Coaches help with life and business

"Like any opera singer or professional athlete, small businesses owners need coaches to help them grow in a competitive marketplace, according to professional business coach Molly Gordon.Business coaches aren't consultants or counselors, but they can help create a business plan. They also can help established businesses grow and market more effectively. Where I differ from a consultant is that a consultant will come and sell a computer network, install it and answer questions. I help identify clients' breakdowns, where things aren't working in their private (life) or business, said Gordon, whose business is based in her Suquamish home.Gordon - who use to own Mollycoddles, a fiber art studio on Bainbridge Island - is part of a network of coaches who work with clients all over the country, conducting business by telephone and e-mail.Eighty percent of my clients I've never met, but it feel like it's a real relationship, said Gordon, who has clients as far away as in Ireland, London, Argentina, Chicago and Washington, D.C.Business coaches take a holistic approach to solving problems. Coach Maria Marsala said that in addition to helping clients form business and marketing plans, she tells them good books to read, talks to them about their personal lives and helps them identify reasons they haven't accomplished their goals. Marsala, a former Wall Street stock trader and director of non-profit organizations, prefers to coach businesses with fewer than 50 employees. My typical clients have a full-time job, but know they want to start their own business, Marsala said.Gordon said she helps clients form productive physical practices, and she often recommends journaling, meditation and dietary changes.What I don't have is a menu - I don't believe in using a formula, Gordon said. Instead, Gordon tailors action plans individually, based on the goals and needs of the client.Gordon, who specializes in businesses with fewer than 30 employees, charges a flat fee of $375 dollars a month, which includes three telephone sessions and unlimited e-mails.I structure my fees so clients never have to feel like the meter is running. Gordon said.Marsala's fee table has several payment options, ranging from $175 to $600.A typical coaching session lasts about six months, but both women said the timeframe varies according to clients' goals. Both coaches said they had skills and talents which made the job desirable, and each read articles about business coaches which made things fall into place for them.Marsala was looking for a new career involving mentoring, writing and teaching after a car accident prevented her from working long hours. She ran across an article in the newspaper about business coaching and decided to enroll in a virtual coaching school.By the time she graduated in 2000, her business was in full swing. I went into coaching not to be a business coach, but to be a life coach, to help people find balance, an ideal career and an ideal place to live, Marsala said. But by doing that I realized I had a knack for working with business owners and I expanded my business. Gordon had been informally working as a coach when a friend showed her an article about business coaching. She attended the Academy for Coach Training and a graduate program at the Newfield Network.She currently is enrolled in a program offered by Living Systems, a company which teaches distinctions and practices relevant to coaching. Coaching conferences and speaking engagements dictate that business coaches do a good deal of traveling, according to Marsala and Gordon. Both women publish newsletters to help stay in contact with clients. "

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