Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah Chapman Bacerra, Founder of Trailblazing in Color, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

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

Trailblazing in Color is a consulting and coaching firm laser-focused on the intentional architecture of cultures, systems, and people that move us toward achieving pay equity, gender parity, and racial justice. Fixated on going beyond traditional, superficial means of cultural transformation, our two-pronged approach includes:

  1. Working with organizations to provide tailored learning initiatives focused on behavior change and creating cultures where all can grow and thrive.
  2. Supporting leaders from historically excluded, often intersectional, backgrounds to embody their voice and elevate their impact to grow where they want to go. Through one-on-one coaching and our Trailblazer Circle community, focused on elevating influence and amplifying impact.

Our signature workshops include "Speaking for Impact," "Increasing Intercultural Competence & Effectiveness," "Giving & Receiving Courageous Feedback," and "Synergy in Action: Strengthening Team Communication."

Tell us about yourself

For the past decade, I have had the privilege of working with some of the world's leading organizations through leadership program development, workshop facilitation, strategic planning, coaching, and culture design. I've also been a community organizer for a global movement, serving in a leadership capacity for the past five years and learning about what it takes to start and sustain a movement…without losing yourself along the way. I've learned a lot and met a lot of incredible people on this journey. And I've realized how imperative it is that we spread the collective wisdom of the innovators and thought leaders focused on social change because only then we can grow our momentum exponentially. Growing up mixed race (my mom is white, and my dad is Black), I often felt like there was no place for me. Without knowing anyone outside of my family with a similar experience, I didn't know where to turn to feel less alone. So I went inward for a long time, staying quiet, timid, and small.

It took me a very long time to learn how to leverage my voice and my unique story (I'm still learning, in fact). Over time, long-time friends and colleagues who knew me early on started to ask me how I'd gone from quiet and reserved to empowered and vocal, including speaking in front of ten thousand people as the 2020 Diego Women's March MC. I knew then that that's what I wanted to help others with marginalized experiences do. I've seen too many phenomenal individuals silenced and pushed out of their organizations because the space had not been cleared or opened for their voices. My mission is to help those whose voices have been silenced, limited or rejected REDEFINE what influence and impact mean to them and fundamentally change the way leadership and power look.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment to date has been launching the Trailblazing in Color podcast. The podcast serves as an extension of our mission, interviewing trailblazers in a variety of industries and from a wide span of communities to share the wisdom of what's working in scaling social impact and how we can do more of it. Our first season included the City of San Diego's first Chief of Race and Equity, the first Black female Engineering Fellow at Comcast, and a bestselling author focused on the power of play for improving relationships and navigating adversity — plus many more trailblazers paving new pathways. It was a major labor of love, and I'm so proud it is out in the world. And look out…Season 2 will be launching in April! Trailblazing in Color RSS Feed:

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

The hardest thing for me has been the painful and powerful work of going inward to truly learn who I am and what my unique gifts are. I am my business, and my business is me. My areas of challenge become the company's areas of challenge. I don't mean this in an unhealthy way (as in your business is connected to your worthiness - resist that), but one that presents an opportunity for learning and growth. This last year, I learned that I have ADHD…and upon reflection, I realized that I always have. For women, it's often diagnosed later in life. Unpacking that as an adult, especially as a female founder, has been difficult but critical work.
I talk a lot about the importance of self-connection with my coaching clients and with leaders. Self-connection revolves around three key areas: self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-alignment (based on the work of researcher Kristine Klussman, PhD). Self-acceptance is one of the most challenging areas for people to work on, myself included.

Self-acceptance in this phase has looked like realizing that I'd been highly successful in a corporate environment because my ADHD shows up as perfectionism, people-pleasing, and relentless self-criticism. A lot of these systems thrive on that. That is not the culture I want to create in my business. We're rejecting grind and hustle. We're rejecting this idea of "limitless capacity." The hardest part is all of that has to start with me. It's a lot of unlearning and ceasing to ask for permission. For anyone that needs to hear it: Permission granted.

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

  1. You have to go inward to go outward. Invest the time in learning about yourself, what you love to do, what puts you in the flow, areas where you should hire help, and how to preserve your energy. Much as we like to resist, getting to know ourselves often requires a lot of stillness and quiet.
  2. Find community. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Building a business can suck…often. It's lonely, it's hard, and it tests everything you've got. We need to be proactive about creating the support systems we need. I have incredible friendships, and I also invest in communities that support me in my business. These relationships have become my strategic advisors, collaborators, and shoulders to cry on. (Currently, I'm a member of Hello7 [shoutout to my Shmillies!], focused on helping underrepresented founders generate wealth, and The Upside, supporting Independent Consultants to charge what they're worth and scale [heyyy, fellow Upsiders]).
  3. Build your support team. Hire a coach. For real. And get a therapist. Hiring coaches specializing in different areas of need over the past 2 years and maintaining therapy have been some of the best decisions I've made. When you inevitably get stuck, you'll have your support team and your community. Take care of your mental health. And don't go it alone.

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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