Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Jacqueline Ashley, Co-Founder of, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

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

The business I co-founded,, is a progressive coaching and consulting firm that utilizes a design-thinking, strengths-based, and whole-person approach specializing in developing future-ready inclusive leaders to level up and lead with courage. We work together with leaders to cultivate healthy and well workplaces where people can truly thrive, which includes fostering better allyship, elevating members of traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups as leaders, as well as advancing well-being and resilience culture for the benefit of all.

As a consultant, my clients are corporate or public benefit organizations who want to increase their social impact for social good internally and within their communities and be financially sustainable or profitable at the same time.

As a coach, I collaborate with high-potential individual contributors, new or emerging leaders, directors, and C-suite executives that are located globally—in Asia, Europe, and North America—who work in entertainment, technology, healthcare, corporate, government, and education. Not surprisingly, most of my coaching clients tend to be members of one or more marginalized groups—women, neurodiverse individuals, LGBTQ+, disabled persons, and people of color.

As an award-winning social worker and woman of color, I recognize the social imperative to promote the inclusion and belonging of others who have been marginalized. I collaborate with clients of marginalized identities to address the unique challenges of combating stereotypes, biases, and assumptions that have stood in the way and how to navigate leadership ascension while maintaining authenticity and integrity. For clients not of color nor part of any marginalized group, my coaching challenges them to consider what their biases and assumptions may be and what advantages of privilege they may have taken for granted.

In working with all clients, I help them to understand how to lead better and more effectively in their organizations by looking first at how they lead their own lives. This can mean developing their emotional intelligence, leveraging strengths, examining personal sustainability, and effectively navigating change and uncertainty. It matters because who we are determines how we lead.

Tell us about yourself

I am a professional social worker. I have two graduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Southern California: A Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Social Work and Business in a Global Society and a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Social Change and Innovation. It was during my MSW concentration year internship at a city employee assistance program that I first learned about coaching and consulting. It was from that introduction that I started dreaming about having my own coaching and consulting business and started laying the foundation for it by developing and preparing myself for it. Years later, was started after I graduated with my doctorate degree in 2018. As a professional social worker, I love having cultivated the expertise and experience to more effectively empower members of marginalized groups to be able to elevate themselves, as well as helping to identify allies and build communities that support the aims of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice throughout the world. I am passionate about this work in helping people and organizations show up at their best and demonstrating community care. Making a difference, even incrementally, is what motivates me each day to do what I do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is having found a coaching and consulting niche that resonates with the kind of progress so many people want to see as a better way for society and the world to be, now and in the future. It matters so much to be able to see the impact of being able to support those that have been traditionally marginalized by society to be able to find their own path and step into their power.

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

One of the hardest things is the wearing of multiple hats in your own business because it feels very personal. You want so much for it to succeed and will do everything you know how to for that to happen. It can be discouraging when it takes longer than you hoped for things to come together. What helps is to remember that good things can take time to develop. It is easy to get over-involved sometimes and too invested. Be sure to remember that your business is just one aspect of your life, and its success or failure is not a reflection of your inherent worth as a human being. Embracing a healthy sense of self-compassion will help you weather any disappointments you may encounter, learn from your mistakes, keep your confidence intact no matter how things turn out, and help you move forward to tackle your next great adventure.

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

  1. Get clear on knowing what matters most to you and what purpose and meaning the business will fulfill for you and for whom you plan on serving. Clarity of values, particularly core values, will help guide you in your decision-making and in navigating any challenges you come across. It will also help set the stage for not only why you do business but how you will conduct it.
  2. Start before you feel ready. If I had waited until I felt ready, I would never have started or done anything! Now, this does not mean not preparing yourself. Prepare and take advantage of the wealth of resources that you can access, especially the free ones. There are lots of good, free resources! Learn as much as you can and learn from others. Recognize that you cannot learn and know everything. As long as you prepare as well as you can and have some help when you need it, you will know and have enough to get started. The rest will come with time and experience.
  3. Nurture your business and your life. Ensure you do not overwork yourself. Allocate intentional time for your business and let it nurture the other aspects of your life. Remember what the business is for and design the work to harmonize the time spent on it to make your life the best it can be in order to cultivate your wellness holistically. Prioritizing your wellness makes it possible for you to be an effective leader and entrepreneur, which allows you to contribute and provide even greater value to others.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

What makes entrepreneurship a scary proposition for many people is the inherent uncertainty involved. This is especially true for those who have always been employed by someone else. There is a sense of stability in having a steady, reliable paycheck and working for an established or well-funded organization. Starting your own business means starting from scratch and building it from the ground up. It means, in the beginning, not knowing what to expect or what will happen. It means possibly losing money or making nothing at first, and when it gets better, income will fluctuate from month to month. This is part of the entrepreneurial journey.

The best way to navigate this uncertainty is to consider the possibilities that await from doing something new and different and to anchor other aspects of your life in stability to balance out the uncertainty. What possibilities await you on this entrepreneurial adventure? What do you think you will regret least—starting or not starting your business? What in your life can you depend on for a sense of stability as you navigate the uncertainty of a new business? How might you maintain a stable sense of self while faced with difficulty?

It takes a willingness to take risks to start, maintain, and grow your own business as an entrepreneur. It requires an investment of time, money, and effort. It helps to remember that anything truly worth doing does not come easy. With that said, the right calculated risks can reap great rewards, and a level of freedom can be achieved by building a successful business. Again, that takes time, and success does not come without failure. Be deliberate in your decision-making and be clear on the right reasons for choosing entrepreneurship.

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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