Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jim Blackburn, Senior Partner at SURVE Partners, located in Avon Lake, OH, USA.

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

Assisting people with finding different and better ways to experience the dailiness of their lives. People who benefit most from my counsel are in roles responsible for influencing others and who are capable of introspection and self-examination.

Tell us about yourself

A common thread throughout my life has been my evolution from being a “teacher” to becoming a “learning facilitator” with the ability to promote the value and potential of another person through unique, insightful, and provocative counsel. I began my professional life as a school teacher/athletic coach, then transitioned into the financial services industry for a 25-year career as a salesperson, sales trainer, and general manager.

In 1995, at age 52, I turned the page on my professional life as I left the financial services industry and founded what ultimately has become SURVE Partners, a unique and innovative consultancy focusing primarily on the Art and Science of Personal and Professional Development. My motive for this dramatic professional transition was based on my increasing awareness of my own personal struggles with finding meaning, fulfillment, and happiness as a highly paid professional working for an international insurance company. As a result, I have created and pioneered unique learning processes that contribute directly to the significant increase of a person’s ability to be more productive and influential while at the same time experiencing a more fulfilling and meaningful life.​

Men and women who have benefited from my work are from all walks of life and of different ethnicities, that include business leaders, religious leaders, entrepreneurs, sales professionals, professional service providers, educators, students, and more.

​In 2011, I wrote and published my first book, “seeds of Intent,” which became an Amazon “Best Seller” in November of that year. I wrote this book for the person who has the desire to live life more fully while experiencing less worry, fear, and/or struggle. Throughout the book, I share examples of my own struggles and learnings from those struggles to help the readers better understand that their lives are, in essence, their instruments of learning and that they are not their past. The book has had many powerful reviews, including one from Kirkus Reviews, known as the world’s toughest book critic.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The many people who I have helped find the key to living a life well lived as well as becoming more impactful in the lives of others.

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

Given the uncertainties of the business environment, the responsibility for making decisions that contribute to the sustainable growth of the business as well as the well-being of the people working in the business.

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

  1. Be clear on the purpose of the business and how it differs from what the business does.
  2. Know the difference between working in the business and working on the business.
  3. Sustainable business growth only occurs when the people working in the business are growing, which includes the business owner.

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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