accomplished they are. And how I can support them in arriving at the place of being able to deliver their unique gifts and talents fully. It's been a thrill to know my ability helps support them in making a difference in the world and inspires them to be their best. I love being able to mirror back to people their potential and supporting them in owning their growth and development. They realize that they are strongest in their ability to support themselves from this place. Within the context of business accomplishment and as a key deliverable to my clients, I nudge folks towards being self-aware, using all of their qualities and traits to be fully themselves, which is unique. As my coach tells me, my ability to facilitate or inspire clients' growth, maybe even family and friends, is directly proportional to my ability to do that with myself.

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

The hardest thing about being a business owner is realizing that being "Solo" as a solopreneur is tough. It took me years to embrace this truth community doesn't just happen - we have to make it happen. The biggest surprise about being completely on my own was that I was completely on my own. For many other coaches I’ve chatted with, the hardest part of being the sole person in a business is the isolation. The lack of connection and support is palpable; there's no one else to connect with, no team to give you feedback. All your ideas, opinions, and worries remain in your head. In my previous life, as an employee, sometimes my ideas were met with enthusiasm by my partners and team members. Some roll their eyes and do a quick dismissal. Most of the time, they became an amalgamation of everyone's ideas, and we ended up with something greater than the sum of its parts. There was comfort in this dynamic because there was consensus or community building when we decided. It doesn't take long for self-doubt to creep in when you lose that dynamic. The important, strategic decisions you have to make fall on you alone. At times you become unsure of your ideas and judgment because there's no one else to give you an outside perspective. I didn't think I'd miss the joy of being around other people I cared about in a work environment. The water cooler talk and stories. The little moments of connection that happen organically. Over time, I realized I had to get some sense of connection and community back in my life if I was going to keep going as a solopreneur. It was never going to happen if I didn't make it happen. I started saying yes to more social invitations. I began saying yes, a lot more to new opportunities for connection. I got more active in my community. Once I became a one-man-show, I realized I now had plenty of flexibility. I know it may sound silly, but I hired a coach.

I needed subject matter insights, feedback, and guidance about my enterprise from someone else. A fresh voice to give me perspective and to help counter the competing voices in my head arguing about the best way to move forward. I got out of my home office and back into the world. I wasn't taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility that being a solopreneur afforded me. I had yet to let go of the old paradigm of thinking I needed to be chained to my desk - not unlike the dissolution of going into a workplace because of COVID. Cumulatively and slowly, these strategies have been a tremendous help in restoring my sense of community and connection, which in turn replenished my energy and enthusiasm for being a solopreneur. And they've helped me gain a renewed appreciation for the reasons I wanted to be a solopreneur in the first place: freedom, flexibility, and nimbleness.

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

  1. Make decisions that align with your business vision and values.
    Having a solid grasp of your business's mission statement and objectives is integral to making decisions that benefit your whole enterprise. Every choice must run through this filter.
  2. Build a relationship with your employees. Please get to know your people, their needs, and their career goals, as this will help them be motivated to help build your business with you.
  3. Educate yourself on new ways of doing things. There is nothing more powerful than declaring that "you do not know ."Whether by embracing new technologies or incorporating new ideas from your people, make it an intention to stay at the forefront of innovations in the business world. And get comfortable acknowledging that you do not know from time to time.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You'll never have to worry about being laid off when you work for yourself. With competency in a high-demand field, you'll always have work. The only way you can lose your job is if you fire yourself! Now that's self-created security.

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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