BR MicroCapital
2011–2012

Favorite part: Learning a few months after my coaching engagement had ended that my client’s new website, which was developed while I was serving as coach, had nearly doubled their online sales.

Hardest part: Building the trust necessary to discuss strategic changes with someone that has run this business for over 30 years.

BR MicroCapital was a student run coaching and financing organization for low-income entrepreneurs. We worked with owners of established businesses, and provided goal-based coaching support. Affordable loans were also available to clients who did not have access to traditional financing. As an entrepreneur coach, I met with my client, who produced paper products decorated with the work of local artists, every other week to advise on the most efficient way to approach current problems. At the time, my client was developing an integrated marketing program, building up a social media presence, and launching a new website.

Immersing myself in my client’s business and challenges taught me the importance of relationships at any level of business. Every recommended action meant reaching out to a person, not a business or a service. Particularly in Ithaca’s small community, where there were frequently only a handful of professionals that could help. I soon learned the importance of building relationships with every person contacted, as we would likely need to speak to them again. In an objective business school world, creating a new website means hiring the best web design agency you can afford. In my client’s reality, it was more important to find a design firm that they trusted and liked to work with. Once again, cultural fit trumped efficiency.

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