Meet Guildstreet’s feature small business: Empowerment Inc.
What happens when you combine the experience of a seasoned street cop with a leadership coach and development professional? Goosebumps. And an incredible business that enables women to feel empowered.
For this month’s small business feature, Guildstreet interviewed the Chief Empowerment Officer, Shelley Hayes of Empowerment Inc. Their mission is to raise women’s empowerment. By teaching assertive communication, self-advocacy, powerful negotiation and physical self-defence, Shelley and her partner, former police officer and now Head Empowerment Warrior, Lynn MacDonald, are helping women become their best selves — their own heroines.
We asked Shelley to share some of her experience and her more memorable challenges and successes as an entrepreneur.
How did Empowerment Inc come to be?
“Even now, both Lynn and I are hit with a proverbial “DUH” when we think about all the ways our values and our work collide,” says Shelley.
In fact, it wasn’t always so obvious. Having spent the better part of her career fostering professional growth, the connection with women’s empowerment and self-defence wasn’t always clear. One day, on a whim, she asked Lynn if she could watch her work and almost immediately the dots connected. Their work was completely aligned. Same goal. Same outcome. Different process. The seeds for Empowerment Inc. were rooted.
What was the goal of the business?
By combining communication, emotion and the body; by marrying verbal strength, spatial strength and emotional strength, they envisioned holistically supporting women in developing life-long resiliency.
Through their programs, Shelley and Lynn want women to be empowered to do things like:
- Get the pay they deserve
- Have a voice in the meeting room
- Have the relationships they desire
- Viscerally experience their power
- Feel safe
What were some of the challenges and successes you faced?
A couple of challenges stand out for Shelley. First, she had to take the time to step back and recognize it’s okay to have have a job that is meaningful, aligned with your values and that brings real help to people. Sure, it’s always important to pay your bills. But doing work you love and work that is profitable doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Second, she also struggled to find the right formula for work and life balance. As someone with a strong drive for learning and improving, the entrepreneur journey only amplified those desires. In particular, it was hard to find the will to pull back and take a break, especially when the business was growing. Now, Shelley reminds herself that while it’s important to give your business effort, the things that are lasting — relationships, experiences and adventure — require effort and attention, too.
One of the best parts of her journey, Shelley reflects, are the incredible connections she’s made. “Through initiatives like ATB’s X Accelerator entrepreneur program and the Camp Hoo-ha women’s social group, I’ve connected with like-minded individuals who really get the emotional rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur.”
Items on your business set-up checklist?
Shelley wanted her business to be set up with safety and integrity in mind; with a foundation that needed to be solid, including:
- Creating the proper legal framework
- Finding the right insurance coverage
- Keeping the business plan and marketing strategy aligned with your core values
- Finding the right accounting and bookkeeping team (and a good place to start your hunt for a great firm is at Guildstreet!)
- Tapping into the network
Shelley’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Take time to rest. Because the hustle will still be there when you wake up the next morning.
- Remember why you started the journey: to have freedom and autonomy to be your own boss.
- Stay inspired and grounded. Talk to other entrepreneurs at different levels of their journey.
- Look inward. What is your risk tolerance? What is your emotional IQ? Your resilience level? Be realistic.
- Understand your impact and ask yourself “what if you could just help one person today?”
- Trust yourself and listen to your gut.
Learn more about Shelley and Empowerment Inc. on their website: https://empowermentinc.ca