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Name: Claire O’Connor

Business: The Five Percent 

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Industry: Personal Services 

Reason for starting? I started my business for three reasons: First I was very unhappy at my job and had never known what career I wanted then, and it suddenly hit me that I needed to work for myself to find my particular brand of work happiness. Second, I felt there was a lack of support out there generally for people who want to do amazing things or challenge themselves with new projects. Most people you talk to will tell you it’s “too hard” or “you can’t go after the life you want.” And third, I wanted to work on something that brought me joy but also helped other people. I wanted to inspire other people — to show them that, if I can do it, they can too — and help them move forward on their journey.

Related: Read about another personal coach here. 

How do you define success? My definition of success is when what you do, say and think are all in alignment, i.e. when you’re able to truly be yourself and be okay with who you are. Success is when you’re following your heart. For me this means having enough money to live the life I have planned out; being able to work anywhere in the world, so I can spend time with friends and family all over the world; and being able to choose my own schedule. Sometimes I want to start work at 6am, and sometimes I’ll start at 12pm!

Biggest success: My biggest success to date is probably setting up and making money from my company with no prior knowledge. It was such a shock when I got that first notification from PayPal saying “someone has paid you money”! I think most people around me didn’t really believe I could do it — it sounded like a pipe dream. But I knew that if I kept going, believed in myself and kept doing what I loved, it would work out (as cheesy as that sounds). In the space of a year, I’ve gone from not really knowing what my business would be to having a clear idea, setting it up, gaining my first clients and growing a program that I love and that actually helps people. I’m really proud of that — and it confirms my belief that these things are more doable than we think!

Related: A Woman Business Owner Finds Global Success in Eco-Friendly Furniture 

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? My top challenge right now is having a baby while running my business (I’m currently 7 months pregnant). I’ve just started working with a fantastic mentor through a Young Women in Business program, and she is helping me to create a viable plan for when the baby comes. For me, having support around you is such an important part of it — I encourage everyone, whatever they’re doing, to get support… Whether it’s running a marathon, quitting smoking or setting up your business, it’s so much easier when you have other people doing it with you or who know what you’re going through!

As above, being pregnant has affected my plans for my business this year. I’ve put certain things on hold and am trying to get certain things done before the baby comes. But I think that’s part of life — you will always have issues that crop up or obstacles to work through… It’s a question of focusing on your goal but also going easy on yourself: If you need to take a break, take a break. If you need to change course, do that. We only really have the day in front of us, so let’s make the most of that 🙂

Who is your most important role model? This is such a difficult question. I have many different role models: friends and people I haven’t met, people dead and alive. They all serve a different role. In no order, my top three are: Chris Guillebeau, for showing me that it’s possible to go after a dream that everyone else says is impossible; two of my friends, Phil and Brad, who taught me the importance of setting goals for yourself each year and how to keep positive no matter what happens; Alex Franzen for showing me that you can be yourself and run a company your way, even if it goes against mainstream advice.


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Edited by The Story Exchange