Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nicole Smith, Founder and CEO of JMS Creative Leadership Solutions, located in Huntersville, NC, USA.

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

JMS Creative Leadership Solutions is a boutique leadership development and coaching practice that helps leaders and aspiring leaders transform from top performers to exemplary leaders. The foundation of our workshops, coaching programs, and speaking engagements is emotional intelligence and guiding individuals to gain self-awareness, clarity on goals, and how to execute, as well as to reignite confidence to thrive personally and professionally.

Our clients are individuals who are currently leading teams or business who needs to increase and leverage their leadership capabilities, as well as aspiring leaders who want to level up in not only increasing the bottom line but increase their self-awareness to unlock their potential and show up with leadership presence in the workplace. JMS Creative Leadership Solution also works with organizations that have teams that want to make a significant impact as they work together as a dynamic team.

Our clients usually have been in the workforce for 10+ years and know there is more to their purpose and how they desire to show up and show off their strengths and talents personally and professionally. JMS Creative Leadership Solutions guide them through steps to gain clarity to make a significant impact!

Tell us about yourself

I started in the corporate world 26 years ago and began my business. It was like many other entrepreneurs - a side gig! The challenges and wins I have had in the corporate world taught me many lessons that I felt needed to be shared with other leaders and aspiring leaders. I dove into emotional intelligence, which changed my life and made me a better version of myself personally and professionally. I noticed myself getting excited to share this capability with others and saw how my natural coaching and speaking ability was helping others. Still, I wasn't sure of my service or product just yet. The good, bad, and ugly I experienced and how I handled them made me realize I had a gift to share. I began my educational journey by learning more about leadership, emotional intelligence, and talent management.

Every day, I help and serve people so they can be the best version of themselves. Also - I love to speak. I love to share information that will add value to people's life. I can't help but share that one of my values is freedom. Being a business does give me the freedom that I couldn't reach in the corporate world, hence the reason for dropping out four years ago...of the corporate world and sharing my strengths and talents with others on my own terms, however as I genuinely see the world needs right now.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is when I noticed that many of my clients (individuals and organizations) came from word of mouth versus paid advertising. This may not seem BIG to others; however, this signifies to me as the owner that the work we do is making a difference in people's lives, and they want others to experience the transformation. This affirms that my purpose is truly my purpose, not a fly-by-night passion or hobby. My goal is to share the knowledge I have gained over my 26 years of corporate experience and many of those years in leadership. When I hear clients tell me that they heard of me through another colleague or they attended a speaking engagement and I "spoke to them" directly, these comments remind me why I began JMS Creative Leadership Solutions. It allows others to see a little bit of themselves in me and that even though leadership can be challenging at the time, there are moments you can shine and truly show up in your strengths and talents and that people you lead will genuinely appreciate when you do!

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

One of the hardest things about being a business owner is consistently having a CEO mindset. This means balancing leading and developing your team as well as strategizing and planning for the future of the business. I hope I always empower and encourage my team to have autonomy and lean into their strengths, as there will be times that I will have to head down in the business to ensure it is sustainable. Of course, I remind myself that my team helps me do just that. But as a business owner, I sometimes can't be in the weeds. I have to stay above the fray, continue to see the big picture, and allow them to run the day-to-day operations. This can be difficult at times, but it is nice to have a team that says, "We got this!" and I trust that they do - and this trust has been built over time!

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

Before giving three quick tips, I would like to advise you to deeply understand the service or product you want to share with your audience before starting a business. Understand why and where this passion comes from. What values are rooted in this passion? In addition, ask yourself who your audience is and what value they will gain from your service or product. After you spend some time gaining clarity on this, I would give these three quick tips: Decide, Commit, and Be Consistent!

  1. Deciding starts the feeling of peace and contentment you will gain once you have clarity on starting, running, and growing your business. Deciding on your thoughts around the business maintains the clarity you have gained about starting a business.
  2. Committing to this decision helps one turn the dream of a business into goals and then those goals into steps. I truly feel that once someone commits to any decision, it gives a sense of execution and that they can move forward without knowing how they will make it happen.
  3. Being consistent helps turn the work being executed to start, run, and grow the business into a habit that helps one grow the CEO mindset! This mindset allows one to leverage emotional intelligence to handle crises and chaos with grace and executive presence. Being consistent in having a growth mindset, courage, and heart will make the entrepreneurship journey impactful.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I always share with individuals how emotional intelligence changed my life. I share the steps I took to help me increase and leverage my EQ. The beauty of this journey of being a business owner has afforded me the opportunity to truly reflect and gain self-awareness. However, I say it is a journey and never one that is done. I never say it will be easy, but I say it will be well worth it. JMS Creative Leadership Solutions helps one define their ideal state, look at their current state and see what steps need to be taken in "the gap." The gap is where transformation happens. One just has to have the courage to jump and jump forward.

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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