Sizing up Her Elephant

We find Victoria standing on the edge of needing to write a business plan. The truth about business plans is that most entrepreneurs don’t write them.

Victoria is not “most entrepreneurs” and I’m not surprised to find her sizing up this task that often resembles eating an elephant.

I agree that she would benefit from writing a business plan. She is at the point of rebranding her reinvented business. Her new model requires formally joining forces with other teams and alliances. A business plan will be useful when promoting and attracting these types of relationships.

Due to the array of business goals and the endless variety of circumstance and scenario, there is not such thing as a standard business plan. Add to the mix that a business plan once written must not be allowed to go stale. It is advised to rework it each year or every other year. I offered Victoria a template I use with small businesses. It is a short, sweet version of eating an elephant.

On reviewing the template she realized that it’s not that much different than developing a strategic plan for a nonprofit organization, which she does as part of her consulting practice. The terminology used might be slightly different but the areas she needs to address are pretty much the same.

She looked over my offering and determined that she was going to give it a strong broad sweep. Meaning, instead of writing one chunck at a time (which most folks do) she would fill out the entire template with her first thoughts. That way she’d have at least a complete V 1.0 at the end of her efforts. Then she’ll go back and work on the chunks, always keeping the big picture in mind.

I’m happy to share a copy of my template with anyone who wants one. Simply request it by writing me at and placing “short biz plan” in the subject line. Below you’ll find other reasons that an entreprenur might want to write a business plan. They include:

  • Attract potential partners and funders needed to grow a business.
  • Support you in evaluating the strengths, weaknesses and viability of alternatives for your company.
  • Provide you with critical documentation necessary for a potential buy-out.
  • Provide you with a baseline comparable to measure growth against in years to come.
  • Provide you with clarity and a roadmap. Just as writing up a proposal helps you think through a potential engagement, writing up a business plan helps you thing through a potential business structure.


And in conslucion I’d like to reiterate my originial statement about the entreperneurial tendency to not write a business plan by sharing a snippet take from Inc. Magazine:

One question in this year’s survey of Inc 500 founders asked whether they had written formal business plans before they launched their companies. Only 40% said yes. Of those, 65% said they had strayed significantly from their original conception, adapting their plans as they went along. In a similar vein, only 12% of this year’s Inc 500 group said they’d done formal market research before starting their companies.  Seat of the Pants, by Sarah Barlett, October 15, 2002.

At the end of the day it all comes down to each individual needing  to size  your own need to eat an elephant… or not.



To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here. 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.


Living in the Storm of the Neutral Zone

The oscillating space between what you’ve done in the past and the recalibration of what you’ll do in the future often involves choppy waters. We call these choppy waters the neutral zone of a working identity transition.

While in this zone it’s important to remember that the process of finding a new working identity should not be compared to digging around in your head for a single hidden treasure. We are not looking for that “one true thing” you can become. Instead, finding your way is comprised of a collection of explorative journeys within a variety of possibilities. All these possibilities begin in the realm of ideation and brainstorm.

Part of my job is to support the client through this choppy time by taking these ideas and concepts and converting them into actual single steps or small projects we call “experiments”.

These experiments give you a chance to step into a possibility to sense how it feels. We never know what will happen while experimenting, yet I can guarantee that each one informs us by offering up a piece of concrete – a block of experiential knowledge that informs future experiments and can be built upon.

Through her past connections and conversations, Victoria has been able to germinate three potential experiments.

She describes these as such:

  1. My coaching work with nonprofit arts professionals is slow to grow in part because people in this low-paying industry don’t always have the funds to pay for a coach even when they want one. I recently received an email with information about an opportunity for young arts professionals in California to apply for coaching scholarships. I will send out one of my bi-monthly communiqués with information about this funding source. The hope of course is that they will use any grant monies to hire me, but I know that simply sharing the information is an act of good will that is important in and of itself.
  2. I’ve been developing a program to support first time executive directors of in the nonprofit arts sector. I recently got a nibble from a national arts service organization that is interested in helping me pilot the program. They could provide me with fiscal sponsorship which would enable me to apply for project development grants, marketing support to get the word out about my product and the use of their distance learning software to create online courses. I’m not sure how this will play out, but knowing that a major player in my sector believes in the concept and wants to help is a terrific first step.
  3. A coaching client has been using Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for some of our work together. It has excited her so much she’s been talking with her colleagues about it. She suggested I start a leadership book group using this book for her and others like her – she indicated that she and her colleagues would be willing to “pay me” to create a group to help them work through it together. Music to my ears.


When we change our career and we reinvent the manner in which we work we can’t follow conventional wisdom. No amount of self-reflection or pondering can substitute for jumping in and taking action. Once you jump in, as Victoria has, your vision becomes far more informed from that experiential vantage point. So if you are working on a career change, pull your head out of diving into the depths of thought. Plunge your entire self into the act of doing something.

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here.


To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

Matt Is Nimble Matt Is Quick

Say the name Matthew Landis at a party or gathering place in Salt Lake City and heads will turn.  Two salons bear his name, thousands of Aveda advocates have been trained by him, local TV spots feature him, several businesses in the area have been branded by him and the list goes on.

Personally, Matthew is a delight to know and a rock star to coach. Within the first twenty minutes of meeting him I had a hunch that his career transition (hedgehog process) would move quickly. “Quickly” has become an understatement.

Never in my 13 years of coaching has anyone been so prepared to blow out of their outgrown perspectives and a “past work life” in order to dive into deep professional transition.

Primed for this next chapter, Matthew had determined two years ago to create a more sustainable life for himself. He sold his home. When we started working togetehr he stepped away from a draining commute and a job that was no longer exceptional.

Today we are leveraging Matthew’s name-brand recognition within the salon industry by contracting out his training and coaching abilities. We’re honing in on his value in the TV spots by clarifying his sexy new brand. And his intense intelligence and broad experience is partnering up other entrepreneurial minds to create business offerings and models in the beauty scene that have not existed before. Already, in five months Matthew’s coaching is propelling this bundle of creativity, love and learning to his next level.

I could go on, and on about Matthew. However, it might prove interesting for you to hear directly from him where he’s been compared to where we are now in his transition:

I have worked and trained in salons from Salt Lake, New York, Atlanta, and to Miami.  I have opened several spas and salons, and helped many friends with their small businesses.  I know how to attract good, talented people, and what it takes to keep them happy and provide them with incentives and opportunity to take ownership of their lives and their careers.  My real gift, however, is helping people to reach success and find that inner strength to guide them where they want to go.

Lyn was right – I was ready to jump.  I knew that I wanted something different from my career and my life but I needed someone to bounce my ideas and thoughts off of.  It’s clear to me now that I have been in this a major life transition for several years now. Lyn and the coaching process have been a tremendous help in facilitating and finding that greater sense of self and purpose that was inside me the whole time.  I was so used to creating change in my life by jumping off cliffs, sometimes to good effect and sometimes not.  This process has been experimental and methodical at the same time.  My biggest challenge now is that I get so excited I wanna change the world in one fell-swoop, but I’m learning to sit on my hands and breathe first.  I firmly believe everyone needs a coach of some kind.  I’m so, so, so glad I found mine.

As you follow Matthew’s story on this blog just know this: If we make too big of a transition too quickly, we risk leaving a chunk of financial gain and personal satisfaction on the table.

Our challenge in this engagement will be to keep an eye on the speedometer, and navigate the tight turns and twists along the road. Watch out world, Matthew Landis has just left the starting gate.


Victoria in the Marketplace

When approaching the market with a new working identity, there are several things one needs to keep in mind. Victoria is doing well on three such items:

First she is watching for responses to her marketing efforts. One obviously needs to regroup if smart marketing practices are not being responded to. In the early stages of putting herself out there what we are looking for is a connection between her perceived need in the market and an actual need in the market.

Victoria reports that she is getting this affirmation. She had three potential clients contact her from one single marketing effort and she has already set meetings with each one. Way to go Victoria!

In addition she is getting positive accolades about her marketing structure and operational structure from her marketing class instructor. Again, thumbs up Victoria.

Next, Victoria is learning how to NOT take it personally if people opt out of her database as she markets her new offerings. In our last session, Victoria reported on the internal response she had to the first “unsubscribe” to her email messages. She acknowledged that it can feel like a personal rejection. But she also knows that it is really about someone making a choice to reduce email clutter.  In Victoria’s words, “The person who opted out may not want to receive future emails, but she may have also mentally “filed away” the information that I provide these services to people in our industry. Opting out doesn’t mean she won’t refer clients my way in the future if she is asked for recommendations.”

Finally, Victoria is working on her bridge. In this case, building a bridge means that she is not expecting to earn all her living right now from new clients who attach to her new identity. She continues looking for work that is compatible with her skill set so that she can continue to have an income while she’s building her new practice.

No career transition or reinvention ever happens right out of nowhere. We have to make things happen. Keep it up Victoria. I believe in you.


To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here.

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.