Donna Thrash Kurpiers, LLC is a boutique counseling practice designed to address the specific career needs of men and women in Central Florida. She is set apart from others by her specialization and experience in career and workforce services coupled with over 15 years as a licensed personal counselor. We asked Donna a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey-
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I come from a long line of business owners. My mother’s grandmother owned and operated a boarding house in the 1940’s, my great aunt owned a dress shop outside of Chicago in the 30’s and 40’s. Grandpa owned several businesses throughout his lifetime and my mother has been a business owner for the past 30 years. I don’t believe anyone considered themselves “entrepreneurs”, rather they simply created their own opportunities from the needs and demands of their families and of their communities. So, you could say that I have never been afraid of the idea of starting a business.
I have recently launched my second business, Donna Thrash Kurpiers, LLC. It is a company that provides counseling, coaching and consulting services to individual clients and businesses throughout Central Florida. The driving force behind starting this business really stems from two tuggings on my heart. The first is the desire (need) to create balance in my life. As a wife and mother of two sons, family is my first priority. That means that I have to find or create work opportunities that are consistent with my values; that afford me the physical and mental presence I need with my family.
Secondly, I love to help people and believe I can make a difference in people’s lives. I love the field of psychology and am terribly curious about people and what motivates us.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1. Meet with a career counselor. Complete some assessments to learn more about yourself, your interests, your abilities, your own learning style and personality, your preferences etc. Talk with others who know you well, to gain additional perspectives about yourself as you are perceived by others.
2. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!! Find ways to get boots on the ground experience doing the kinds of work you may be interested in. Be curious, ask questions, learn as much as you can about the running of the business.
3. Consider working for a start-up company. The pay may be low, but the opportunities are endless. Since startups are often small companies, operating on a shoe string, employees typically have tons of opportunities to shine, to work in a dynamic environment and learn new skills fast.
4. I couldn’t help but add a 4th bit of advice. Take as many classes as you can to help develop business concepts and management styles, from finance to business law and marketing.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Crazyempowering (is that a word?)
What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
1. Know who you are, what you do, what makes you unique and what you are exceptionally good at (and exceptionally not good at).
2. Be honestly clear about your reasons for starting a business.
3. Research the heck out of the market. Where is your market? Who are your customers? Who is your competition? Is there a need for what you do/offer? How do you know? What will you do/sell that is different or better than everyone else out there?
4. Find a business coach. Thinking you can go this alone is a set up for failure.
5. Develop a business plan, then follow it, and tweak it as needed. Business plans are not to be written and then put up on a shelf never to be looked at again. In your business plan, develop a company mission and vision statement that will serve to guide your business focus, direction and daily operations.
6. Maintain exceptional personal wellness practices. Schedule time for exercise, get enough sleep, eat nutritiously, practice stress management, maintain a social life, include your family in your business conversations. Schedule time with your family. Running your own business is a 24/7 operation. You must be intentional about incorporating healthful practices into your week.