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XayLi Barclay of Start Shoot Grow Video Academy: Why We Need More Women Founders & Here Is What We Are Doing To Make That Happen

I wish someone told me not to take myself too seriously in the beginning. When I first started building my business I thought I had to be “perceived” in a specific way in order to be successful. I quickly realized that this prevented me from being myself and allowing people to see me make mistakes along the way. I had to realize that perfection isn’t an option when it comes to building a business.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing XayLi Barclay.

XayLi Barclay is a Visual Content Creation Coach, Thinkific Expert for Online Course Creators and founder of the Start Shoot Grow Video Academy. She specializes in helping entrepreneurs effectively stand out and make a genuine impact in the digital space. Through knowledge-based content and online courses, she teaches others how to unlock multiple revenue streams, attract paid opportunities and connect on a deeper level with their audience.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My journey as a blogger began around 2008 and grew into an affinity for social media and the online business world in the following years. I had worked with a few PR companies while living in NYC after college, and I realized that I wanted to be the client, rather than working behind the scenes. I held a few jobs after that realization that would lead me down the path of having more time to work on my online business. I started being serious about my journey towards being a course creator in 2014. By 2015 I was committed to growing my online business full time.

I worked as a video content creation coach while simultaneously helping people to create their online course experiences. I then transitioned fully into online courses, coaching and consulting in 2019–2021.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I remember how I felt when someone offered me a full-time job for my expertise. It was then I realized the power of personal branding, not only for an entrepreneur but also for people who are in corporate spaces. I ended up declining that job offer and then quadrupling the proposed yearly salary on my own during a pandemic. I think it was interesting to me because after being out of the corporate world and workforce as an employee for so long, I thought no one would want to hire me.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I remember when I did my first sales webinar for an online course that I had created. When I completed the webinar, I was waiting for the flood of sales that everyone at that time was talking about. Nothing came. I remember thinking that the world was over, I was so ashamed, and I actually stayed away from the “internet” for a few days. It’s funny because now I can look back and evaluate all of the things that I did wrong. But I also learned my biggest lesson! Now I know that success is multiple failures stacked on top of one another. The key is to keep executing and collecting data so that I’m able to get myself on the right track. I appreciate all the lessons that come out of my experience.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

As a kid, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I knew this even before the word became a shiny word or what we would refer to as “goals”. This was because my Dad worked for himself when I was a young girl. Watching my Dad transition from working for someone else, and then creating his own successful business was always such an awe-inspiring experience for me. This is where I was able to understand work ethic at an early age, and understand the importance of playing the long game rather than playing a short one.

I remember not knowing exactly what I wanted to do as an entrepreneur, but I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. I tried multiple endeavors before I found exactly what I wanted to do but I am super thankful for him pushing me to have my own business, even when I was afraid. I genuinely still am afraid sometimes, and it’s always such a gift to be able to call him to ask for business advice.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think that an obvious lack of resources is holding women back from founding companies. I also believe that there is a lack of representation of women founders to give others the idea or inspiration to understand the possibilities of being a woman founder. The more that we are able to see women founders and learn more about them and their journeys and influence, we are then able to help the upcoming generations beat the odds.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

One way would be education. There are so many women who are truly talented, smart, and driven but they are often uneducated about the steps they need to take or about what they could be doing to build successful businesses. When I think about this issue my heart goes out to minority women who are business owners. As a black woman, it is so much more difficult to hit the pinnacle of perceived success because of a lack of connections, funding and educational assets. We have to think about how we can work towards making these resources available and accessible as well. There are instances where resources are available, but minority women are still not able to reach the eligibility requirements to access those funds.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I think that women pay attention to details a bit more than men do. This allows us to be able to contribute differently to the business space.

Women also know how to cater to other women. This is also prominent in spaces where the problem to be solved by a business is based on an issue that women may be having. Women also drive the majority of consumer purchasing decisions.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

One myth I would like to dispel about being a founder is the myth out there about business not being personal. I think that as a founder, it’s very important to lead with the idea that business is personal — especially when it comes to how you treat the people and customers in your business. I really believe that business is personal and that when you lead in this way, you’re able to make a difference and experience longevity as well.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder, and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I honestly don’t think that everyone is cut out to be a founder, but I do believe that experiences can shift someone’s ability to grow into being a founder.

I believe that to be a founder, you should be open to learning and understanding different experiences. You more than likely have to be able to see something (have a vision) that most people cannot see or may not believe in at the moment. You have to have the ability to hold that vision and see it through to fruition. I also think that as a founder it is important to understand how to lead.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. I wish someone told me not to take myself too seriously in the beginning. When I first started building my business I thought I had to be “perceived” in a specific way in order to be successful. I quickly realized that this prevented me from being myself and allowing people to see me make mistakes along the way. I had to realize that perfection isn’t an option when it comes to building a business.
  2. I wish someone had told me that you can learn leadership skills along the way. I didn’t realize how much of a leader you have to be to grow a successful business. When you realize that others are looking to you for solutions or to put out fires, you quickly understand that leading is a part of your job description. When I learned this, I beat myself up for not being naturally assertive or being a leader until I realized that these are skills that I could build along the way.
  3. I wish someone had told me that being able to make a decision quickly is one of the most important traits successful people can have. Being able to make decisions and make those decisions work has been a game-changer for me. When I first started my business, I spent so much time on making decisions about things that didn’t move the needle in my business. I also took a long time to make really important decisions out of the fear that I was making the wrong decision.
  4. I wish someone told me that working for yourself is even harder than having a 9–5. I hear people say that they don’t want to do a 9–5, they want to have their own business so that they can experience freedom. I think that most people don’t realize how hard you have to work when you are getting started. You’re probably more inclined to work on your own business because the quality of work may be better. This is where your passion and/or purpose can drive you towards working harder. When you have your own business, discipline is truly at the core of your success.
  5. I wish someone told me that business is a self-awareness journey. As I grow in my own business journey, I realize that my business growth is closely aligned with my growth as an individual. As I grow, and open up to learning, and expand who I am on this journey of life, I’ve realized that it has allowed me to break through barriers that I have in business. Working on yourself during your business journey is key! Personal Development is always at the top of my list of things to spend time doing.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I feel as if I have used my success to help the world to be a better place by being a connector. I am always looking for instances to give someone else an opportunity to be exposed to new audiences and customers along their journey.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to inspire more minority women to take control of their future by starting and growing their own online course businesses. A digital business has considerably low start-up costs and higher margins for profitability. As we move into a bright future for e learning and online courses, I want to prepare women for the opportunities that are currently available and growing in such an industry. The foundation of this movement is what we have created at the Think in Color Summit presented by Thinkific and I.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to meet Stacey Abrams for so many obvious reasons. I admire her as a person, and I admire her work as well. If I was able to meet her, I believe that we would have an effortless conversation. We naturally have so many of the same interests, concerns, beliefs and so much more.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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