Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in organizational development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Mary McConner, CDE®, Founder and Principal of Inclusive Excellence Consulting, located in Memphis, TN, USA.

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

Inclusive Excellence Consulting is a full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. Our clients range from Fortune 500 corporations to nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and professional associations. Our signature services include in-person and virtual workshops and training, strategy development, organizational culture and climate assessments, equity audits, and one-on-one DEI coaching. Through these services, Inclusive Excellence Consulting helps both individuals and organizations maximize their potential for exceptional success in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Tell us about yourself

Navigating the workforce as a Black dyslexic woman who is hard of hearing has allowed me to experience firsthand the importance of centering equity, accessibility, and inclusion in organizational systems, cultures, and practices. I have dedicated much of my professional career to understanding the evolving challenges impacting different organizational cultures and how to foster environments committed to equity and inclusive excellence.

When I founded Inclusive Excellence Consulting in December 2021, I established my consulting firm with the goal of centering the human experience. At Inclusive Excellence Consulting, we believe that focusing on the business case for DEI alone is not enough to help organizations maximize the power that equity and inclusive diversity brings, which is why we develop people-centered, data-informed services and solutions that are tailored to the intimate needs of the organizations we serve.

We provide customized strategies, resources, training, and professional development opportunities that enable organizations to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the core of organizational functioning. Every workshop and training that we offer is highly informative and engaging. Every strategic framework we help to develop is specifically designed to align with organizations' missions, values, long-term goals, and desired outcomes.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In 2022, I was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 Urban Elite Professional by Cynthia Daniels & Co. I was specifically recognized for my achievements as an entrepreneur, which is a great honor. To be recognized for my work as a business owner and principal consultant confirmed that my work is making a difference.

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

Business ownership is rewarding, and there is no better feeling than creating your own legacy, but it definitely comes with unique challenges. One of the hardest things for me was having to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As a business owner, you have to be flexible, agile and prepared to pivot when necessary. Being able to adapt to change is necessary for business growth and success.

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

  1. Create your own personal "Board of Mentors." There is nothing like being able to rely on the expertise of mentors who understand what business ownership entails.
  2. Never stop learning. People are constantly evolving. Society is constantly evolving. Technology is constantly evolving. Lifelong learning is important for anyone who wants to operate and grow a business.
  3. I highly encourage business owners to embrace every phase of their entrepreneurial journeys. Sometimes you will have setbacks, and sometimes you will have major wins. It is all a part of the process.

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.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.