Kelli Hegsted | Crain's Seattle

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kelli Hegsted


Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County is a youth development agency serving youths ages 5 to 18. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

The Mistake:

Listening to the tapes that replayed from my past and believing that I would never be good enough, would never be successful because I was a woman, and that I was never going to be smart enough to amount to anything. Every time I got close to success, they would start playing, and I’d start second-guessing what I was doing.

When it came to starting my own accounting and tax business in 2010, I would listen to the advice of other people. Everybody had their own opinion on different tests my employees should take and different personalities I needed to hire, clients I should take, where I should put my office. I moved three times until I finally got in the right place.

I learned pretty quickly with new hires; you find out within about two weeks if they can cut it. After my third hire that didn’t work out, I knew I needed to figure out the type of people I needed to help me. I started changing how I interviewed, questions I asked. I learned to go more with my gut than what was on the paper. Once I started thinking that way, things started moving in the right direction. I got really good people, I got more clients, and my business grew from there.

Believe in yourself and you can do great things.

The Lesson:

These mentors and advisers might have known more than me because they’d been in business longer than me. But what I finally realized was that what worked for their businesses didn’t necessarily work for mine.

I had the confidence to apply for the job I have now, whereas before I wouldn’t have. It’s my dream job. They approached me to be interim CFO while they went through the hiring process, but before we were done talking, I asked to apply for the job, and the executive director said, “Absolutely. Let’s set up an interview right now.”

My advice for women starting their own business is doing what your gut tells you to do. Believe in yourself and you can do great things. Remember you are your best advocate. 

Follow Kelli Hegsted on Twitter at: @BGCThurstonCo 

Pictured: Kelli Hegsted. | Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer, DG Studio. 

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