How Kelly Lovell learned to build a passion-based business
After starting many entrepreneurial endeavours from the age of 13, Kelly Lovell founded her current business at age 19 and is on a mission to chase her passion: to help companies of all sizes become “future proof”.
Her business, Lovell Corporation, consults with companies big and small to help them with talent, retention, and culture building. She’s received numerous honours and awards for her work, including being named by Queen Elizabeth II as a Queen’s Young Leader, and has gained a massive online following for her work.
Taking part in our 7 Questions series, the young entrepreneur shared how she focuses on self-development, building culture, the importance of contracts.
How do you define success?
For me, success is the impact that we have in the life of our clients and beneficiaries. I’m seeing that feedback firsthand of how we make a difference as a company is highly important to me and is very core in the culture we have here at Lovell.
From the business side as well it comes down to the impact we have for our clients, what their feedback is, and the measurable change that our services can create. We have standard business successes as well, but impact is definitely weighted stronger.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
In business, one challenge I am facing right now is scaling the company. I feel like the markets, though they are rapidly growing, are a little slow to catch up in the sense that when you have something very new or ambitious, it is still difficult to get industry support. To get them to want to jump in and be the first ones within that new space.
As a leader, the biggest challenge I’m facing would be balance and being authentic.
It’s easy as a leader to become disconnected from your work and your team when you have so much to do and you have a lot of pressure on you. A big theme over the last quarter for me has been really grounding myself in my work to make sure I can not only just get everything done but I can show up with the same energy as passion that I had on day one.
Overcoming this challenge meant getting back to the root of who I was and why I started everything. I’m known as a workaholic, I would work 16 hour days. Now, I will take a night off to do yoga, or something creative like painting – something completely opposite to the side of my brain that I am normally working. I find in that quietness or nothingness that I’m actually able to clear my mind and solve the solutions and problems that we’re facing.
Which entrepreneur, thinker, or leader inspires your work the most?
Young entrepreneurs. My work has always been rooted in youth-led innovation. Learning about the small but incredible projects that young people around the world are doing motivates me and raises the bar every time.
I encourage C-suite leaders to pay attention to young entrepreneurs. You can learn a lot from how they approach and navigate challenges because they’re not as jaded and it’s really interesting to watch.
What’s the most underrated advice you’ve ever received?
“Mistake is just another word for experience”.
I am really understanding now that it’s all about the journey as an entrepreneur. If we become so focused with blinders on that end goal, we lose sight of small wins. I think it’s really important, especially when you’re trying to do something big and ambitious, that you acknowledge small wins and lessons learned.
Looking back at my journey, I had some early successes where brands believed in me from the get go. But some of those relationships didn’t go as great. I was young and naive; I didn’t have contracts with the brands so there was no clear sense of expectation. That was really hard time for me and was what I consider one of my bigger failures, where I felt I didn’t succeed in the relationship. But looking back on it I realized there was no criteria for me to succeed because no expectation was set.
That experience taught me the importance of having clear expectations for any relationship – and putting them on paper.
What’s your favourite book, speaker, or talk about entrepreneurship?
I really like Simon Sinek’s Start With Why.
It’s not particularly about entrepreneurship, but more about purpose. And I think it’s so important for an entrepreneur to know what their purpose is. When you first start out, your only asset is the passion you have and your job is turning that passion into purpose and reality.
You need to be crystal clear on what your purpose is because it’s so easy to get swept up in the industry, get pushed back and forth, and told what your idea is supposed to look like. If you’re wishy-washy and don’t stay true to your purpose, it’s easy to get swept up in the tide and not succeed.
What’s the most important trait you look for in anyone you work with?
Passion. I want the individuals I work with to be passionate about what they do and have an interest in our work.
I find that’s more important to me than their experience or the skills they can bring to the table. That becomes secondary because you can gain and learn skills but passion is something you have to have from within.
Which of your business responsibilities do you hate the most?
Operations, honestly. The nuts and bolts slows me down a bit, but those are necessary parts of the business.
So it’s about changing the mindset around the work. Instead of seeing it as “ugh”, I think of it as something that’s part of my business. I try to approach it with a “let’s get this done” attitude. I’m also trying to surround myself with mentors and people that have different personalities than me so I can lean on them for support but also have greater respect for the work they do.
Photos of Kelly Lovell courtesy of the Lovell Corporation