Meet Kristen Gyolai! An attorney who started her own small business in 2018. Read her inspiring career path story below.
Tell us about your business.
I am an attorney. I own my own law firm called The Law Office of Kristen Gyolai, where I help individuals who have been injured on the job. I also help individuals who have been denied short or long-term disability benefits.
I opened my doors in March 2018.
THE EARLY DAYS
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
I wanted to be a teacher or a pediatrician.
What was your first job?
I did a lot of baby-sitting! My first job outside of baby-sitting was at a strawberry patch. I still visit that strawberry patch every summer when I’m home visiting my parents.
THE LEARNING YEARS
Where did you attend college? What’s your degree?
I went to the University of Minnesota Duluth – go Bulldogs! I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Writing Studies.
What was your first job out of college?
Right after I graduated from college, I started law school at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law).
List your jobs until you started your own business.
Throughout law school I worked as a law clerk at a few different law firms in the Twin Cities. Right out of law school, I worked as an Associate Attorney at a mid-sized firm in Minneapolis.
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL YEARS
What year did you decide to start your own business?
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
At the downtown law firm, I reached a point where I felt… the best word I can think of to describe it is “content.” I have always been a very hard-working individual and I believe in challenging myself. I knew that there was an opportunity for growth in terms of compensation at the firm, but I desired more. I wanted to build something that was mine. I became obsessed with personal growth books and podcasts. I also surrounded myself with people who inspired me to try something new. Over the holiday season in 2017-2018, I even wrote “quit my job and start my own firm” at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
My business is still in its infancy. It really does not look much different today than when I started in March 2018.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
1. You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to
2. Working is enjoyable if you make it
3. Turning to others for support is not a sign of weakness, it is a key to success
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
1. Set up a brick and mortar office
2. Hire an employee (either a legal secretary or a paralegal)
3. Throw an epic party to celebrate a successful first year of business
What’s your strongest skillset that’s help you succeed?
Determination. If I put my mind to something, I am going to get it done.
In this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
1. Other entrepreneurs
2. My husband
3. Surprisingly, the attorneys that I’m generally fighting against have been incredibly supportive of me!
THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Have you had any hardships or set-backs in your business or personal life? How did you overcome it or did it make you stronger?
When I had my daughter, I was still working at my former firm. I took ten weeks off. My return to work went very well. Daycare was great; my husband was great; and I was thrilled to be back at work.
When the excitement of “being back” wore off, I fell into a routine that I can best describe as eat, work, take care of baby, sleep (kind of) and repeat. Every day, for months, felt exactly the same and it was the first time I ever thought of my life as a grind. I didn’t like it at all.
The first step that I made to get out of that routine was carving out time to exercise. When I started taking better care of myself, my whole outlook on life changed. I had more energy; I performed better at work; I was a better mom and wife. The more I focused on self-care, the more inspired I became. I truly believe that this time was the start of me finding my path to starting my own business.
ALL ABOUT YOU
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
No! It was a big surprise. I felt something tugging at my heart in the middle of 2017 and I resisted it for a long time.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I covet the time I spend with my husband and one-year-old daughter. We spend as much time as we can outside. When I have time to myself I love to read, cook, and bake. I care deeply about taking care of my physical body, so I always find time to workout. I used to be a runner; I completed a few marathons. Now I like a combination of cardio and strength training.
Family members: My husband, Joel. My 17-month old, Luella. My dog, a mini labradoodle, Ruby.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
I don’t have a favorite.
Age you’d like to retire at.
Travel location on your bucket list.
Introvert or Extrovert.
Night owl or early bird
Favorite business tool.
Right now, I like Everlance (mileage tracker).
Three female entrepreneurs you admire.
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