Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Hilary Maag, CEO of SIGN Academy, located in Blaine, MN, USA.

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

S.I.G.N. Academy stands for Signing, Interpreting, Growing, and Networking. Our goal is to connect people around the country and help them grow as sign language learners and sign language interpreters. We are proud to offer you fun, flexible, and personalized growth opportunities! We offer sign language lessons, workshops, webinar series, interpreter mentoring sessions, interpreter skill assessments, and customized training for school districts, groups, and teams. We want to help as many people as we can to learn sign language and/or improve their interpreting skills. We want the world to be accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and we are doing our part to make a difference!

Tell us about yourself

I am passionate about helping other people grow their interpreting and language skills. I have spent most of my career training sign language interpreters, and over the last few years, I have also been working with sign language learners. As a hearing child with deaf and hard-of-hearing family members, I saw the positive impact when people used sign language to communicate. I want to see as many people as possible learn sign language to provide communication access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Due to my own genetic hearing loss as an adult, I have also become aware first-hand of the importance of language access. I hold a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and am an experienced professor with over 18 years of post-secondary teaching experience. My doctoral research focused on online training and sign language. I am also a nationally certified sign language interpreter and have been interpreting for over 21 years.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Through S.I.G.N. Academy, I have been able to increase the number of hearing people who are able to sign and communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing people. I have also been able to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing people with job opportunities.

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

The hardest part of being a business owner is never getting to take a day off.

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

My top three tips are to find something you are passionate about, listen to your gut, and take risks!

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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