**In November of last year I offered a special photo shoot opportunity to three local women small business owners.
For the month of January I will be showcasing those women.**
Meet Stephanie Hess, a corporate beauty executive turned Business & Success Coach for mission-driven entrepreneurs. Be sure and check out her website!
I asked Stephanie to tell me about her business and share her story. Here’s what she said.
What do you do and what led you to this particular career path?
“I help big-hearted, purpose-driven female entrepreneurs, particularly coaches and creatives, live into bigger questions so they can truly create what they want and help impact the world with their unique gifts and expertise (that they often undervalue). In short, many people refer to me as a ‘Business Coach.’ I’m not one for titles but that will do. Some days I coach, others I mentor, others I consult…it’s really just the tool I’m pulling out of my toolkit to best support what my client needs to get from point A to point B in the moment.
What led me here was, after 10 years in a thriving career as a corporate beauty director in New York, I had the epiphany that I was broken, and living completely out of alignment. It was just after Christmas in 2015, when the field of health coaching appeared in a banner ad during an online retail therapy session. By the New Year, I was enrolled to become a Health Coach and stumbled my way through exit strategies, marketing myself in the online world and finding clients. Today, although I’ve transitioned into ‘Business Coaching’, I intertwine holistic principles with every client I work with, especially as entrepreneurs, because our businesses are a direct reflection of our mental, physical and spiritual state at any given moment.”
Can you share an interesting story that happened to you since you began your company?
“When I left my corporate job to start my coaching business, I surely didn’t suspect it to be a walk in the park. Yet I underestimated all that would be required, to step fully into my new role as an ‘entrepreneur’. My mentors had long referred to the ‘Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster’. . .the experience of highs and lows in business, and when I started experiencing it for myself, it was quite comical actually (as it was terrifying). It would go like this: I would sign a client or get a really lovely opportunity to speak at an event and the next day, the credit card company would be ringing my phone of the hook or the client I was excited about would fall through the cracks. The distinction for me has been: the gifts are in the high’s but the gold is in the low’s, because with them comes insight and growth crucial for the journey. I’ve also found that, in each stage and phase of business, the ride remains the ride…but with different loops and turns. Surrendering to this – rather than fighting or resisting it – has been massively helpful and a skill worth building.”
What’s one mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson did you learn from it?
“Hands down: trying to ‘be’ like my mentors. My first mentor was this fiery, edgy woman with a resonant energy and voice (the total opposite of who I am, how I show up). Yet, I found myself stuck in the ‘not enough’ thought-loop…’I’m not powerful/resonant/assertive/bold enough like (insert mentor’s name), to ever create what she has created.’ I tried modeling the very first live videos I was doing after her, and completely flopped. It took me a while but I eventually got, that in this business, we tend to attract clients who are like us in so many ways. The people who would become my clients would resonate with my authentic energy, and this was only possible the moment I gave myself permission to be imperfectly and fully me. The bigger lesson learned? There’s only one you on the planet, be the best damn version of her you can be”
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being a small business owner and how has it enriched you personally?
“The immense privilege of living fully on purpose and having the ability to create exactly what I want to create, when I want to create it. . . a luxury that many women in other parts of the world, to this day, still do not have the basic rights to do. There is something remarkable, to be a woman with an online business that reaches people around the globe. I still pinch myself that I can wake up, and in my pj’s and with a laptop or phone, connect with clients on the other side of the world. It’s really quite extraordinary.”
What are the downsides of being a small business owner? What are your biggest challenges?
“1) The often unspoken feeling of ‘loneliness at the top’, that many leaders and creators face. Having it all yet feeling a bit on your own island. Conversely, I suppose this has been a bit of my secret weapon and why I’ve always leveraged mentorship in a big way, while being OK keeping my head down and focusing on the dream at hand.
2) Never switching off, in part because one can’t turn off or tone down purpose. I haven’t worked a day in my life since becoming an entrepreneur is very much true, yet this burning passion for the work doesn’t mean being unintentional in the time I spend in ‘purpose’ mode vs. pleasure mode, and nurturing my most important relationships which is equally important to me and my family.”
What, if any, are some “myths” or misconceptions that you might like to dispel about being a small business owner?
“That small businesses can’t think or be BIG. I believe one can have a ‘small business’ and still have a global, scalable business or brand if that’s what they’re after. Today, with advances in tech, a business can essentially reach and serve people all around the world and not be limited to the confines of a single geographical location, if this doesn’t align with their business model.”
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women small business owners that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
“I love the question. Often times, especially with service-based business owners, it’s the low professional self-esteem to price their services/offers competitively and confidently ask for the sale. This often stems from childhood, whether it was a negative experience of sales or programming from mom and dad that ‘women shouldn’t sell’ or, quite commonly, it’s a self-worth issue, which is the most crucial belief ‘table’ to reframe and reengineer. This process is absolutely crucial in order to clear the blocks that are keeping most women from experiencing the real impact and the time and financial freedom that often motivate us to start the business in the first place (behind purpose connection).”
What is the most striking difference between actually owning and operating a small business and what you thought it would be like?
“It’s equally, the hardest and most rewarding thing one could ever do.”
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to run their own business. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful?
“There are 5 that I find to be most crucial or symbolic in determining one’s long term success. 1) Unwavering, daily, non-negotiable commitment to your dream (your north star), 2) belief that it is actually possible, 3) trust in a higher power (God, higher self, source, spirit, The Universe), 4) courage to take risks, fail and get back in the ring and 5) grit = a relentless doing whatever it takes, until it takes.”
What advice would you give to other women looking to start a business? What advice would you give to other women small business owners to help them thrive?
“A fine mentor, Rich Litvin, once said that the first 1,000 days of business are the most challenging. I read this 2.5 years into my business and laughed out loud at his accuracy. To this end, ensure that you have what you need to cover your expenses and a bit more, for the first 1,000 days. Ideally, hire the best mentor you can find with the resources / budget you have to have your back and help you pave the way to success far faster than you could on your own. This is how you fast-track. And work on building daily skill around those 5 traits from the previous question.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
“In 2001, I turned to my parents and said, ‘I want to go to college in Philadelphia; Temple University to be exact.’ In 2006, while walking down campus, I called home to say, ‘Mom, Dad. . . I got a senior internship in New York!’ In 2012, I sent them a text from my corporate blackberry that said, ‘I’ve just been promoted to Director!’ In 2015, while home on the couch for holiday break, I looked at them and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. . .’ and in 2017, I said, ‘I’m packing up my life and apartment, moving things home and starting my own business.’ With every share, with every declaration, with every move. . . I was met with the same, supportive response: ‘Ok!’ My parents have given countless levels and types of support over the years. But remarkably, the one that continues to humble and impress upon me every day, is their ability to embrace my unconventional journey with the utmost grace, acceptance and no-questions-asked. Not a day goes by where I don’t count this blessing (twice).”
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
“1) Find a mentor. Get coaching, join masterminds, and invest in a mentor who is several steps ahead of you, and where you want to be.
Much of the time you won’t just have the extra cash laying around to pay for it. The question becomes: HOW RESOURCEFUL ARE YOU?
Sell stuff, borrow, take out credit, cut the clothes or travel or coffee budget for a year (totally possible when you’re committed), get a side hustle—figure it out and get out of your own money story as to why you can’t ‘afford’ it. It’s just FEAR. Besides, any investment you make requires showing up and making it worth it so you create the ROI. This is YOUR responsibility, not the mentor’s.”
“2) Solve bigger, more sophisticated problems that your dream client has, and solve them in groups as opposed to 1:1 (if this works for your unique business), so you can make more money and have a bigger impact. You don’t need to ‘wait’ to have a New York Times Best Seller, a perfectly built-out website or branding or business cards BEFORE you can start working with clients and having an impact.”
“3) GET YOURSELF IN THE ROOM. Go to events where you can be mentored by and in the energy of those who are miles ahead of you and have done what you want to achieve (more of #1 because it is EVERYTHING).”
“4) Find the most successful person who shares your morals and ethics, and offer value so they agree to take you on as an apprentice, and never, ever let them down.”
“5) The right ENERGY + MINDSET + ACTION = RESULTS. A combination of the 3, tended to daily, will get you where you want to be.”
Thank you Stephanie for taking the time to share with me. I truly enjoyed photographing you!