Michael Sherlock – Serial entrepreneur with shocking potential

February 18, 2021

Shock your potential interview on Enterprise League

There are people who are born to turn heads and shock the surroundings. Michael Sherlock is one of them. 

First, because she’s very much a woman despite the name. Second, just like her namesake, Sherlock Holmes, her deductive reasoning about business is worthy of a novel. Third, she has a colourful hair that perfectly reflects her personality. Fourth, despite all things previously mentioned, she’s pretty serious when it comes to business.

She shocks you with her appearance, with her brains, with her success, with her dedication, with her creativity… She doesn’t fit into norms and that’s what makes her special.

Ladies and gents, Michael Sherlock.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

I am a serial entrepreneur, but I was not ready for the first company I started in my 20’s, and a steady paycheck was vital. I owned 2 other companies in my 30’s and 40’s, one which did well and one that did not. I also ran 2 very successful MLM businesses for a few years.

This time around I had achieved what I wanted for my career in corporate America and was ready to begin again. I had published my first leadership book but was so busy I couldn’t promote it, and I wanted to write more and speak and train. Initially, the goal was for a lifestyle business.

Today, my companies are going places I could have never dreamed.

Michael Sherlock

How did you come up with your business idea?

My primary company, “Shock Your Potential,” began as a platform for me to speak and train groups through conferences and companies training sessions. I love the idea of “Shock” because we all may have dreams and ideas, but many of us need someone to kick us in the pants, jolt our energy, shock us into action. Plus, I am a bit shocking myself. Very colorful hair and playful teaching style, I try to remind people that although I am very serious about business, serious can have many meanings.

Once Covid hit, however, I had some serious revelations. I had been running a B2B company, with more than 95% of my business income coming from when I would hop on a plane somewhere in the country, or world, and go to speak. That obviously took a hit! So we adapted quickly, built out the “Shock Your Potential App” for on-demand professional development training, changed up our entire marketing strategy to go B2C, and our future looks much different.

Along the way this year I also had another revelation for a second company. My entire team is remote from Kenya. They are amazing! And after having so many people ask how they could get a team like mine, it just made sense to start a company connecting talented Kenya professionals with small businesses like mine. Thus “KukuaBiz” was born.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Being an entrepreneur can be very lonely, and often very scary. There are times when I have just gone into a shell, forging forward, afraid to ask for help or encouragement. There is a strong need to look like we have it all together.

This year I learned that it was not only foolish to do so, but that I was hurting my entire team (and company) in the process. I have invited 4 people whom I respect greatly, who have seen and done much more than I have, to be on my advisory board. We will meet 3 times in 2021, virtually, for 2 hours. I will prepare my business update for them, ask their input and support.

Asking them was easy. Doing the next part the second week in January, will be much harder. However, it is helping me get a laser-like focus on my budget projections, business plan and marketing strategy. And each of these people are “truth-tellers,” meaning none will hold back from telling me the truth, no matter how much it may hurt.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Honestly, no. I haven’t. I also have never been paid less than male counterparts. Why? Because I always negotiated well, and hard, for myself. And I think the confidence I gained from that carries over into how I am viewed today by others. 

One thing I should have done earlier, however, and am doing right now, is get certified as a woman-owned small business. Less than 1% (I think this is correct) of women get this certification, mostly because it is so darn time consuming and very confusing. I hired a specialist to help me through the process and we will be done soon.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

Creativity, talent and sheer determination are driving factors in my success. But the greatest detriment I face is that fact that I hate the details. Until I was able to hire employees, I would get in my own way with the massive list of “must do’s” like accounting. The tiny, but critical details are the things that keep a business running, but I don’t find them enjoyable in the least.

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I love building and creating, and I enjoy the chase of opportunity. I love seeing a challenge and then finding ways to overcome it. 2020 certainly put more challenges in front of me than I thought I could handle, and there were several times that I thought we’d have to scale back, but I found new income sources, am seeking sponsors who know my audience is perfect for their products or services, and am building something I would have never built before had it not been for pure survival. 

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly can give you an adrenaline rush like none other.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

“Just pick a lane. One lane.” 

I read a book about building your speaking business when I first started Shock Your Potential. The author said, “You can’t make a name for yourself if you are trying to speak on leadership and sales and…” That concept really bothered me, and initially because I am passionate about leadership and sales and customer service/experience. So for a short time, I limited myself, which also made me limit my views of my own company.

I began to think I could ONLY be a speaker/trainer. 

When I realized that it didn’t feel right, and began to follow my gut, I began to have many more doors open. I began to spend time each day journaling about what this company could become. And I began to see opportunity everywhere.

At one point, however, I was following too many stray paths and someone said “You are operating a mile wide, but only an inch deep. You can’t get any traction.” He was right as well. I went to the polar opposite.

Now anything we do has to pass a test. Does this support our mission? Will it be a revenue driver? Does it match our values?

Unless it meets all 3 qualifications, we pass it by.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Have you achieved everything you want in your career? If not, “Shock Your Potential” is your partner. We develop superb leaders, inspire dynamic salespeople, and guide professionals in every field through their career journey. 

CEO Michael Sherlock has “Been There, Done That” in her career. Before launching her global training company, she was VP of Sales for 2 different global medical device companies, responsible for more than 500 employees and nearly $100 million annually. What she learned about promoting, developing, and training employees will take your career to new heights.

Download our “Shock Your Potential App” today and access free and paid content that is delivered with passion, humor, and sometimes not-so-gentle reminders that we are all responsible for our own growth and development. You owe it to yourself, and to your career, to take this step to secure your future

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

If I could go back to that first company that I launched and lost in my early 20’s, I would have found a business coach. Knowing what I know now, I could have absolutely made that first training company work. I simply did not know how to run a business.

Most entrepreneurs are good at whatever they are doing, but very few are good at running a business. It takes a lot of work, on the business, and on yourself. 

Hire a coach, join a Mastermind, gather an Advisory Board, anything that will give you outside perspective to help you achieve your goals.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

We are relaunching our app officially in January with changes from what we learned in our Beta launch, are engaging sponsors for the first time for both our App and our podcast, and I will release 2 books: the much-awaited “Shock Your Potential” book as well as my first novel.

Any final words to end this interview?

If there is one thing I know about myself is that I am a REALLY good karaoke singer in Post Falls, ID (think very small town), but I am NOT a good karaoke singer in downtown Nashville. 

Learn where you fit and where you don’t so that you don’t get hurt feelings (or worse, hurt your business) by trying to operate at a level you aren’t ready for yet. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on big dreams. Just make sure that you don’t try to force them too quickly without training and a plan.

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