Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Wade McJacobs, Founder of Student Empowerment Group, LLC, located in Beaverton, OR, USA.

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

I am in the business of empowering people to be lifelong learners. Having worked with young people for over 40 years, I now focus on working with adults who also want to empower those youth. My focus has been on teachers and other educators. Recently, I discovered a new customer base in adults who wish to improve their own enjoyment of and skills with reading.

Tell us about yourself

One day a student of mine who had just birthed a little boy read the word "little" as "small." This is obviously incorrect… or is it? She got the idea correct but made an error in reading the word. Unfortunately, she focused on the error. I learned to change that focus by teaching her to pay attention to her own ideas that are created as she reads. Eighteen months later, she was reading four grade levels higher and feeling good about her newly discovered abilities. She came to me with new confidence and declared, "My son will be a reader!" She had never before believed that academics would be a gift she would be giving to her son. This and dozens of other stories like it got me started and keeps me motivated. It's the personal stories that keep me going.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The most significant accomplishments for me are those that come unexpectedly. When someone or some program asks for copies of my book or when someone asks me to do a presentation that I had not made a solicitation for, these moments of unexpected acknowledgment are the most significant accomplishments.

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

Maintaining daily activity is probably the most difficult challenge. Every day, do something, at least on those days that are set aside as business days. At the end of the day, be able to say out loud, "I did this," whatever it is. It is not always a big thing and does not always get a direct result, but being able to label it is important.

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

  1. Keep the joy. Make sure you have something in your life that brings you joy, and it is wise for this to be outside your business. Starting and running a business is hard work. You will need a place for joy.
  2. Be careful with expectations. The disappointment of an expected result can be discouraging and blind you to what could be learned. My second book, Dare to Read, was not in my original plans, but it has become a flagship for much of my activity. Whenever you take a step forward, an entirely new landscape is created for your vision. Every result you get, both good and bad, is data for a new vision. Be careful to avoid getting so locked into the details of your original plans that you fail to adjust to new developments. Success does not come in a straight line.
  3. Ask for advice, new ideas, assistance, or whatever you may need. The worst that will happen is they say no, which is good data for you to have. If you do not ask, then you are depriving people of an opportunity to feel good about helping you. People are incredibly generous given the opportunity.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Find gratitude every day. Keep it simple. Just don't forget to feel and express gratitude.

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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