As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vasavi Kumar. She leads the coaching industry with 10 years of experience, and has helped thousands of women overcome major life obstacles to create new heights of success. Her work is known internationally from speaking engagements in India and across the USA. Vasavi is recognized for getting to the bottom of the intersection of self and business roadblocks and her methods teach clients how to master the art of getting what you want, by mastering their mind.
Vasavi is the Founder of the MIND Your Own Business membership community, Licensed Therapist, and Host of the Being Human with Vasavi podcast. Vasavi holds dual Masters degrees in Special Education from Hofstra University and Social Work from Columbia University. She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, FOX, VH1, and was a regular on NBC’s Kansas City Live as the “Keepin’ It Real Guru.” She believes that when you cultivate a solid relationship with yourself, you can be, do, and create anything you want.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
During the pandemic, I wanted to create a space that would allow women who were looking to pivot to come together — learn, grow, and connect with one another. When you’re a woman in business, whether you’re new in business or a few years in, it can get really overwhelming and isolating. I created the MIND Your Own Business membership community to help women with their mindset and business. We often focus more on strategy, and yet we forget that we have to continuously nurture our mindset to continue to move forward. I wanted to create a space where women could come together and share their trials and tribulations in business AND in life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when I first started my business was changing my target audience based on every person I spoke to. I had a deep desire to help EVERYONE and as a result, I would often become a chameleon based on who I was talking to. It was exhausting!
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I first started my company ten years ago, my purpose was to help my clients see that that are capable, smart, and worthy of anything they wanted. Ultimately, my mission has always been to impact as many people as possible. At the end of the day I wanted my clients to know that they have everything they need inside of them to be, do, and create anything they want.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
I first had to get clear myself. I had to clear on my core values and then be able to clearly articulate those values in every conversation, interaction, and marketing copy that represented my company.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
YES! My dad, Shanti Kumar, is an Indian immigrant. He ran his own CPA practice for 40+ years and he instilled me with one core principle: Service first. My #1 goal is to always leave anyone that is in my presence feel seen and heard.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I first got into business for myself I struggled a ton with how much I should charge. I felt guilty asking for “too much.” My educational background in social work primed me to ask for less because I felt selfish asking for more. There were a few points in my business where I definitely wanted to give up. I even took a “break” from my business and went to culinary school, and even during culinary school I found myself constantly in entrepreneurial mode, and helping my classmates with their business goals and starting their culinary business. I owe my drive to get up everyday to both my parents. They instilled in me an incomparable work ethic and a “no matter what” attitude. I’m also very self-motivated and am clear that my sole purpose for being on the Earth is to make a difference in the lives of others.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Things are going fantastic today and my business continues to grow and impact people on a daily basis! My company’s core values are Service, Integrity, and Respect. At the end of the day, I want my potential and current clients know that they are in good hands. That they are worth listening to, that they are dealing with someone who has a high level of integrity, and that they are fully respected, exactly as they are.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Develop your mindset.- Know how you operate. Understand your triggers. When you know yourself, you’re no longer stifled by obstacles and challenges. You will begin to work through any issues and problems that come throughout your business journey.
- Leverage your story. People want to have a personal connection with the brands they do business with. Stop trying to be perfect. If you are service-based business owner, you ARE the service. Share your story, be real, and let people get to see who you are. At the end of the day people want to feel connected and “gotten.”
- Harness your voice. Stop trying to sound like everyone else. Learn to talk out loud while you’re writing so you can HEAR what you sound like. You have a unique voice, and not everyone may agree with what you have to say, but ultimately your job isn’t to be liked by everyone. It’s to connect with the people who you are meant to reach and connect with.
- Take full responsibility for every outcome. When you first start your business, and even if you’ve been many years in your business — YOU are responsible for how things operate. It’s easy to blame others for mishaps and challenges, and if you can employ a mentality of extreme personal responsibility, you will feel a lot more in control, rather than being a victim of your circumstances.
- Become an effective communicator. How you say things matter. If you want to be a more effective marketer, salesperson, and overall better CEO, you need to develop emotional intelligence. Put yourself in the shoes of clients, customers, social media audience, employees, vendors, and think twice before you speak once. At the end fo the day you want to leave anyone you meet with their dignity intact.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am grateful to my father, Shanti Kumar. He believed in me from day one of me starting my business. No idea of mine was every too crazy for him. He taught me the value of kindness and having a service-first mindset. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his belief in me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Man this is a great question. Where do I even begin? I would love to start a movement where people started turning inwards for guidance. I would want people to face themselves in the mirror and realize that no matter what they’ve gone through, that they are GOOD human beings. So many people think so low about themselves. They’ve been conditioned to believe that they aren’t good enough because of something a parent, teacher, colleague, or family member said to them. I would want everyone to know that they are limitless in their potential and that when they KNOW themselves, they can be, do, and crate anything they want.
How can our readers follow you on social media?