Wednesday, December 12, 2012

6 Invaluable Advantages of Holistic Business Coaching

As the New Year approaches, ask yourself: What’s stopping me from hiring a business coach, either for myself or someone I care about?  Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘business coaching,’ but the advantages remain a bit unclear or undefined.   

When chatting with friends and acquaintances, I often feel uncertain where to begin when explaining just how transformative business coaching can be.  I want to use this entry to summarize the feedback I’ve received from clients on the most valuable, transformative aspects of a business coaching relationship.   

1.      Increase Your Focus and Bandwidth

Let’s face it.  Running a business is hard.  It’s time-consuming.  It can run you ragged and take a toll on your relationships with family and friends.  Time and stress management skills are something that traditional school systems never explicitly teach us, and yet these skills prove essential for almost type of professional.  The insights you extract from business coaching will enable you to boost your bandwidth in unexpected ways, making more room for personal reflection and strategic planning, but also for spending more quality time with the people you care about. 

2.      Set and Realize Values-Driven Goals

This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s one that cannot be overemphasized.  Holistic coaching looks to the client, rather than external sources of cookie-cutter common wisdom, for answers.  That is to say, your own needs, priorities and personality will shape and determine your goals, while your coach helps make them measurable and achievable.  Holistic coaching is not about imposing external values on you; it’s about using your own values as the driving force that leads you down a highly personalized path of constructive change.

3.      Boost Confidence and Awareness

The coaching process pushes you to look at your business from new angles, and opens your eyes to new possibilities and new ways of thinking, acting and reacting as a leader and manager.  Not only will you learn new skills in a way that reflects the way you naturally learn (verbal, visual, experiential, etc.), you will gain access to versatile tools and frameworks that you can carry with you throughout your career.  Working with a business coach persistently expands your comfort zone in a safe, supportive manner.  Coaching boosts your confidence and professional self-worth by helping you to capitalize on your strengths, relying on constructive feedback and affirmations rather than criticisms or judgments. 

4.      Expand Your Professional Network

One of the perks of business coaching is that coaches are natural connectors.  They have the ability to introduce their clients to a wide range of other professionals and service providers.  Whether you’re in need of a  down-to-earth attorney, trustworthy financial advisor, or affordable payment processor, your business coach can help put you in touch with allies and partners who can make your life a lot easier. 

5.      Grow Your Business and Brand

Coaching requires an investment of time, energy and, yes, money.  But holistic coaching is designed to ultimately pay for itself by enabling you to facilitate the growth of your business, through both increased revenue and greater efficiency.  While business growth serves as a central goal, it is by no means the only goal.  Holistic coaching aims to optimize –- rather than simply maximize –- business success.  In other words, greater financial success does not have to come at the expense of other important considerations like values, creativity, integrity, responsibility and social consciousness. 

6.      Extract More Satisfaction Out of What You Do

Holistic coaching operates under the premise that success is subjective, personal and multifaceted.  What is the point of growing your business if you can’t get no satisfaction from the process?  When running a business, the process must be at least as much the rewards as the outcome –- because in many cases, the ultimate results remain uncertain at best.  Business coaching helps to align your passion with your potential for meaningful outcomes.  It not only gives you permission and encouragement to succeed, it gives you the tools you need to make it happen.

What Are You Waiting For?

Business coaching is a game-changer.  No other investment you can make in your business offers these special types of returns.  The impacts it will have on your goals, bandwidth, growth, confidence, network and satisfaction represent priceless dividends that often begin to manifest very quickly, and pay out over time with a sustained, wholehearted commitment to the coaching process. 

Inclusiva offers coaching engagements for practically any type of enterprise and any level budget.  Don’t wait – start reaping the rewards today.  Email for a free introductory consultation.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Transcending Small Business Obstacles: An interview with Arturo Noriega

Arturo Noriega is an entrepreneur, small business expert and founder of Centro Community Partners.  His career includes work as a manager of advisory services at Ernst & Young, consulting for Deloitte and Aon, and business development at Barclays Global Investors.  

I first met Arturo through my work as an MBA Advisor at Centro.  I thought he would be a great resource, as someone who works every day to help small business owners and entrepreneurs overcome obstacles.  Here's the transcript from an interview I did with him a while back: 

LBBB: When professional investors assess the viability of a startup, they often examine three core ingredients: the Market, the Team, and the Technology/Innovation...not necessarily in that order.  Which of these core elements do you find to be the most important, and why?

AN: Most important to success?  I think there’s a pecking order from most to least, the most being the people.  Regardless of how good your tech is, unless you have a great team, you don’t really have anything.  Anything good starts with good people.  But you have to have a complimentary set of skills, meaning that everyone has a different sweet spot that contributes to the overall success of the company.

The next I’d say is market, the unmet need.  Then it would be the innovation or advantage that you’re offering but only so far as it responds to the need of the market.  And everything comes back to the team, the leadership.  You need that vision – leadership – that’s able to respond quickly to market demands, and really leverage whatever tech is being created here.

LBBB: What would you say is the greatest obstacle that small businesses tend to face?

AN: The greatest obstacles?  Time and money – the two things that kill any startup, especially in tech.   Lack of capital, running of money, underestimating capital requirements for carrying out operations…If the company does run out of capital it obviously can’t meet requirements of the market.  Also time, time for setting up and carrying out processes.  In one of the ventures I’ve been working on, everything has proven to cost twice as much as I thought and taken twice as long.  See, no one ever forecasts how much money and time it really takes.  Usually, take your forecasts and multiply by two.  That 2x multiple – most startups don’t see that coming and it’s really a killer.

LBBB: What about the flipside of that coin?  What would you say is the greatest asset that small business have but often overlook or fail to take advantage of?

AN: Ideas that are generated by the team because no one asks the question – in other words, the unidentified opportunities.  In startups, people are so focused on specific things and tasks that they don’t fully explore ideas or opportunities, don’t really look at the big picture.

Also, communication.  Because people are not available, they’re working virtually, or working on different projects, they don’t get that interaction and cooperation that stimulates the process, asking those what-ifs.  Human capital is the greatest asset – the potential is not fully recognized.  Leaders don’t even ask “what do you think?”

Another asset that’s overlooked is networks.  People feel they have a limited amount of professional advice to navigate waters of startup when really there are unlimited resources outside of the organization to help the startup succeed.

LBBB: We had a guest speaker talk to our class about the importance of space.  How important do you think brick and mortar is to a small business? What kind of pitfalls have you experienced that you would advise readers to avoid?

AN: Getting an office is important…if your budget allows it.  Many people now meet virtually or work from home, maybe even meet up in a cafĂ© somewhere to get certain things done, though that’s not always conducive to work.  The key thing is making sure you have appropriate office space.  You know what I mean?  Many startups get office space – because they don’t know better – and it’s just  inappropriate for their level of growth.  It’s either too expensive or too small, but either way it doesn’t allow for organic growth.  The trade off here is productivity, right?  That’s the whole point of office space, to make your company more productive.  You also want a physical address and that sense of legitimacy, that you’re a legitimate business in the eyes of your customers and the public.

LBBB: Besides the obvious issues of liability and regulations, what is it about HR and staffing that proves so difficult for small businesses? 

AN: You know that’s a really good question…(laughs) and I haven’t really come up with a solution yet.  HR is ongoing challenge, not just for startups.  The big thing I think is that vetting process – you want someone to be able to walk right in and be able to do [the job].  But that comes with a premium beyond the reach of small businesses.  What happens is that as they’re forecasting growth and allocating capital to staff, that’s done really poorly.  Roles and responsibilities are not well defined because people do multiple things.  In order to manage that , managers must really be sure to create detailed job descriptions.  You might realize you can split work between part-time workers instead of getting one fulltime professional.  I’ve done that and that works great. 

What happens, too – you don’t know how committed they are to the mission.  Motivation is so key. It is rocky.  You can navigate and manage that situation but until you measure performance… Another solution is to give up more equity to attract better people.  That way they have a vested interest in the success of the organization.  Motivation becomes the big issue and keeping people committed to the mission. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

5 Things You Should Know About Crowdfunding and the JOBS Act

Chances are you're aware of crowdfunding.  But what is all the fuss about?  

The JOBS Act is a controversial, multifaceted piece of legislation, shrouded in hype.  Proponents promise that it will be game-changing for startups and small businesses, while detractors dismiss it as a Trojan horse of deregulation.  So what does it all mean?  Will the JOBS Act really change the world?  It is really a license to print money?   The following post aims to shed some light on the topic of crowdfunding. 


Back on April 5, 2012 President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act (sorry, no relation to the late Steve), after being passed by an uncharacteristically bipartisan Congress.  The JOBS Act aims to encourage funding for small businesses and startups by easing the regulatory burdens on smaller companies, and permitting a form of fundraising known as crowdfunding, made possible by online crowdfunding platforms (CFPs) like Kickstarter and RocketHub.  The underlying premise is that small companies should be able to access funds from small investors without having to jump through the same hoops as giant corporations like Apple or Google. 

To learn more about the history of the JOBS Act, take a look at this nifty infographic here.

Okay, without further ado, here’s my list of the top five things to keep in mind about crowdfunding under the JOBS Act:

1.       The Crowdfunding Gold Rush Has Only Just Begun

The proof of concept for crowdfunding was established with the help of microlending platforms like Kiva, which connects people with money to impoverished entrepreneurs who lack access to traditional financial resources.  The basic premise behind crowdfunding platforms, or CFPs, is not totally dissimilar.

Like me, you’re probably most familiar with Kickstarter, the CFP launched in 2009 that has emerged as the brand name in the crowdfunding arena.  Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects supported by fans in return for rewards.  I was surprised to learn that a competitor, IndieGoGo, had actually launched in 2008, a year earlier than Kickstarter. 

With just a cursory web search, I found over 20 different CFPs – I’m sure there are many more out there, and even more in the pipeline. 

2.       The JOBS Act Really Does Change the Status Quo of Fundraising

As Morrison Foerster researchers explain, “[c]rowdfunding can be used to accomplish a variety of goals (e.g., raising money for a charity or other causes of interest to the participants), but when the goal is commercial in nature and there is an opportunity for crowdfunding participants to  share in the venture’s profits, federal and state securities laws will likely apply.”

The JOBS Act eases the longstanding prohibition against ‘general solicitation and general advertising’ in securities offerings.  The law will now provide a special exemption under the Securities Act for ‘crowdfunding’ offerings.  The reforms will also enable both accredited and non-accredited investors alike to participate, albeit with separate rules and thresholds.    

Learn more about some of the law's key parameters here.

3.       The Type of Funding Is Key

While the coverage of crowdfunding tends to lump all CFPs together, funding can take a variety of forms, each with different implications.  Platforms like Kickstarter, RocketHub, IndieGoGo and Go-FundMe use a model wherein project creators raise contributions from funders –- in exchange for rewards, rather than an ownership stake in the project.  These rewards can take many forms –- copies of products, mementos, experiences -- pretty much anything that has value and satisfies backers.

One idea underlying the rewards model is that the funds are considered business income, rather than securities (like common stock), which would fall under the auspices of the SEC.  While Kickstarter focuses on creative projects and has publicly stated that it does not intend to offer equity, others like RocketHub and IndieGoGo may attempt to transition to an equity model, requiring strict adherence to the SEC's forthcoming crowdfunding rules.

It appears that the JOBS Act -- and its pending SEC regulations -- are primarily concerned with equity and lending-based  crowdfunding platforms, which more closely resemble traditional securities offerings.

Graphic courtesy of Forbes 
Forty-nine percent of the total $585 million in funds raised by crowdfunding platforms has come through donation-based platforms.   Meanwhile, 18% has come from equity and 22% from lending-based models, which remain highly constrained until the SEC sorts out its approach to implementation.  Surprisingly, only 11% has come from rewards-based platforms like Kickstarter. 

4.       The SEC Has Until 2014 to Release Its Implementing Regulations

The SEC has until 2014 to create and implement its regulations, which will provide the specific rules of conduct permitted under the JOBS Act.  There have been a few previews of what’s to come; the SEC announced back in August that it would create distinct classes of crowdfunding investors, with separate rules for each class.  Until the SEC regs are released, pure equity platforms like Crowdfunder are stuck in a sort of legal limbo.  It will be interesting to see the SEC's approach, considering their justifiable concerns about the potential for fraud and abuse -- not to mention their naturally self-defensive resistance to any form of deregulation.  

5.       Crowdfunding Is Not Free Money

Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular with contributors and fundraisers alike.  As an example of crowdfunding's rapid growth in popularity, Venture Beat recently did a story on so-called Kickstarter addicts.  

“What you absolutely cannot do,” Forbes contributor Suw Charman-Anderson warns CFP users, “is treat crowdfunded money as some sort of magic bonanza that is exempt from normal business rules. It’s not.”

Despite its reputation as free – or at least cheap – money, the reality is that crowdfunding is NOT a tax-free windfall.  Reward-based crowdfunding proceeds are considered income by the IRS, just like any other sales income.  That means that companies raising funds will most likely face some sort of tax liability, especially for wildly successful projects. 

Many users also fail to read the fine print when it comes to the fees charged by the CFPs.  Kickstarter, for example, charges a 5% commission on all funds raised (once the target threshold has been reached).  On top of that, there’s a 3-5% fee from Amazon Payments for managing the transaction. 

The bottom line is that businesses and individuals raising money through CFPs need to factor in the costs and expenses, just like with any other source of capital. Crowdfunding may ultimately prove to be an attractive alternative for companies seeking to raise relatively modest amounts of capital from a large number of investors.  That said, companies will need to weigh the costs and risks that arise, including the tax implications and reporting requirements contemplated by the legislation.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Subverting the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

Just because we don't often talk about the glass ceiling in the startup world, doesn't mean it isn't there.  A study commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation, “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers,” helps to shed some light on a phenomenon that remains scarcely discussed despite its massive impact on the economy.  The report highlights a number of distressing trends and statistics that exemplify the gender gap in young companies.  For instance,   

  • Women have made far more significant strides in established tech companies and university systems than in startups.

  • Just 1.8 percent of women-owned firms have revenues more than $1 million, versus 6.3 percent of men-owned firms. 

  • Most Americans who start businesses do so as self-employed professionals or service providers – only a fraction have firms that employ others, and that fraction remains smaller for women. 

Intuitively, these feel like symptoms of pervasive cultural prejudices, which can be as damaging as they are hard to pin down.  The following comment from a business owner named Susan Roth, eloquently sums it up:  “As much as we may not like to admit it," says Roth, 

"the world is still a ‘Good Ole Boys Club.’  When women reach a certain level of success, I believe they experience push back from their male counterparts in the business community.  It’s subtle and may only be a word here or a phrase there, but it’s real.  As a result many women lose confidence and begin doubting themselves.  I’ve been running a successful, woman-owned business for over 25 years and have developed a thick skin over time.  But it still hurts when a supplier labels you ‘relentless’ and ‘picky.’  I’m sure if I were a man, the moniker would change to ‘tough, precise, exacting and good businessman.’  In short, there’s still progress to be made.”  

While the Kauffman report presents a wealth of interesting findings, its actionable next steps remain somewhat limited.  Here are some suggestions for what we can do to help challenge the gender gap in entrepreneurship (and please feel free to critique and/or add this list with comments!):

1. Get involved with organizations that train, support and fund female entrepreneurs

How many of the following organizations have you heard of, let alone contacted, visited or actively supported?  They almost always need help from professionals –- whether as volunteers, donors, consultants, or advocates.

  • Women’s Initiative --assists high-potential, low-income women who dream of business ownership. 

  • DigitalunDivided --develops programs, projects and forward thinking initiatives that bridge the digital divide. 

Other local orgs that support women entrepreneurs include:

2. Use crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter to support female entrepreneurs

The popular crowdfunder has been under pressure to make its system more transparent and its entrepreneurs more accountable.  If you’re more interested in microlending with an international scope, consider lending to low-income entrepreneurs around the world using Kiva

3. Turn up the pressure on VCs and angels to hire, promote and fund women

The professional investor community is dominated by men.  The average percentage of women venture capitalists at top VC firms has been found to be around 8%.  Not surprisingly, only 4-9% of all VC funding goes to female-lead companies. 

The power to change the status quo ultimately rests with the limited partners (LPs) who supply the cash for VC funds.  Venture capitalists have a vested interest in keeping their LPs happy.  Pension funds like CalPERS, universities with massive endowments (think: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Penn), investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, and powerful accredited investors who serve as LPs need to demand more inclusivity of women-lead startups and female VC partners. 

4. Create new women-lead venture firms, angel groups, incubators and accelerators

For reasons that probably deserve a whole separate study, fewer women then men with similar backgrounds in finance, engineering and/or operations find their into roles as financiers backing startup companies.  One potential strategy to address the apparent lack of opportunities for women in the investment world is to partner with women professionals to create new investment firms with a more inclusive set of values.  It's also important to actively encourage more women to fight for roles as professional investors after they have been proven to be successful in other fields. 

5. Encourage business schools to recruit and entice more female MBA candidates to participate in entrepreneurship programs, internships and competitions.  

Business school alumni need to demand that their alma maters integrate more female students into their entrepreneurship programs and electives.  "Want me to cut you a check?  First tell me what you’re doing to recruit and support female MBAs with an interest in starting a new business!"  If you have friends who have been to b-school, encourage them to connect with female entrepreneurs and help expand their network.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Growing Pains: How Creators Can Expand Their Comfort Zones to Evolve as Professionals

There’s something to be said for pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. 

For many artists, craftspeople and other creative professionals – let’s just call them creators – it can be incredibly daunting to launch, operate and/or grow a small business.  Even just the terms “business” and “businessperson” tend to carry a lot of ugly baggage.  While many creators are accustomed to regularly pushing the envelope of their own imaginations, a self-defeating attitude about the world of business can too easily obstruct their professional growth. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own comfort zones lately.  I have never considered myself very athletic.  All throughout school I was almost always the shortest kid in my class.  As a result, I went out of my to avoid playing sports –- I always saw myself as more of an artsy, creator type.  I did drama instead, wrote a satirical newsletter, played in a band –- pretty much anything and everything as long as a true physical challenge wasn’t involved.  When left to my own devices, I’m not really a big fan of physical pain, discomfort and, you know, sweating.  I’m also not so keen on trying new things that don’t feel immediately natural and intuitive. 

Extreme physical challenges are one of my fear-spheres, one the realms that lies beyond my immediate comfort zone.  I bring this up because last weekend I took part in a two-day, 130-mile bike ride.  While I’ve been a regular bike commuter for about four years, prior to my training for the MS Ride: Waves to Wine, the longest distance ride I had ever been on was about 33 miles, and that was pretty intense.  I really jumped into the deep-end with this one.  The first day alone, I rode nearly 80 miles, tackling over 4000 feet worth of elevation gain. 

Here's a diagram of some of my own fear-spheres.  The fear (of failure, discomfort, humiliation, etc.) that accompanies my perceived weaknesses serves to compress my comfort zone, rendering it unnecessarily limited in scope and depth.   

The Waves to Wine experience showed me that I’m actually stronger, both mentally and physically, than I gave myself credit for.  There were several stretches during the ride where I wanted to quit, or at least stop pedaling and walk my bike up during an uphill section.  But somehow I kept going.  In part because I had support from my wife and teammates, but even more so because I had an inner dialogue with myself that persuaded me that while the actual experience of discomfort is fleeting, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing past discomfort carries with you and energies you for a long time to come. I’m not saying that everyone should go out and buy a road bike or sign up to run a marathon –- it just so happens that for me, personally, that kind of extreme physical challenge was a major fear-sphere.   
Strategically pushing myself to tackle new challenges serves a dual purpose:  First, it enables me to incorporate a prior fear-sphere into my comfort zone, allowing my overall confidence to expand.  It also renders my other fear-spheres significantly less daunting and more manageable. 
Not unlike the instruction you would get from a sports coach, holistic business coaching helps to stretch you outside of your comfort zone, in order to build your confidence in realms that previously seemed foreign, confounding, or downright scary.  If you happen to be a creator who wants to launch or grow a small business of your own, I hope that you will consider working with Inclusiva Strategies. In the meantime, here are some basic steps to help you flex your fear-cannibalizing muscles:

1. Map out your Comfort Zone and brainstorm the Fear Spheres that lie beyond.  Sit down for 15-20 minutes and come up with a list of activities that make you feel completely at east.  This could be your craft, a favorite hobby, hanging out with friends, etc.  Then brainstorm the realms that freak you out or make you feel uncomfortable, self-defeating, or embarrassed.  For many this might include things like public speaking, talking about money, receiving negative feedback, etc.

2. Push yourself in ways seemingly unrelated to business or your craft.  Try a new sport, musical instrument, language or type or free reading.  But please, no underwater basket weaving.  Flexing seemingly disparate muscle groups will build your overall confidence and tolerance for the discomfort and resistance that naturally accompanies the process of professional growth.

3. Ask for support and offer it to others.  While comfort zones are highly personal and individualized, the process of expanding them almost always requires some form of external support.  Ask your friends, family and colleagues for support and encouragement as you take on a new challenge – chances are they will eager to help however they can.  Also consider  mentoring someone pursuing something that already lies within your comfort zone.    

4. Focus on the process, rather than the results.  There's an old cliche that entrepreneurship is all about embracing failure – failure is good, they say.  I think that’s a bit misleading.  Failure itself is definitely not good.  But being willing to fail in pursuit of true growth actually enables success.  Some fear-spheres will simply prove to be more intractable  than others, so the reward must come from the process of gradually chipping away at them, rather than some kind of instant gratification. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Invaluable Resources for Starting & Running a Small Business

When looking to start a new business, or develop an existing one, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information and advice out there.  So, for my first substantive LBBB post, I thought I’d share some invaluable resources that small business owners can use to help stay informed, aware and educated. 

#5 –

Politicians talk a lot about supporting entrepreneurship these days…without saying much about how they aim to do it.  Luckily, the federal government already provides some basic informational resources for creating and operating small businesses.  The trick is that it takes a bit of doing to sort through it all and find the information that actually applies to you.  Nevertheless, is a great starting point for any small business owner or entrepreneur.  In particular, the materials on how to create a business plan and marketing plan are fairly well done.  (In a future post, I’ll be sure to take some time to delve more into my favorite specific resources for business planning.)

#4 – The Wall Street Journal’s Small Business Section “Must-Reads”

Small business owners (in every industry) will benefit from staying informed about current market trends, news and strategies.  Even if you have less than zero interest in subscribing, The Wall Street Journal maintains a small online section targeted at startups and small businesses where it compiles each day’s “must-read” articles that should prove especially relevant.  I often hear that people feel they don’t have time or patience to actually read through a whole newspaper every morning, so this is a free, easy and efficient way to stay informed about the developments most likely to affect your enterprise.

#3 – INC., Entrepreneur and Fast Company (Online Entrepreneurship Magazines)

For those eager to read more about what’s going on in the entrepreneurial landscape, I recommend carving out some time each week to peruse the articles and blog entries offered up by entrepreneurship periodicals such as Inc., Entrepreneur and Fast Company (just to name a few of the more helpful ones).  Much like the SBA, INC.’s website in particular contains a wealth of tips and information on how to start and manage a business. 

Bear with me on this one.  I admit I was highly skeptical of personality tests when I first started business school, likening them to the contrived, self-fulfilling prophecies found in horoscopes (sorry, astrology fans).  I quickly realized, however, that personality tests like Myers-Briggs actually offered some meaningful insights into my work style, needs and habits.  This quiz is free and only takes a few minutes.  Once you know your type, you can search the web for more analysis and interpretations – check out Personality Page.  For any business owner with employees, I highly recommend asking your team to take the quiz as well so you can learn more about their orientation as professionals, and how their types interact with each other, as well as your own.  These insights can be incredibly helpful in team-building, dealing with motivation and productivity issues, and managing interpersonal conflicts.  

I’m cheating a bit here, because all the other entries in this list so far have been 100% free.  But for only $26 on Amazon ($19 for the Kindle version), this massively informative reference guide is one of the best investments you can make.  As the jacket describes, “small business owners are regularly confronted by a bewildering array of legal questions and problems” – so why not save yourself a ton of time, grief and needless legal fees by keeping this user-friendly overview close at hand?  This book was first recommended by one of my business school mentors, Dave Epstein, and has now become an essential resource for my clients.    

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Welcome to Inclusiva's Little Big Business Blog!

Meet Inclusiva and the LBBB

I’m proud to announce the launch of Inclusiva Strategies.  Inclusiva is a holistic business coaching practice aimed at creative small business owners and artists who want to transform their craft into a viable and meaningful enterprise. 

This is a new type of business coaching firm that helps creative business owners, artists and other aspiring entrepreneurs grow or launch their venture based on clearly defined values and goals.  Rather than limiting or diluting their craft, the structure and strategic planning that comes from the coaching process actually frees them to be more creative and innovative.

The Little Big Business Blog (LBBB) will be the primary sounding board for Inclusiva.  It will be a place I can share resources, insights, tips, news, and musings about the world of creative small businesses and startups.  
Why Business Coaching
My interest in business coaching started when I volunteered as a business advisor for a wonderful organizational in Oakland called Centro Community Partners, which provides business training to low-income entrepreneurs. Inclusiva, meanwhile, is designed to empower creative professionals like artists, cooks, musicians, designers, engineers and others with the tools they need to make the craft they love a rewarding business endeavor. 

I care deeply about and believe in this work.  It draws upon many of my strengths and allows me to apply my interdisciplinary education.  I believe Inclusiva will make a difference not only in the lives of my clients, their families and employees, but also more broadly, by helping to bring a wide variety of new products, services and jobs into the economy.  I hope it will serve as a model for a new type of business coaching that can be make an impact throughout the Bay Area and beyond. 

To learn more or to get in touch, please view the Inclusiva website here, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

-Jacob Gelfand