Michelle Dixon Founder & CEO of Kindred Global Mentorship. Holistic life coach & mother
I came to entrepreneurship from necessity, rather than life-long ambition. I earned a Ph.D. in Economics when I was 26, and shortly after that had three children and was home with them for many years. When my marriage ended in my late 30s, due to a combination of factors, I was left with nothing. In the early stages, I was on welfare, and to furnish my home was taking furniture off the road from Council Cleanup, selling clothes my children had outgrown, and making crazy choices between buying all the food we needed versus shoes for fast-growing kids’ feet. This was the lowest point of my life: not knowing how I could provide for my children or make my rent each month. It led to chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and yet, underneath all of that, a very hungry determination to create something amazing. Yes, I experienced all of these emotions at once. I wanted, most of all, to show my children that you could go from nothing to something.
As I’d not been employed when my children were small, I decided the best way to support myself was to create a business which allowed me to still be with them after school, so I became a life coach, qualified in hypnotherapy, NLP, and more – all training funded by credit cards!
Within two years I had built a business with a regular client base in Sydney and in North America via Skype, which has included me giving workshops and running personal development retreats. What I have found most gratifying is being able to help my clients believe in themselves, as self-love is the foundation of all tangible success. I have had a mentor for my coaching work who has been key to helping me understand who I am in that space, and how to build my business accordingly.
Two years ago I decided to create a tech startup, Kindred Global Mentorship (http://KindredMentor.com). Kindred is an online marketplace for mentorship where you can search, find, and connect with people in your industry who can either help you, or whom you can help. Mentorship can cover anything from upskilling, to helping with a project, to ongoing professional/moral support. Mentors set their prices and are paid and rated in an Air BnB/Über-style consumer-directed manner. Kindred also promotes a culture of giving, and is aligned with charities working to end poverty—a cause I very much believe in.
Kindred is at the prototype/beta stage, with a fully functioning website we are now inviting people onto. I have pitched to investors and got some modest seed funding to get the business off the ground. Working at Fishburners, a co-working space for tech startups, is a highlight. I have a small team in the Phillippines doing promotion, and now two interns working for me as well.
If you’d told me four years ago, when I was crying in the supermarket because I couldn’t afford all the food I wanted—that I would be in this place today, I would never have believed it. It goes without saying that my kids are crazy proud of me. But I want to add that they are the best assets in my life—fun, smart, helpful, and they have absolute belief in me. We’ve been on a huge journey together and I’m excited, finally, about the future.
It can feel isolating to be the only separated 40-something mother in an entrepreneurial space that feels younger and free of all the responsibilities and financial pressures I have. So I’d like to share three bits of advice for all women, but perhaps especially for women in my situation who are considering taking a leap of faith and committing to big achievements in business:
1.Fear should never stop you. It’s just a personal reaction and is neither a commentary on your ability nor on the viability of your business. Step through it one foot after the other, because it can only prevent your success if you let it.
2. Don’t listen to naysayers. Criticism is only constructive when it comes from a place of absolute belief in you and absolute belief in your business as an emanation of your fabulous self.
3.If you ever feel the onset of the impostor syndrome, then insulate yourself from the comparison culture of social media, the peer group, and so on, in order to work on yourself and your projects. There are always people ahead of you and behind you, and you can only construct great tings from where you are at right now.
We hope you are enjoying this series.
From those in Heels
Lisa & Jo