Before hiring Mick, I had been freelancing on-and-off for a few years. I had been making a serious effort to grow my independent business for about a year when I started talking to Mick. I wanted to be able to quit my part-time job and work for myself full-time. My husband was very supportive, but talking about the business together was stressful and seemed to make it harder to make decisions.
My core problem was two-fold: grow my business well and make sure work didn't consume the rest of my life. Growing my business was not proving as difficult as keeping the rest of my life in balance. Before, I always prided myself on having a rich life outside of work but the more I invested in building my business, the less I actually took time for those things. I felt overwhelmed by all the demands on me and my apparent inability to balance clients, projects, friendships, and hobbies.
At first, I was not sure engaging a coach was worth the money, to be honest. I was also afraid of the time commitment. One hour a week seemed like a lot, but I quickly realized those meetings were helping me accomplish more. Even better, I avoid doing useless work or projects not suited for my skills because I set better boundaries and expectations. As my business grew and I took more and better jobs, it was obvious that coaching was helping me earn more.
I talk with Mick four times per month. If necessary, I can also call him for special consultations between sessions. I have not done that too often, but a few times it was crucial in helping me make a decision or work through a tricky situation. Last Fall, for instance, I got a big contract opportunity. I wasn't sure I should take it for a variety of reasons. I decided to ask Mick for a special consultation outside of our normal schedule to talk it over and make a more informed decision. When I accepted the job, I was fairly confident it was the right decision. My confidence was rewarded because the project has yielded not just revenue but further opportunities for me already.
Regular consultations with Mick mean I plan and think about my week differently. I evaluate myself, my work, and the things I want to accomplish often enough that I can make progress toward my most important goals. I appreciate having a friend and adviser. Being a business owner can be lonely. Fellow business owners are usually figuring it out as they go along, just like you are. They can commiserate but rarely mentor. Sometimes they know about as much about the marketplace as you do or less. They usually don't have enough time to chat regularly. They also might not have the expertise to advise you on issues beyond professional problems. Mick is impartial, knowledgeable, and encouraging. It's a really helpful mix!
Professionally, I grew my business from barely afloat to prospering - a 300% growth in revenue. I improved my client interactions and began setting more appropriate expectations for large-scale projects and smaller maintenance projects alike. This helped me move from fearing email notifications to being happy to hear from clients and prospects.
Personally, Mick helped me make sure work was going well so I could embrace the rest of my life. I don't work constantly like I did. I take weekends, get regular exercise, and take time for family and friends. Mick also helped me take an important personal step in the form of a trip. I started working with Mick over a year after my father passed away. I wanted to take a trip to visit his family and friends in South America. It's expensive and complicated enough to get down there, so I wanted to go for at least 3-4 weeks. How in the world I could take my (at-the-time) barely thriving business through a 4 week hiatus and pay for a steep plane ticket? I really wanted it, but it seemed impossible. Mick helped me make a plan, step by step. He never doubted that something that important was worth my attention - even if it made me no money.
I just returned from my wonderful trip last week and I have plenty of work to come back to. My clients are happy because we planned out my projects well. Most important, I enjoyed connecting with my dad's friends, family, and my memories of him. I have photos, videos, stories, and my own memories to last a lifetime and share with the rest of my family. That is priceless.
I would definitely recommend working with Mick. On my own, I made to-do lists; with Mick I'm choosing the right tasks to list and accomplish. On my own, I tried to make everyone else happy; with Mick I set priorities based on what will make me happy and my relationships with clients and loved ones thrive. On my own, I felt overwhelmed and lonely often; with Mick I have a resource to prevent stress when it's possible and provide support when it's not. On my own, I was white-knuckling it; with Mick I'm crushing it.
Learn more about Erica and her work here: http://ericapalmisano.com/