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Name: Marina Darlow

Business: Vision Framework

Location: Watertown, Massachusetts, U.S.

Industry: Professional Services

Reason for starting? After a corporate burnout, I wanted to find a meaningful job. For me it meant becoming a project manager (my skill-set) with a non-profit, working for the causes I care about: fighting domestic violence and child abuse. I’d be doing what I know, but it would have a real impact!

After a year of hearing, “We’d love to have you, we need you, but we have no money,” I created a service: I’ll come in, set up the systems, train the team and will move on to the next project. Working with non-profits evolved into working with heart-centered, purpose-driven entrepreneurs. Which is what I do today.

Related: Read about another Professional Services entrepreneur here. 

How do you define success? 
In my book, success is making an impact in the world, being there for your loved ones, while doing what fulfills you and being financially independent.

Biggest success: 
Two things come to mind, one from the first year in business, and one from last April. I remember an amazing moment, about six months after starting Vision Framework, when I realized I had more clients than I had set a goal for. For me finding clients was the biggest fear that kept me from starting my business for a long time. And here I was, surprising myself in my most challenging aspect.

This April I presented at the ADHD Professional conference in Washington, D.C. My talk, “ADHD-Compatible Business Systems” got incredible feedback. It was called eye-opening, and long-overdue for the ADHD community. Following the talk, I was approached to join the ACO Board — that’s the organization that runs the conference.

What is your top challenge
 and how you have addressed it? Marketing and sales are… uncomfortable. You put yourself, your work, your methods out there and up for judgement. In addition, I was raised in a society where “entrepreneurial” was a derogatory word, as in “dishonest,” “self-serving” and “sneaky.” So I had to overcome a lot of emotional barriers to start marketing my services. What helped? A combination of very practical strategy and a lot of emotional work with an outstanding business coach. As for balancing life and work — I’m still figuring it out.

Related: Work-Life Balance as Entrepreneurial Inspiration 

Who is your most important role model? 
That’s an easy one. My father. He’s my role model for a lot of things, not just entrepreneurship. Talking about the more known figures — Naomi Dunford, Amy Norman from Little Passports, Melissa Cassera, Laura Roeder.


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Edited by The Story Exchange