Lauren Cohen is the CEO and Founder of e-Council Inc., a small but thriving virtual company focused on quarterbacking the complex U.S. business immigration process. As a Canadian lawyer who immigrated to the US in 2001, Lauren personally experienced the difficult and frustrating U.S. immigration process. She also faced many obstacles and hardships in her journey from Canadian to dual Canadian-American citizen, lawyer to entrepreneur, single woman to working mom, but she persevered. Today, Lauren and her team of experts are dedicated to helping immigrants and entrepreneurs like herself achieve their version of the American Dream.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I really didn’t have a whole lot of options. The company had no revenues, and thus no funds with which to pay for an office. It was initially just me, and then expanded to include another lawyer, and we would meet in person as needed but generally worked virtually. Initially it was an ongoing struggle, but friends and colleagues supported me and helped me to find the silver-lining. From there, I managed to build an entirely new career, as I had the knowledge and capabilities to start my own at home business – writing business plans for start-up companies. Shortly after hearing that I was writing business plans, my own immigration attorney introduced me to the world of U.S. business immigration, and I found another silver-lining; that I had a huge opportunity to help others overcome similar painful experiences by moving into the field of immigration law. And, the bonus was that the restrictions on my ability to practice in Florida were moot when it came to immigration law, which is federal, and therefore a license in any U.S. state was equal to that of any other state! When I set my mind to something, there is no stone I leave unturned – I never give up, and since starting out, I have transformed my company from a one woman operation, writing business plans for immigrant investor visas, to a small team of experts dedicated to quarterbacking the entire business immigration process for our clients – immigrants seeking business investment opportunities in the US and US entrepreneurs/developers seeking alternative sources of funding, alike.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
It kind of fell into my lap, so-to-speak. If you can call finding the silver lining through struggles falling in to one’s lap, that is! Once I realized that there was a niche market for what I wanted to do, and that I did not need to leave the comfort of my home in order to do it, there was no going back.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
It all really started with my first business plan, which, upon its success, led to my second, and then my third, and so on and so forth – with the help and advice of my growing team and my support network, it grew into the successful business it is today – because it definitely takes a VILLAGE!
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
My friend, who was a very successful entrepreneur himself, asked for help writing a business plan for a new start-up with which he was involved. This then led to referrals to others in need of the same service and my business grew from there. But the biggest break was my first immigration Business Plan, for which I have my immigration attorney to thank.
5) How do you market your business?
Mainly through word-of-mouth, referrals, and speaking engagements. Additionally, social media sites, most notably LinkedIn, have been key marketing avenues for my business. I have built strong relationships with potential referral sources, such as immigration and other attorneys, who refer clients our way when they are in need of our specific services or the range that we offer!
6) What does your usual day look like?
Usually, my days are pretty crazy. On top of running my own company, I am a single mother, responsible for the care and well-being of my very active 6 year old son. My days are split between phone calls, school drop-offs and pickups, emails, work lunches, playdates, swim practice (my son is on the swim team), attending – and often speaking at – conferences and events; I like to joke that there isn’t enough time in the day for everything, but there is some truth in it too. I have adopted the mantra “just keep swimming” from the 2003 Disney film, “Finding Nemo” as my own, and, just like Dory’s character, I persevere each and every day.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish I had known that starting my own business would be akin to having a second child – one that demands my constant attention, is inconsistent and challenging – but, just as with nurturing a child, the rewards from fostering my own business are deeply fulfilling and make the challenges worthwhile. I wish I had known that I would have many sleepless nights in the process of building my business, but nonetheless, I have undeniably learned many invaluable lessons along the way.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
DO IT! But do it with a coach AND make sure that you have a great office space in which to work. Trust your instincts. I must say that without my awesome coach I might still be struggling to find the formula for success – my coach helped me to develop a vision for what my company has become, as well as what it will grow to be. And, the most important advice I can give: never give up on yourself or your dreams – “just keep swimming.”
Find Lauren Cohen Online:
LinkedIn : @ecouncilincLearn how Lauren Cohen @eCouncilInc #workathome helping others achieve the American Dream #successstoryClick To Tweet
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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