Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Farhana Huq, Founder of Surf Life Executive Coaching, located in Oakland, CA, USA.

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

My business is called Surf Life Executive Coaching. Surf Life's mission is to help architects, designers, and creative leaders transition to a life and business filled with purpose, choice, and impact in service to their values, the well-being of humanity, and our planet.

Surf Life's customers are creative individuals and teams wanting to take their leadership and life to the next level. They are looking for more clarity in their vision and trajectory, more confidence in their speaking and interpersonal skills, and more calmness overall in their work and lives. Surf Life serves creative leaders in the architecture and design space as well as creative leaders in the non-profit and social justice arenas.

Tell us about yourself

My background is in non-profits. I founded and spent 11 years running a non-profit supporting low-income immigrant and refugee women to become entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area. I then founded a platform called brown girl surf – to elevate the visibility of and support women of color surfers and to diversify surf culture locally and globally. I first worked with a leadership coach running my first non-profit, which helped transform me as a leader in so many ways. I continued working with executive coaches in various capacities as I led organizations and created new ones. I had always coached my friends in various ways and really enjoyed it. During my executive transition, I wondered if I could do it for a living. I enrolled in coaching school and got properly certified to learn coaching skills and techniques. Then I opened Surf Life Executive Coaching.

I am highly motivated when I talk with a leader or leadership team, and they can openly express their challenges, frustrations, aspirations, and hopes for their leadership and lives. The greater their challenges, the more motivated I feel. This can range from finding the courage to start their own firm and actually doing it to finding ways to manage and move through anxiety in their leadership and lives to being honest and vulnerable about interpersonal dynamics that are occurring for them in their relationships.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is always hands down when my clients and I review their goals on our last session, and they see they were able to accomplish all of them as a result of our work together. That always feels like the most important accomplishment. Also, I will be approaching my 10th year in business this Fall, and I feel that is a huge accomplishment. There are always ups and downs in business, and I'm grateful I can still do meaningful work and use the knowledge and experience I acquired over the past 9 years to really help leaders have more impact.

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

Businesses can sometimes feel up and down like the ocean and tides – it's ever-changing. I think one of the hardest things is weathering ambiguity and the unknown in business, including cash flow, launching new programs, and reaching new people with them. Things hardly ever go exactly to plan, so it often takes a leap of faith and being really creative in solutions to address problems as they arise.

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

  1. Spend time connecting your business idea with your greater purpose. When you feel you are on purpose and in service to bigger values and vision in your life, it really impacts the energy and momentum of your business. Connecting and having clarity of purpose is hugely important.
  2. Just start. Sometimes you can spend a lot of time planning for a business, hemming, and hawing over what to do and IF you should do it. If you can just start somewhere, you will learn so much about your business. It might mean getting a pilot product developed and sharing it with your friends or just delivering a service for free to get feedback from friends or colleagues. Just start, and to the best of your ability, start with the smallest step you could take.
  3. Get feedback and constantly seek to improve your service or product. This will help your business better meet your client's needs and improve your services' value and impact. When you can show value and impact, you can really build a base to grow your business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Take care of yourself when starting, running, or growing your business. As the leader, how you treat yourself will trickle down into all aspects of your business, so learn to treat yourself well, have boundaries, and value your time and efforts.

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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