She started her career working for Teach for America on a Navajo reservation, received a MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and models an impactful & conscious lifestyle, with many, many psyched clients — that’s the value that our latest #TheFemaleEquation feature brings to the table! Hannah Gay is a consultant and coach who advocates for social impact…without the BS!
When I first started Positive Equation, I was looking for like-minded female entrepreneurs to connect with. Like all good connections happen, I slid into her DMs on Instagram!
Q1: When did you decide to start your biz? Was there an “aha” moment?
A1: I had quit my previous job with nothing lined up and a ton of grad school debt, which was slightly terrifying. I reached out to my network attempting to get some bridge projects to work on during a job search. Within a few months, I had enough work lined up to make me feel secure enough to turn down a couple of job offers.
I quickly put together a brand based on what I thought my clients wanted then, but a year later, I pretty much redid and honed everything based on what I’d learned in my first year. I’d say that’s when I really, really started things.
Q2: What challenge have you overcome and how?
A2: I think the biggest thing is the constant learning and figuring out how to manage that as a solopreneur. I have never referred to myself as a freelancer; I have a business model and a business and it’s very deliberately just me.
But that said, I’m often finding myself having conversations with… myself. I have to hold myself accountable to either structuring my growth and decision making like I do with my clients, or getting outside help from peers or a coach.
Q3: Who’s an inspiration or mentor to you in this rollercoaster ride of owning your own biz + one piece of advice they’ve shared with you.
A3: A whole cadre of other women I know through various networks – college, grad school, even Instagram – who also own very small 1-3 person shops. There are so many public figures out there running startups and they’re great, but I think a very small service-based business is a unique ballgame.
Number one piece of advice? Raise prices. Charge like you’re an expert because you are. I realistically directly serve clients max like 20 hours a week and spend the rest of my time expanding and honing my expertise and building my business. I need to make enough in that time to make this sustainable.
Q4: We all need fuel! What’s your current go-to podcast or book right now?
A4: Lately I’ve been really into business books I meant to read in business school. I recently finished both “Givers & Takers” by Adam Grant and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. One is about successful people generally and the other is about how some huge corporations become great. Neither is directly applicable to my work, but both had really insightful tidbits I can extract to both help my own business and help my clients in their strategy.
Q5: What does a “positive equation” look like to you?
A5: One where the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. It sounds cheesy, but that’s so doable and SO necessary in social impact where things are looked at so often as “zero sum.”
You’re amazing, Hannah! Thank you for being raw and real in this #TheFemaleEquation feature! You can find Hannah on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @impactbyhannah.
Click here to discover more The Female Equation features and stay tuned for future posts.