Nancy Schnoebelen on Building a Business

Nancy Schnoebelen loves creating opportunities for others, and it’s her work at Polished. that keeps her busy making connections with people across the St. Louis region. A marketing and communications expert, Nancy branched out on her own in 2014 to launch Polished., a leadership development firm that hosts programs for people of all ages with the goal to help improve soft skills.

We caught up with Nancy to learn more about her experience leaving the corporate world to launch her business and how she’s putting her connections to use.

When did you realize you were ready to start your own business?
“I always wanted to start my own business, but I was scared to break out of my comfort zone for a while. After years of having this fear, I decided to finally take the leap and launched Polished last year. I’m realizing running your own business comes with many challenges but I keep focused and don’t look back.”

How did you decide to build a business around teaching people soft skills?
How did you decide to build a business around teaching people soft skills?”As a marketing and communications professional, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to professional interactions. I went through my career taking mental notes about my strengths and made a plan around how I could put them to use to help other professionals. I would get calls from colleagues asking for help introducing them to a contact or advice on building a certain soft skill. Eventually I thought, “Why don’t I use my knowledge to consult on my own?

So what do you think is the most important trait professionals should express?
“Empathy – it’s one of the most important leadership skills. Listening is another. You can be a great communicator, but if you lack listening skills, you won’t learn from feedback. Remember that everybody is human, and we all have our good and bad days. Practicing empathy will take you to a new level in your career.”

What was the best advice you received in building your business?
“A friend of mine who started her own business five years ago told me, “Jump and the net will be there.” It made me think about the trust branching out requires, and how the fears that I had were preventing me from taking a leap.”

How have you built your company’s brand in the community?
“My connections have been an immense help. If there’s an opportunity out there, I know have a network of people who will think of me. Whether you’re self-employed or working for somebody else, it’s really about building relationships and respecting your network. Find ways to support your network, and they will find ways to support you. Building a strong professional network takes time, but it reaps benefits the further you advance in your career. When you take your connections seriously and remember that it’s not about what you need, people will recognize that.”

Besides Polished, what’s another way you stay connected to the community?
“I’ve been fortunate in my career, so I’m all about paying it forward, especially helping women succeed. I also like giving back through volunteer service. I serve on the board of the St. Louis Arc and want to help raise awareness of all the wonderful services it provides to support people with developmental disabilities. I have a sister with developmental disabilities, and I know firsthand the challenges she and others face throughout their lives. Recently, I presented a social skills program to a group of young adults, and it was an awesome experience.”

 

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.