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On the Path: Life Coaching for
Small Business Owners
by Jaya Schillinger

One of the distinctions that sets coaching apart from other
types of consulting is that coaching specifically addresses the
client's sense of who they are in the world, and helps the client
make life choices that are aligned with their personal values. In
my opinion, there tends to be a split in the psyche of America
between personal and career development. If you look in the index
of your local telephone company's Yellow Pages ™ you can easily
find "Business Services" and "Counseling Services." In my local
directory, I notice that the business advertisements use a lot of
words like, "strategies," "leadership," and "business planning."
The counseling listings include, "addictions," "crisis," and
"mental health." All of those services are valuable, but where
does the over-worked owner of an independent business, who is
getting burnt out, and rarely gets time with loved ones, go for
support? What about the sole-proprietor in a specialized service
industry, like an alternative health practitioner, who is just
starting to grow their business and wants to do so in a way that
honors their belief system? What kind of support is going to best
suit them?

It seems that many of the business consultants are geared towards
the needs of larger, more corporate companies. In general,
consultants are the resource one might use to learn how to set
up and run a business or to delegate specific tasks to, such as
webmasters, accountants, and the like. Counselors on the other
hand, are the resource one might use for changing behaviors and
healing personal issues. The small business owner may not need
help managing a large executive staff, nor have terribly
difficult personal problems for which they need to receive
therapy. But that doesn't mean that they don't need personal
support as they go about making the changes necessary to have a
successful and profitable business. One of the beautiful things
about coaching is that it addresses the client as whole and
complete person. Life coaching may include the development of
practical business skills, but it also includes the development
of the person who is creating the business. Coaching is not just
concerned with what a person does, but coaching enhances who a
person is being while they're going about the tasks of daily
life. It's personal empowerment in action.

According to the Small Business Bureau's report, Small Business
Economic Indicators for 2002 "Small firms represent about 99
percent of employers, employ about half of the private sector
workforce and are responsible for about two thirds to three
quarters of the net new jobs." They are the creative pulse of
America. Ignited by the spark of wanting to make a difference
in the world, and the desire to live a life of freedom,
entrepreneurs start off passionately. However, the creativity
that motivates a small business owner to go into business in the
first place often gets dampened as the daily administration of
the business takes over. There is so much to do: formulating the
business, structuring the business plan, implementing the plan,
and still trying to maintain a life. What started as a quest for
freedom and the ability to control one's destiny, has now become
a chore of monotonous practicalities and financial struggle,
leaving the business owner with even less freedom then before
they started. At what point does the business fail? Maybe the
business owner just finally gives up and quits. Is it that the
owner didn't have a viable idea? Did they not try hard enough?
Tough times? It would be presumptuous to second guess why so many
new businesses close, but the small business owner would be wise
to gather as much personal support as they can to keep themselves
energized and on-target. The American Dream is possible, but it
doesn't come easy.

As a coach, I love to work with entrepreneurs. There is a special
magic in the creativity that inspires someone to begin their own
business. A business can truly become a "calling," as the owner
walks a path that leads to spiritual growth and provides benefit
to the community. I admire people who create meaningful lives,
and are willing to face the challenges that come with following
their inspiration. Some challenges however, can intensify to the
level that they become "spiritual wake-up calls." When a business
has gone flat, profits are non-existent, and the business owner's
personal life has diminished, I believe it's time to stop and
revaluate before the business goes into a fatal downward spiral.
At this point I think it's imperative to work with the business
owner directly. If the owner isn't happy, if their energy is low,
they're not going to be in a creative solution-oriented state of
mind. This is going to have a negative effect on everyone around
them, both at work and at home. Albert Einstein said that
solutions to problems cannot be found at the same level of energy
that created them. Simply "trying harder," or "doing more" may
not only be impossible, it may be ineffective as well. For the
most positive results, it is essential for the business owner to
revitalize their health, relationships, and to feel inspired

Inspiration, "in spirit," is the revitalizing flow of new energy,
awareness, and ideas. Like a breath of fresh air, inspiration
allows us to feel alive. When I am coaching a client, I inquire
deeply into what is most inspiring to them. Through a process of
questions, self-inquiry, and sometimes professional assessments,
my clients begin to remember who they really are and to get their
priorities back in order. We might discuss their values, life
purpose, or simply what it is that they want to create. What
I find is that people respond more creatively and productively
in business when they are first taking care of themselves.
Inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. There is a natural
tendency to want to take action when one has the rush of creative
renewal. That is the perfect time to set business and personal
goals, especially within the context of the client's stated
priorities, and who they want to be in the world, beyond any
experience of what they have done (or not done) thus far.

Having a renewed sense of purpose and commitment is vital to
moving forward again, but that does not mean it will go
unchallenged. Here is where coaching is especially valuable.
For new results to occur there has to be a well-conceived plan
and follow-through on implementing the plan. There is a natural
tendency to repeat old patterns. Change does not usually come
from insight alone. In my opinion, that's why a lot of self-help
techniques and seminars don't work. Lasting change is an internal
process that results from direct experience, and really "getting
it" for one's self. There are slow and fast ways to integrate
transformative learning, but the change must be internalized for
it to work. As a coach, I walk my clients through the process of
implementing the changes they want to make. And although it
doesn't make challenges any less likely to occur, coaching
increases the self-mastery of the client and helps them align
their decisions and actions to their stated goals. Over time,
things get smoother. Choices become clearer. The small business
owner is supported and empowered to make professionally savvy
decisions, sourced from an intuitive knowing about what is right
for them, instead of acting and reacting unconsciously to
circumstances. Immediately, the client is living from their
values on a daily basis, resulting in personal satisfaction at
the end of the day. The split between personal and career
development begins to mend.

Since I'm a coach, I will end with a question: What would the
world be like if everyone felt personally fulfilled in their
work, satisfied from being recognized for their gifts and
talents, and also had abundant quality time with their loved
ones? Do you think the world would be different? Would your life
be different? If anyone has the power to create a paradigm shift
in the balance between personal life and work, it's America's
small business owners-and that change needs to begin with the
owners themselves. A professional coach can help you keep your
sense of self while you journey on the path that leads to your

About the Author:
Jaya Schillinger "The Turnaround Queen" at is a certified life coach
& small business consultant with over 20 years of business
ownership & management experience in the fields of personal
development, health, and beauty.


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