It gives me great pleasure to introduce my Entrepreneur Blog Series today. This is my first of what I hope will be many interesting posts where I will share interviews that I have had with some very awesome entrepreneurs. It is so exciting to meet these amazing people and I am very grateful for their willingness to share their story and to inspire you on your entrepreneurship journey.
Today I am chatting with a very inspiring lady and entrepreneur, Suzanne Kapral. Suzanne is a fundraising consultant with experience in the non-profit world for more than 20 years.
In 2013, Suzanne launched a unique therapeutic program, a farm-based children’s grief camp for kids who have experienced trauma. This is very unique because it is actually held on a dairy farm in the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. And what they do is they combine farm activities i.e. farm chores, animal assisted therapies, grief education and grief therapy sessions.
The whole idea is to get the children outdoors, working in nature, working with the farm animals, understanding where their food comes from, the importance of respecting the earth, the importance of respecting all the critters that are on a farm and really appreciating the fact that in some cases, these animals, not necessarily here on the farm, but in general, give their lives so we could eat. And that is not something that anyone should take lightly.
They want the children to understand the grief process, the ebb and flow of the grief, and that you can even be happy during grief. That it’s okay. There’s no reason to feel guilty if you’re feeling happy during the grief process. And Suzanne thinks that what is exceptionally important is for these children to know that they’re not alone and that they didn’t cause the situation that happened to them, they’re not responsible for fixing it.
So, I asked Suzanne some specific questions related to her entrepreneurship journey:
What are your biggest struggles and your challenges in the work that you do and as an entrepreneur?
“I’ll tell you one thing that I go through and and I’ve spoken to other women who go through this as well. It doesn’t matter how much we’ve accomplished, we have this imposter syndrome where we think (it comes from a level of perfectionism I guess), oh my gosh, you know what, what if this is just all goes poof! What if somebody thinks that I really don’t know what I am doing or that they are no longer going to fund my project. I have to work through these feelings when they arise because I have to look at the greater good and I have to look at serving children and humanity. So that keeps me going.
It is hard, a few would think that we provide the service free of charge for the children, but I am always fundraising, always looking for opportunities to fund this project so that the kids and families have no financial stress, no financial burdens to attend this camp. I need to be clear and succinct and demonstrate to potential funders and current funders the value of investing in this project. This is an ongoing challenge. I need to keep telling my story better and better, it keeps me on my toes and keeps me focussed on providing the best possible quality, service that is out there”.
Social Media Challenges
“It is critical that you continue to tell your story in the most effective way. And right now this is using social media. In the olden days everything was print and broadcast (TV/radio) and you would have to see something seven times before it stuck in your mind. Now we are flooded by social media and we are getting bombarded with images.
So you need to stick to only a few sentences that’s going to grab and keep the attention of those who you are trying to reach. The algorithms are changing all the time, so we need to keep on top of it. What worked for me last month is not necessarily going to work for me this month.
Testimonials are a huge benefit. Even if it’s only one or two individuals, this is powerful because if you actually have people who you have served in the past and they can give solid examples of how you made a difference, that has a lot of value. Your audience needs to understand the value of your images and the value of your message. You want to keep it consistent”.
“Another thing that I believe was a challenge at the beginning is pricing. I always had a tendency to charge too low and that is not necessarily the best way because you know your expertise, you know your value and you know what you bring to the table. If you have a high-quality product and you can over deliver, then you should charge accordingly”.
How do you balance your time between your part-time work and your business?
“This is for me always a work in progress. I do my best work in the morning. I am usually up at 5:00 AM and to get up at 5:00 AM and be refreshed I usually need to be reading in bed and say by 9, 10, o’clock at the latest I go to sleep because I need my sleep. I’m not going to say I’m perfect as I get sucked in, in the morning, quickly checking emails or quickly checking social media to see how a post is doing.
My part-time work is flexible which really helps. I still have my projects and deadlines, but I can work my part-time hours flexibly around my business hours.
You need to build yourself a routine. Say from 5 to 5.30 I do this, and from 5.30 to 6 I do this. I’m still running a home. There are things that need to get done. If you can get yourself to the point where you allocate time, and also sacred time for yourself, then you’re going to get things done and be your most productive with the least amount of stress.
Self care is not selfish. When you take care of yourself, you could be better for your job, for your family, for your friends, for your children. When we neglect ourselves and we continue to try to pour from an empty cup, this is just not good for you and will lead to burnout. Even whilst going for a walk you could be on a kind of autopilot and your brain could be processing things that are going to help you win. So, take the time for yourself, it’s absolutely beneficial for the greater good for you”.
Where do you go? What do you do when you’re stuck?
“I go to my online tribe that I have. There are women groups I am in that I can bounce ideas, or where I can share my challenges. And usually someone is either going through the same thing, or they recently went through the same thing. And in many cases, there is just a logical solution of what you could do next which is extremely helpful.
You also get incredible perspectives, it’s good to walk across the hall or maybe talk to a local but when you’re trying to build a business and you want to reach the masses, it is absolutely ideal that we can communicate with one another. And it’s what I call a safe space. There’s never any judgment. There’s never any ridicule or jealousy, it’s truly a support system. And I think it’s critical for women to have a support system of other women who are also trying to build businesses to help and share”.
Have you had moment of overwhelm and how did you cope?
“I have actually had several moments of overwhelm. I can tell you usually what brings me out of it. I have to just stop and try to piece together why I’m feeling overwhelmed. And it’s usually because I’m trying to do everything at once, or I’m feeling overwhelmed because I have not asked for help, that I have a feeling that I need to do everything at once. And then when I start to look at it logically, I can break it down and say, okay, this needs to be done before I can go here. I can’t have this whole, I call it, the pizza pie. You look at this huge pie and you’re like, oh my, I can’t eat this whole thing. But when you start to take small pieces around and around, before you know it, its eaten.
When I can get myself to the place where I think logically again about the situation, and I understand that I’m trying to do everything at once, I think about why I’m doing what I’m doing, what is the mission of my work? What is the end result of my work? And in my case, it is to help children who have experienced horrible trauma in their life. And that stops me because it’s no longer about me when I get overwhelmed. It puts the focus where it belongs and that is serving the children”.
What do you think could really help your business to move forward?
“More exposure. I can tell you that locally doing what I have been doing here with this type of service for children who have experienced trauma, we just finished our seventh year and there are still people in my neck of the woods who say I had no idea this was going on”.
In closing, what is your golden piece of advice that you would like to share with other entrepreneurs?
“I would share that if you feel it in your gut, believe it’s the universe talking to you. And that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have to work hard or you’re not going to have disappointments, but it is going to be worth it. And there are people out there who want to see you succeed and they’re cheering you on.
If you have something that keeps speaking to you, that is definitely a calling and you need to go with it. It could change a little bit as time goes on but that’s all part of the journey.
As frustrating and taxing and financially stressful it could be when you’re launching your own business or even working in your own business for years, remember the power of serving. And you’re actually serving, even if it’s a product, even if it’s a widget or if it’s something like we’re doing with our grief camp, you are serving the greater good and you are touching future generations”.
If you have questions or if you would simply like to reach out to Suzanne, here are her contact details:
Email address: Suzanne@suzannekapral.com
Thank you so much Suzanne! I wish you much success and happiness on your entrepreneurship journey.