Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cara Heilmann, President of International Association of Career Coaches (IACC), located in Walnut Creek, CA, USA.

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

As president of the International Association of Career Coaches, I teach and mentor the next generation of career coaches. I've trained 130+ corporate leaders on the fundaments of career coaching so they can deliver desperately needed coaching in companies or launch their own successful career coaching businesses. I'm also the founder and executive career coach at Ready Reset Go. I help senior leaders and emerging leaders find jobs where they make big impacts and feel satisfied in their careers.

Tell us about yourself

I went into corporate Human Resources, believing it was a great way to help people. It didn't take me long to notice that I was mostly "helping" by breaking it to them that they no longer had a job. I wanted a role where I could empower people, not the opposite—and I realized that in career coaching, my deep knowledge of the business world and my sincere belief that everyone has a unique "zone of brilliance" they can leverage to make a living. What motivates me is my clients! Honestly, I fall in love with every single one of them. I love helping people find the right role and helping them approach it with confidence and clarity.

Here's my bio:
For the past 20 years, Cara has helped people get jobs. But not just any jobs, jobs they love. A former Chief Talent Officer and Human Resources executive at startups to large companies, including ARAMARK, Kaiser Permanente, and AMN Healthcare, she now trains future career coaches to build successful businesses so they can help people get jobs they love. Cara is President of the International Association of Career Coaches (IACC)®, a global consortium of professional career coaches, and founder and CEO of Ready Reset Go®. She is a recognized expert and has been featured in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Cara is a bestselling author of three books, The Art of Finding the Job You Love, Confessions of the Accidental Career Coach, and Ready, Set, Go! co-authored with world-renowned author and speaker Brian Tracy. Cara holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management and a Bachelor of Business from the University of Hawaii. She is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, a Senior Professional Career Coach, a Master Professional Career Coach, and a member of the invitation-only FORBES® Coaches Council.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

When you're a solopreneur, it's a huge moment when you commit to having employees—I now have three wonderful humans on my own payroll, which is amazing. I was also incredibly honored when the IACC said they wanted to use my personal method for training career coaches as theirs and asked me to join the leadership team so I could leverage my business savvy and MBA to show other career coaches how to launch a successful career coaching business.

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

It's definitely demanding when you're responsible for every role in a business. For people like me, face-to-face time with clients is everything, and having to also be your own bookkeeper, your own marketing staff, and your own help desk can steal away time you'd rather be spending on your clients. For me at this point, I also wonder what's next sometimes: After ten years, should I consider selling the business? What is my exit strategy?

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

  1. Find mentors. It's really important to learn from people who've been there, done that.
  2. Get calluses. No matter how savvy, talented, or experienced you are, as a first-time business owner, you will experience "failures," have periods of financial instability, and be confronted with tasks that are necessary but that you're not passionate about doing. Successful business-builders are risk-tolerant people who don't overly internalize every disappointment, awkward moment, or setback.
  3. Don't make things harder than they need to be. Some people stall on the creation of a promising business over seriously small-potatoes stuff, like a fear of public speaking or a belief that they can't build a compelling website. Be honest with yourself about your skill gaps, and address them, or get help where it's available. Sure, when you're not turning a profit, yet it can be hard to commit to paying outside vendors, but investing in yourself pays material and psychological dividends.

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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