Hello! I am continuing with my entrepreneurial series but want to give you guys a heads up that I have surprise announcement so please read all the way through! This next guest is a longtime friend and is no stranger to this platform 🙂 I’ve definitely been inspired by her journey of being a sustainable small business owner. I actually wouldn’t even use the term “small business” with her, but alas, that is the theme for this series, so it will have to do. Her ability to scale her business has demonstrated major boss moves and her constant support in my own journey has been so vital. Give it up to my longtime friend Esperanza (aka Hope, aka “Hopey G.”) Gallón 🙂
Me: Introduce yourself!
Esperanza: My name is Esperanza Gallón. I’m in the 35-40 year old age group and am a licensed counselor from Cincinnati, OH. I love eating good food while watching a good movie.
Me: How long have you been an entrepreneur?
Esperanza: This is the start of my 4th year!
Me: What motivated you to start your own business?
Esperanza: Nothing, but God! I was working for a local private practice that I really enjoyed, but it eventually got sold. I had real issues with the new management policies and decided to leave the practice. God told me to start my own practice, but I was stubborn. I interviewed at several practices, but only found bits and pieces of what I was looking for. That’s when I finally took more seriously what God was telling me and started my own private practice.
Me: Why do you feel entrepreneurship is best for you? In your opinion, what qualities and skills does one need to possess to be an entrepreneur, and what qualities do you possess that are in line with your views?
Esperanza: I feel that entrepreneurship is best for me because it allows me to work in a way where I function better. Over the years I have learned how intentionally God has made me. There are things that I struggle with and things that come at an ease due to the way God has wired me for His purpose. In this realization, I have learned to work from a place of strength more often and design a business with me in mind. I have the flexibility to set a schedule that works for me, take the time off that I need, focus on the work I love and have flexibility to evolve my business with my changing needs over time. One example is that, during the pandemic, because I had my own business, I was able to make the decision to start seeing clients virtually to protect myself and my client’s health. I know many people working for someone else did not have the luxury of having an option.
In my opinion, the qualities and skills needed to be an entrepreneur are adaptability, abundance mindset, customer service skills, trustworthiness, perseverance, teachable spirit, faith, vision, network skills, and the ability to take risks.
I’m blessed to say that all of the characteristics and skills I believe allow for a successful entrepreneur, I possess. When starting my business, I realized how much I learned about customer service from observing my dad and the businesses he ran. I innately had vision, perseverance and a teachable spirit. I also knew that from previous personal relationships and professional experiences the value of trustworthiness and how that would help me grow my practice. I had to learn and grow into the other skills and characteristics as my business developed.
Me: What support groups do you have in place to assist you in achieving your entrepreneurial goals? What have you found most helpful in keeping you moving forward, especially during tough times?
Esperanza: I’m very blessed to have a great support system! I have several friends that have been along the entrepreneurial journey with me. They give me encouragement, point out when I’m getting in my own way, hold me accountable and celebrate my wins with me. I also have several amazing mentors that I can always go to for wise counsel and support. A few of my mentors were actually encouraging me to start my business long before it was even a thought in my mind. I also look to people that I personally know or people in my field that have been where I want to go and glean from their experience. I also love information, so I’m constantly reading blogs, listening to podcasts, audio books, and videos to learn more about my field. There’s so many resources out there! Last, but definitely not least, I have two colleagues who are also women entrepreneurs who I meet with at least monthly, serving as accountability partners to my professional goals. It also helps knowing that my support system doesn’t pressure me to know how to do everything and do business perfectly. This allows for me to have a safe place to learn and ask for help when I need it. Overall, my support system believes in me and reminds me that I can do what God said I could do and I can have what God said I could have.
In tough times I found it helpful to remember that a little progress is better than no progress. I also try to remember that I regret the thing I hadn’t done more than doing something later than had I hoped. With these things in mind it’s helpful to ask for encouragement and/or help when I need it so that I don’t give up prematurely.
Me: What lessons have you learned in your entrepreneurial journey?
Esperanza: I have learned that if God is for you, that you may still struggle, however, He will provide for you and He is faithful. You will experience His plan for you just like He said. I also learned that God’s ways may be unconventional, but they are always best! I’m also constantly being reminded that as a busy bee, I can take time to rest when I need to and in fact rest makes you more productive! Lastly, I’ve learned to never give up. What seems impossible in the beginning is achievable if you just keep going at it.
Me: What are some challenges you have faced, or are facing in entrepreneurship? How have you overcome those challenges?
Esperanza: I have experienced three big challenges in the course of starting my business. One challenge is having financial capital to start my business. It’s hard as a new small business owner to get money for start up expenses. It’s even harder if you don’t want to take out a loan and get into debt. By God’s provision, I was able to get the money I needed from a variety of sources. I know that I would have had to start out in debt had it not been for God’s favor. Another challenge is making the time to work on my business versus in my business. My type of business requires me to provide direct service to clients, which takes up most of my day. As the only person working in my business I also have to take care of administrative tasks for client care and administrative tasks to sustain my business. With other commitments outside of my business this doesn’t leave a lot of time to grow my business in other areas. The third challenge has been especially emotionally draining. It’s experiencing and observing racism. There have been subtle and blatant experiences from the beginning that have only become more noticeable and painful during the pandemic. As a black woman, it’s difficult to focus on running a successful business when peers say racist comments, you reach financial obstacles that your white counterparts don’t experience, and while grieving the senseless injustices and deaths in your community that are a result of racism.
The best way I have found to overcome these challenges is in prayer. I ask God for wisdom, strength and will to keep going. He has shown me how to outsource for some tasks when needed, to learn from those who are more efficient in areas I struggle with, and to be honest with myself about what I need to be more successful. When it comes to dealing with the racism I experienced, God has helped me to advocate for myself and others, and has provided me comfort.
Me: What keys would you attribute to obtaining sustainability in your business?
Esperanza: The biggest thing that I attribute to obtaining sustainability in my business is good customer service. My clients find value in the services I provide. I also try to run my business so that clients are treated in a way that I would want myself or my loved ones to be treated. Because of clients’ experience with me, they are able to confidently refer others to me. Most of my clients have come to me by word of mouth, which is still the best type of marketing you can get. If you have a positive reputation in the community, your gift and skills will make room for you and you’ll find that you’ll always have “customers”.
Me: What tips/advice would you give someone who is thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship?
Esperanza: Do the things that God tells you to do in the season he tells you to do it. Otherwise you will be scrambling and making things harder for yourself. Also, being an entrepreneur is like being a farmer. You have to know what season you are in and act accordingly. God gives you a seed (idea) which you have to plant (take action on). As your seed starts to grow you have to remove any weeds growing around it (kill distractions and doubt). You also have to be intentional about fertilizing the plant so it doesn’t stop prematurely (have faith, and find ways to encourage yourself). Next comes the harvest (bring it to market/completion)! Lastly there is the distribution of your product. This is important because a God-given business idea is not just for your success, but for you to share with others so they can be blessed too.
Esperanza Gallón is a professional licensed counselor with a teacher’s heart and most importantly a lover of God. Esperanza owns “Hope is Here Counseling and Consulting Services LLC” in Cincinnati, Ohio. In this private practice she serves children and adults who are educators, creatives and in the helping professions. She is heavily involved in community work addressing social justice issues and building hope in darkness. She enjoys helping others find their true power and hope in difficult situations. She also loves Michael Jackson, traveling, music, film, spending time with loved ones and eating ice cream.
In other news, remember when I said I had a surprise announcement? Well, I am releasing my very first eBook “Self Publishing 101: Everything You Need to Know From One Author to Another” and will be hosting a virtual book launch this Saturday! This eBook is near and dear to my heart because it is the first time I will be helping others to publish their own books. I know there are a lot of you out there and my desire is that I can make the process a little smoother for you by offering these tips. So make sure to save the date and register on my link tree! Here is the link. See you soon!