Name: Donna Gould
My Business is: Open Heart Creative
Sometimes the biggest obstacle is the one we can’t see coming.
I spent a year and a half developing the foundation for what would become Open Heart Creative. When I left my full-time job as a communications director, I knew I wanted to work with women who were running small businesses and needed marketing help. I just wasn’t sure how.
So I talked with women I knew and asked about their challenges. They introduced to me to women who worked with small business owners, and I listened as they shared their thoughts.
Gradually I pieced together the parameters of my new business. It would call on my strengths as a strategic thinker, seasoned marketing pro, and copywriter.
Then I stalled. Something was stopping me from pulling the trigger, choosing a business name, launching a website. I didn’t think it was fear: I’d already taken the leap, left my day job, and started doing consulting work.
One weekend I went to visit a dear friend who has a home near Woodstock, N.Y. She knew I was struggling, and generously gifted me a session with one of her favorite energy medicine practitioners. The woman was lovely, and the session left me feeling calm and meditative. Afterward we sat outside sipping tea.
“So I understand you’re starting a business,” she said. I told her I was.
“Something to do with mentoring women?” she asked.
I was about to say, “No,” and explain what I’d figured out so far. But the word “mentoring” really resonated. Like someone flipping a switch.
“I’ve never looked at it quite like that, but I guess so, in a way,” I said.
“So what’s stopping you?” she replied.
Tears sprang up. As I struggled with an unexpected surge of emotion, she gently asked:
“Is it because you don’t think anyone will value what you have to offer?”
And there it was. During those months of fact-finding and soul-searching and scribbling in notebooks, I had drilled deep down to define the business I wanted to have. Which wasn’t exactly the business I believed people expected me to have.
The closer I got to what was in my heart, the more vulnerable I became. And the riskier the whole thing felt.
There is always risk in starting something, but this wasn’t just about fear of failure. It was about the value of my 30-plus years of work – and life – experience. The skills, insights, and understanding I’ve accumulated.
And it was about my ability to offer entrepreneurs more than just sage marketing advice and sparkling copy. I wanted to give them support and encouragement. Permission to be more of who they are. To – literally – help them find their voice.
Which meant being valued not only for what I do – but for who I am.
And what could be scarier than risking your self worth?
We talked a bit longer, then said our goodbyes. As she walked me to my car, she left me with these words: “When we show up with clear intentions and our hearts open, things happen. All you have to do is show up.”
Open Heart Creative was born that day. It took another six months to hang out the “open for business” sign, but I knew I’d crossed a line. I had named my fear – and could now summon the courage to move through it.
The word “courage” is from the Old French “corage”, meaning “heart, innermost feelings, inner strength.” In the process of launching this business, I’ve learned it means letting go of old ideas and attachments – and being open to what’s next.