Brian chats with Nicole “Nici” Kersey, the founder of Kersey Immigration Compliance, a law firm specializing in employment-based immigration issues. Nici discusses how she created her firm out of necessity, then grew it into a company that provides opportunities for veterans and military families. She also opens up about how she uses expertise to her advantage and how becoming a baseball fan helped her let go of perfectionism.
It can take time to get comfortable being a business owner.
Running her own business was not something that Nici planned to do. But when the military assigned her spouse to a new location out of state, the big law firm she worked for let her go.
“I got the greatest push out the door of the airplane,” Nici said. “It’s scary to start your own business, but I was told we can’t employ you anymore.”
While Nici could no longer work full-time for her former law firm, the company still wanted to hire her as a contractor because of her expertise in immigration law. So she set up her own business, and in the ensuing years, grew her client roster to include more law firms and other businesses. Still, it took her years to feel confident in her new role as a business owner.
“It took seven years probably before I stopped thinking that I was being fired by my clients,” she said. “It took seven years for me to feel confident that it’s not failing.”
Mission-driven businesses use profit to serve a purpose.
At first, Nici didn’t believe her law firm was a mission-driven business. But conversations with Brian and listening to this podcast changed her definition of what a mission-driven business can be.
“I would say that a mission-driven business is a business that makes a profit, but the profit serves a purpose,” she said. “So it’s not a business that’s only driven by profit.”
Like other entrepreneurs on the podcast, Nici’s business purpose has evolved over time. Right now, her purpose is two-fold: (1) Making sure people get quality immigration advice and services and (2) providing opportunities for military spouses or people in similar situations.
“When my business started, my mission was to not be unemployed. To pay my student loans and my mortgage,” she said. “It shifted in that I was able to help both military spouses and really focus on some smaller law firms.”
Use expertise to your advantage.
One of the things Nici has learned in her career is the benefit of expertise. While she didn’t set out to focus on a specific type of immigration law, her niche has allowed her to connect with clients and thrive as a business owner.
That expertise comes with other perks, too. For instance, in 10 years, she went from attending a conference on immigration law to leading the event.
“I still remember the first time I trained a client on I-9 stuff and how terrified I was,” Nici said. “Now I could do that in my sleep.”
Want to let go of perfectionism? Watch baseball.
When Nici moved to Florida, she moved into a house just three miles from the stadium where the Tampa Bay Rays play. Living so close to a Major League Baseball team has turned her into a fan — and taught her important lessons about perfectionism.
“Watching baseball made me really focus more on the fact that you don’t have to be perfect,” she said. “These players are the best in the world at being a baseball player, and they mess up all the time, right?”
Nici takes those lessons from the baseball diamond to her work as a business owner. For instance, she strives for excellence rather than perfection. She also tries to accept mistakes and move forward.
“When you make a mistake, you can learn from it if it’s something that you can learn from, but a lot of times, all you learn is don’t do that again,” she said. “Also, be graceful about your mistakes. Admit them, apologize for them, and fix them to the extent that you can.”
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About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast
Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.
On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.