Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ellen Gillis, Founder of Gillis Group LLC, located in Sudbury, MA, USA.

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

I created Gillis Group, a consulting company that serves leaders and teams through development opportunities and coaching. Leaders range from managers to those at the C-level who are looking to move past challenges and hone skills. Teams are often coming together to kick off new relationships or repair existing ones.

Tell us about yourself

I spent over 20 years in the Learning & Development and HR spaces, and during the pandemic, I started my own consulting and coaching business. At the core of who I am, I like to help people. My motivation comes from those "a-ha!" moments that clients have, those breakthroughs and demonstrated skills that they are excited about. That excites me as well and keeps me going to learn new concepts and techniques.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Definitely starting a business in a worldwide pandemic. I had been laid off from my job due to COVID-19, and thought, "Well, what better time to try this..." It has been a cool ride so far, and I'm proud to have had a number of great clients and successful engagements in the past three years. I figure if I could start in 2020, I could do anything!

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

The hardest thing I've experienced is both "doing" the business and "running" the business at the same time. The things that energize me are connections and relationships. It can be a bit lonely on your own, and there is much to be done when starting up - from establishing yourself as an entity to invoices to gaining clients. I find consistent networking and gatherings with other consultants and friends help lift my energy if I'm bogged down with administrative tasks. It's an interesting balance as both are vital to success.

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

  1. Find others who are doing what you are doing, and learn from them. I was a bit lost in the beginning as I had never run my own business. There is much to learn! But you don't have to do it on your own. Find experts who have had successes and failures as they've launched, and learn valuable lessons.
  2. Get clear on what you offer and who you serve. This is something I continue to gain clarity on. The more narrow your focus, the easier it can be to network with and market to the right people. It will build your confidence as well if you can clearly state how you can serve others.
  3. Ensure you are doing what you need to keep yourself motivated. As I said, it can get a bit lonely out here on my own when I was used to friends at work, teams, and even a consistent office setting (which I know many of us have missed.) I will sometimes work at the library for a change of scenery. I have weekly connect meetings with fellow coaching friends. I network often for coffee and lunch with people - as it's great to be back out in the world. These things keep me motivated to keep driving toward helping more clients in this new entrepreneurial world.

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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