Iyabo Asani is not a first-time entrepreneur.
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She previously ran a small law firm that was focused on real estate.
When the real estate market crashed, she had the opportunity to reinvent herself, which she did by creating a new business that has absolutely nothing to do with law or real estate.
Iyabo, you've made the transition from owning one business to owning a completely different business. Tell us, what type of firm you had before you ventured into your current business?
I am an attorney. I owned my own private law firm for almost 15 years. We had three attorneys and six support staff. My specialty was residential real estate. We were located in the Atlanta area.
Because of the downturn in the market, I had to shut down the practice in April 2008. I let all the staff go. I turned in my key to the Landlord. I put all the files in the basement of my home. Then I sat down to think what to do now.
I started to realize how miserable I was. I did not want to take on any law cases. I felt like a failure. The circumstances under which I closed the office down owing everyone money did not feel good. I felt out of integrity. I wanted to find my center again.
I had a life coach at the time. I had hired her three years earlier. Through a lot of help, I realized that I wanted to help people but in a different way. I had gotten tired of putting a band aid on people's problems and I was much more fascinated with how people got into such repeated patterns of behavior.
So how did you transform that personal observation into a new business?
I am now a personal coach! My business is Authentic Change Coaching, based in Duluth, Georgia – although my clients are all over the country.
I coach my clients to embrace change and create authenticity in their lives using self-leadership principles, positive psychology and the latest findings in brain science.
I am very focused on creativity. I believe that creativity is one of the hallmarks of a person's individuality. Whether or not your particular brand of creativity is public, it is what makes you unique. My blog is my own creative expression that merges my profession with my creativity.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur instead of simply looking for another job?
I could not figure out what other kind of job to do. Being an attorney, you learn new areas of law based on apprenticeship. Continuing legal education classes do not really cover the nuts and bolts of how to get into a new area of law.
And I was just fed up with the practice of law. I love to read and find new information and connect the dots with the information, so being a coach was perfect for me.
Did you buy a business or start a business from scratch?
I started from scratch. What was a challenge for me was going from a bricks and motar business to an internet based business.
I do a lot of social networking to connect with new people on line and that is my client base. The learning curve online has been a challenge.
However, I have great support and I have created many wonderful new resources. It is amazing how many people out there in the social networking world want to help you.
That must be nice to have so many folks out there who want to help you. I imagine you could have started many different kinds of businesses. How did you decide what kind of business to go into?
I evaluated my skills and figured out what would make me happier.
This took some time. I cherish flexibility. I wanted a market that had no caps or limitations. I wanted a market that I could do from anywhere in the world. I wanted to do something where I could be creative. All of this led me to coaching.
I'm certain that owning this new business is very different from what you were doing before. What are some of the biggest differences? What do you miss? What don't you miss?
I do not miss making payroll. I do not miss having a storefront where people can walk off the street and demand your services. I do not miss that each and every client is in crisis.
I miss my secretary. She was the best in the world and stood with me until the end. She is still a personal friend.
What advice would you give to somebody who is leaving the life of working for a company to go out on their own?
Don't panic. I am constantly amazed how everything has not gone as expected but has fallen in place. Be nice. Fess up if you do not know something. People will run to you to help you out.
Be patient with yourself with new learning. Play and have lots of fun with it. Let it feed your creativity. You will keep a fresh perspective if you visit your creative mode often.
Anything else you'd care to share with us regarding your transition from real estate law to starting a completely different business?
I am amazed as to how my body has responded. I had no idea how much stress I was undergoing by just running that business. I had no idea how far away I had gotten from who I am.
For the first time since high school, 27 years ago, I have had time to think and read and write and plot and plan. It has been a little scary, especially financially, but I look back and see that everything has truly been just fine.
Truly, closing that stressful business down, was the best thing that I ever did! I am not sure if you can use this story but it is a slightly different slant to what you are asking for and I think an important slant.
It's great actually. We are mostly focused on the transition from employee to employer, but a transition from owning one business, closing a business down, and starting something entirely new is also very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Much appreciated!