How a Former Social Worker Made a Business Out of Your Career
Jessica Canty argues that entrepreneurship and career coaching have a lot in common.
Starting a career is very much like starting a business, at least according to career and life strategist Jessica Canty, CEO of Maryland-based Proverbs 15:22 Personal Growth Coaching.
“The things I’ve found have helped me in my career are fundamentals in our career coaching program,” she says, which is why she modeled her business after the iconic Bible verse that says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
With nearly a decade of experience as a social worker, Canty was often exposed to people who struggled with empowerment. Many of the parents she encountered on the job were caught in the hamster wheel of working unfulfilling jobs that left them anxious to go to work. “One of the most empowering things was to be able to coach them and see things they didn’t see for themselves,” Canty says. “Just to know that I could use a bit of my skills to be a flashlight for someone else in their darkness really sparked the idea for Proverbs 15:22 for me.”
Canty started teaching courses on business etiquette on her own in 2016 to mid-level professionals, as well as leadership courses to undergrad women. The side hustle became a fully realized LLC after she quickly figured through teaching that her target niche was what she calls melanin millennial moms. “From a business development standpoint, it’s important to have your niche audience,” she says. “I didn’t realize that was mine until that’s who I started helping out more — plus, I am one of them.”
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Canty says it’s important to have a set of advisers and supporters at every step of your career, or what she calls a “career executive board,” composed of a coach, a role model, a mentor, and a sponsor. Proverbs 15:22 wants to be the coach.
Canty’s business services focus on a three-pillar program: career path planning, résumé and interview refinement, and reputation revitalization, which touches on modern business etiquette and career branding. Throughout a three- or six-month coaching program, Canty and her team of three help clients uncover mindset hurdles in the way of their success via talent assessments, interview preparation, and goal setting. “We help them determine exactly what the mission and vision of their career is,” Canty says. “Because I’m a clinical social worker, I’m able to identify some of those mental health challenges that can get in the way of success.”
Before the pandemic hit, Canty was gearing up to teach in-person career sessions but pivoted to create a “work journal,” set to be released during the first quarter of 2021. The journal will be a place for clients to record achievements and daily work as a foundation for career development.
“The idea is for clients who are ready for a raise in their salaries to have information on-hand about how they’re a valuable player and have a conversation about a promotion, even during hiring freezes and income caps right now,” says Canty. “We thought the pivot in our product would accommodate clients who are being more budget conscious and aren’t able to get face-to-face coaching from us right now.”
For the last couple of weeks Canty has been visualizing her own next steps for the business. In five years, she hopes to have a brick and mortar building to host in-person classes, one-on-one coaching sessions, guest speakers, and recruiters.
“To be honest, when I first started, I wasn’t comfortable calling myself a career and life strategist — I thought this was all going to be about business, time management, and etiquette,” says Canty. “But what really honed me in was having the right leadership and authority over my vision. When I went through the tutelage of my own career executive board, I realized that I am a life and career strategist, and my special sauce is that I add that etiquette piece in it. And I’m helping to daily walk out your career goals.”
Ready to figure out the “why” behind your business? Check out the Hello Alice Define Your Purpose Guide.