Don’t be afraid to answer tough questions. Leading and running a purpose-driven business is more difficult because it takes into account things like ethics, legality, and what is right. Don’t shy away from these things.
In today’s competitive business landscape, the race for profits often takes center stage. However, there are some leaders who also prioritize a mission-driven purpose. They use their business to make a positive social impact and recognize that success isn’t only about making money. In this interview series, we are talking with some of these distinct leaders and I had the pleasure of interviewing Vena Verga-Danemar, J.D., LL.M (Tilburg), LL.M (UNIGE/IHEID/GA).
Vena, the Onlinepreneur Legal Strategist and Legal Coach at Legally She Can, brings over a decade of experience as a business lawyer. Her passion lies in assisting coaches, experts, and service-based business owners in navigating the complexities of online entrepreneurship, helping them attract clients worldwide while steering clear of legal drama. Residing in Zurich with her Swedish husband, daughter, and a 16-year-old Russian feline son, Vena combines legal expertise with entrepreneurial experience and a commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs on their online business journey.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was raised in a traditional Filipino family of lawyers and teachers. As a child, I witnessed how my grandfather, a judge, touched the lives of many people around him through his service. Flocks of people would often visit the house asking for his counsel or assistance with the most mundane of things.
I told myself that I wanted to make such an impact, which is why I pursued legal studies.
Life, however, had different plans, and the firm I joined focused on big players like multinational corporations and international companies — not exactly the type of clients I wanted to serve. If I were to gauge my success based on the paycheck I receive and the position in the firm I was occupying, then I can easily say that I am successful.
However, I often wondered if I was meant to do something else — a life of service or a different purpose, perhaps?
I was able to answer this question only a decade later.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Re-starting my life in a new country allowed me to reinvent my career. In Switzerland, I was able to create a business that focuses solely on small women-owned service-based enterprises.
My very first client was a yoga instructor, a “trailing spouse.” Unlike a traditional law firm, I did not use hourly billing. This enabled me to connect with my clients on a deeper level. I inquired about her backstory, how she found herself in Switzerland, and her aspirations for her business. I applied this approach with my subsequent clients and realized that my own aspirations were mirrored in theirs.
These meaningful conversations helped guide Legally She Can into a company that provides solutions beyond legalities. They also made me realize the need to create a platform that empowers and supports women.
Most importantly, they impacted my individual growth. I am able to create genuine connections, which fuels me each day. I am happier and enjoying work-life balance. Finally, witnessing my clients grow in their businesses brings me so much fulfillment.
We often learn the most from our mistakes. Can you share one that you made that turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?
I used to think that I needed to be liked by everyone. I was constantly seeking approval and validation from others, which made me compromise my own values and priorities. I would go to great lengths to accommodate people, often at the expense of my well-being. This led to stress, which became a valuable lesson when I started my own business.
In the world of entrepreneurship, it’s impossible to please everyone. Trying to do so can lead to burnout, inconsistency in decision-making, and ultimately, a lack of clarity in your business’s mission and values. I realized that, just as in my personal life, it was crucial to be authentic and true to my business’s core values and objectives, even if it meant not everyone would be a customer or supporter.
As a successful leader, it’s clear that you uphold strong core values. I’m curious what are the most important principles you firmly stand by and refuse to compromise on. Can you share a few of them and explain why they hold such significance for you in your work and life?
First and foremost, your peace of mind is priceless. If given the choice between money and peace of mind, ego or pride versus peace of mind, always choose the latter.
As a young litigator, I thrived on petty squabbles; after all, that is how I earned my living. However, years of observing friends and families embroiled in such petty conflicts illuminated the harsh truth: there are no true victors in these situations.
Today, as an entrepreneur, I wholeheartedly understand the importance of peace of mind when it comes to effectively managing and expanding a successful business. This is a lesson I share with my clients.
Choosing peace of mind extends beyond merely sidestepping unnecessary legal drama. It also involves adequately preparing your business to navigate potential legal challenges should they arise.
Another core value I firmly stand by is transparency. In business, you need to earn people’s trust for them to become clients. Transparency is the bedrock upon which trust is built and fosters lasting relationships with your clients.
But how does one achieve transparency? It involves openly sharing information, admitting mistakes when they occur, consistently being honest and forthright in your dealings, and adhering to rules such as Data Protection Regulations. The latter is particularly crucial as the protection of personal data ranks high among consumer priorities.
Finally, I value self-reliance. As an entrepreneur, many things are out of your control. When you focus on things beyond your control, you often feel anxious and stressed.
My first year in business was exactly like this. I felt that I was being pulled in all directions and getting conflicting advice from business coaches who were offering yet another shiny object I didn’t really need in my business.
The remedy to this predicament lies in embracing self-reliance. Business owners need to take charge of the things they can control, like going back to the basics and focusing on building foundations.
We need to teach ourselves sufficient skills to help us reduce the burden of external uncertainties. Being the true CEO of your business empowers you and develops resilience to navigate the unpredictable world of business.
Can you help articulate a few of the benefits of leading a purpose-driven business rather than a standard “plain vanilla” business?
The benefits are two-pronged.
My clients and students include mothers of young kids who left their 9–5 jobs to take care of their families, pensioners who want to do more even during retirement, middle-aged women who dream of changing their career paths, experts and freelancers who want to offer their services beyond borders, and trailing spouses who wanted to establish something for themselves and not just wait for the next “move.”
They tell me that they used to fear legal matters and never thought they could understand them on their own, let alone establish a thriving business that supports their dream life. I help them develop not just confidence but also self-reliance so they can be the true CEOs of their businesses. Being able to establish a business, despite and in spite of their circumstances, brings so much fulfillment to my clients.
We need more female business owners because women tend to establish businesses not just for monetary gains but because of their longing to create an impact. I am glad that I have touched lives by helping them build this kind of venture.
On my part, I feel more energized.
When I was in a law firm, I dreaded every day because all I got from my job was stress, anxiety, and caffeine addiction. My business allows me to look forward to each day with so much enthusiasm.
How has your company’s mission or purpose affected its overall success? Can you explain the methods or metrics you use to evaluate the impact of this purpose-driven strategy on your organization?
I am deeply honored to receive the majority of my clients through referrals and word of mouth. I attribute this to my company’s clear mission and purpose of empowering women-owned businesses. The consistent influx of clients, even without active promotional efforts, speaks volumes.
Furthermore, the openness of my clients in expressing their appreciation for the service and support they receive adds to this satisfaction. Lastly, witnessing the journey of my clients as they grow and scale their businesses after working with me serves as compelling evidence that I am truly making a meaningful impact.
Can you share a pivotal moment when you realized that leading your purpose-driven company was actually making a significant impact? Can you share a specific example or story that deeply resonated with you personally?
In 2020, I hosted twelve free online workshops and training sessions focused on women who were either contemplating starting their business or had already initiated one. After each session, I received messages from participants sharing how, before the workshops, they navigated the legal aspects of their businesses blindly. Some admitted that their lack of understanding in handling legalities had hindered them from pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations.
A few months after first hosting these workshops, a woman told me that she finally took a leap of faith, resigning from her 9–5 job to establish her private coaching practice. She expressed that she had been wanting to leave her job for the longest time to focus more on spending quality time with her child. However, she never had the confidence to do so until she attended my workshop.
Her transformative decision deeply resonated with me, bringing to mind the substantial impact of a similar choice I made years ago.
Before this moment, I viewed my role as simply disseminating “legal information.” However, this experience made me recognize my crucial role as a guide and mentor for these women on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Have you ever faced a situation where your commitment to your purpose and creating a positive social impact clashed with the profitability in your business? Have you ever been challenged by anyone on your team or have to make a tough decision that had a significant impact on finances? If so, how did you address and reconcile this conflict?
I have experienced being in a traditional firm and earning lots of money, but it never truly made me happy. So, when I started my purpose-driven business, it became clear to me that I am doing this not solely for the money. Besides, profitability has never been an issue because the mission of the company attracts more clients our way.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs who wish to start a purpose-driven business? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know I Order To Create A Highly Successful Purpose-Driven Business.”
I’m interested in how you instill a strong sense of connection with your team. How do you nurture a culture where everyone feels connected to your mission? Could you share an example or story that showcases how your purpose has positively influenced or motivated people on your team to contribute?
I make a sincere effort to understand each member of my team. Interestingly, our team comprises women who, like me, share the common goal of dedicating quality time to their families while making a lasting impact. This shared experience creates an immediate connection and mutual understanding of our mission. Each team member is aware of the significant role they play, not only within our team but also in the lives of other women business owner clients we serve.
Imagine we’re sitting down together two years from now, looking back at your company’s last 24 months. What specific accomplishments would have to happen for you to be happy with your progress?
I am particularly proud that our clientele now spans various European countries. This achievement enables me to assist more women entrepreneurs in showcasing their genius to the world. Currently, my efforts are directed towards automating certain aspects of our services, aiming to provide greater convenience for clients in handling their business legalities.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I want to empower women so that they can make authentic choices.
Women should have genuine choices in all aspects of their lives, whether it’s in their careers, personal relationships, or life paths. It is important to me that they can define success on their terms.
There is no single definition of success. I believe that, for women to be truly happy, their definition of success should align with their values. Otherwise, they will experience a constant inner struggle.
This movement aims to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the diverse paths and choices that women can make, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and inclusive world for everyone.
How can our readers further follow your work or your company online?
You can learn more about me and my work on my website www.legallyshecan.com. Every week, I release an episode of the Legally Fluent® Podcast: Online Business Decoded, where I share tips, strategies, and intimate secrets from successful online business owners that will inspire listeners to take action.
This was great. Thanks for taking time for us to learn more about you and your business. We wish you continued success!
About the Interviewer: Chad Silverstein is an accomplished entrepreneur and visionary leader. He started his first company, Choice Recovery, Inc., while attending Ohio State University and grew it to become an industry outlier before selling the business after 25 successful years. With the launch of his second venture, [re]start, a career development platform, Chad aimed to help people find meaningful career opportunities. Under his leadership, his team was recognized as a “Top Workplace” award winner for over a decade, twice being ranked the #1 small and medium-sized business to work for in Central Ohio. Chad sold [re]start in 2023, enabling him to focus on building an online community of high-performing leaders and continuing to make a positive impact in people’s lives.