Two years ago, Jill Johns heard three life-changing words: “You’ve got cancer.” She received positive support from friends and family during diagnosis and treatment, but found it difficult to go back to “normal” life once her bandages came off. “I was exhausted, worried the cancer would come back or spread, sad about my new body image and confused for feeling this way.” She started talking to other survivors who were going through similar experiences.
Three months after her surgery, Jill Johns International hosted its first retreat for five survivors. Johns has gone on to host retreats for more than 50 cancer survivors. But as a solopreneur working with survivors who are often also facing economic challenges, funding her retreats has been challenging. “We are always looking for ways to provide the best experience possible at the lowest cost to ourselves, the survivors and the organizations with whom we partner,” Johns says.
While this wasn’t Johns’ first venture as a solopreneur, she wanted to make sure her business plan and vision were solid. She sought honest, critical input to ensure her business model was “established with growth in mind.”
Volunteer mentor Gary Johnson originally helped Johns with her marketing strategy and five-year vision for Jill Johns International. They meet about once per month, exchanging emails in between appointments as needed.
“Since working with Gary, I have a solid business plan that I update frequently, I have established collateral that is consistent with my brand and my vision, and I have begun putting the steps in motion to grow my business,” Johns says.
She has added an informational tagline to her logo, hired a social media manger, created a sales kit and participant materials, and begun creating a facilitator’s guide. Johns has also found sponsors for recurring needs like meals and snacks for retreat events.
Jill Johns International was selected as one of 102 state winners in the 2017 American Small Business Championship.