Small business advice personalized for those who are new to business
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed on the No Mercy Business Podcast with Emily A Woodruff. I was able to share with Emily and her listeners more about myself, my experience, and my role as a business coach. Now I'm sharing the content of that interview here for my loyal blog readers. Here is the transcript from the interview!
Editorial note: the transcript has been edited for readability and storytelling
Emily A Woodruff: Welcome to the No Mercy Business podcast with Emily A Woodruff, the podcast that walks you through managing your own small business through the highs and the lows. We'll talk with small business owners from all over the U.S. and share insights on how to help manage your business without the extra fluff and connect with other women.
Just like you let's dive in everyone for joining me for another episode of the No Mercy Business podcast. This is your host, Emily A Woodruff I have today with me, Christine Sandberg. Why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself to our listeners?
Christine Sandberg: Hi listeners. As Emily said, my name is Christine Sandberg. I am a small business coach and I'm located in St. Paul, Minnesota. And I've been business coaching since 2018 and last year, I went full time with it after I sold my clothing boutique and I help women specifically start small businesses and turn their passion into a profit.
Emily A Woodruff: That's awesome. So I'm super excited to dig into that a little bit more since I'm kind of going down the business coaching route too. Um, so I'm interested to hear how you'll respond to some of these. So how did you get involved with coaching? Um, you said that you, you turned over your boutique. How did that come out of, or were they related?
How did you get involved with coaching?
Yeah, so I got started through writing actually. I've always liked writing. I was an English major in college, so I started a blog to kind of share some of the learnings that I was experiencing while I was starting my own business. And so I started a blog and that was entirely business advice focused and that's all it kind of was: just a blog.
But then in 2018, I went to the Business Boutique women's business conference in Nashville, Tennessee. And I really loved the conference and I felt something come alive inside of me. I was like "this is so cool! This is what I wanna do!" I want to inspire women to start their own businesses and encourage them that they can do it.
So I took that seed of an idea and started testing it out. And so I got a handful of women to beta test with me and I just tried it to just see. "Hey, is this helpful to you?" And does this come naturally to me? Is it difficult? Is it hard? Does it drain me? Does it excite me? Yeah, it passed all of those check marks. So the first year I started coaching, I started at a very low introductory rate, just to kind of get my foot in the door and to build up a client base and gain experience. Side note, this hasn't been the only mentoring I've done. I've actually been mentoring women individually, one on one for over 10 years. So in some ways it was just combining these two loves of mine. Two things that I love are mentoring and teaching women and business. So that's how I got started.
Who is your ideal client?
Emily A Woodruff: That's great. So that kind of explains how you found your ideal client and your client base that you work with. Is women in business who are looking to expand their marketing or expand their businesses? Is that what you would say?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah, definitely that. I say year one to five is where I usually land with my clients or clients who are doing a new business. Sometimes they already have many years of experience in business. I've worked with some clients who have had like 20 years of experience in business, but they wanna try something new and they feel like they're stuck and they just want some help, specifically with marketing and strategy and some of the newer aspects of online business, like marketing funnels and social media; and those kind of things that weren't around 20 years ago.
Emily A Woodruff: Sure. That makes sense. Walk me through how you would find or connect with your ideal client. Where do you succeed the most with that?
Where do you find your clients?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah, I found the most success with finding clients through Facebook groups that I actively participate in. Not my own group, yet. That's a work in progress. I've also had some clients reach out to me through word of mouth and through Instagram.
Emily A Woodruff: Awesome. I think we all face the same struggle with our groups. For some reason, it seems like they just don't necessarily gain the traction that we hope for. But it's great that you get it somewhere else.
Christine Sandberg: I tell people and I tell my clients, honestly, that sometimes I feel like the plumber with the leaky pipes at home. I can tell you what you need to do to succeed on Instagram and Facebook groups and how to put yourself out there and what to focus on and how to respond to comments, et cetera, et cetera. But then when it comes to me actually doing. I struggle sometimes.
Emily A Woodruff: I think that's very common for our line of work. So don't let that discourage you.
How do you juggle all of your responsibilities, while still maintaining your successful business and your home life and everything else you've got going on?
How do you balance it all?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah, I'll be honest. I work on business coaching Full time, Part-time. Okay so, I'm fully committed to it, but I work part-time on it. And then the other hours in my week, I have an Etsy shop that I devote some time to. And I also just enjoy the life balance of taking care of my home and family and gardening and doing those sorts of things. So I'm not someone who's putting out an image where I'm working 60-80 hours a week and bringing in a huge hustle. That's not one of my life values, so that's not something I do.
Emily A Woodruff: Mm-hmm , that's neat. That's great. What do you specialize in for your Etsy shop? Just for curiosity's sake.
What do you do on Etsy?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah. I have a Etsy shop that sells homemade hermit crab food.
Emily A Woodruff: That is so random, but so great. I'm sure you have a real niche client base there. Huh?
Christine Sandberg: I do. I have been in the hermit crab community almost 10 years now and have had my own pet hermit crabs for many years and have thought for a while of opening up the shop. And I love opening new businesses, I'm addicted to starting new businesses.
So I don't make a ton of money with the hermit crab Etsy shop, but I enjoy it and it allows me to experiment and become more familiar with the Etsy platform, which helps a lot of my clients because Etsy is a great way to start a small business.
Emily A Woodruff: That's neat. Who's someone that's in your market that you would suggest others in your field follow?
Who's someone in your field that you would suggest others to follow?
Christine Sandberg: That's a great question. So I have three recommendations. And these are all Instagram experts, I know Instagram is a real struggle for a lot of my clients, so that's why I mention it. It's super important to get reliable, solid information, not hacks and click bait, like fluff that doesn't produce fruit. Instagram hacks are not actually beneficial in the long run. So I like these accounts because they cut through the noise. So three of these Instagram accounts, I would highly recommend if you are looking to grow on Instagram are the first one is @creators. This is an official Instagram account and they share kind of the best of Instagram on there. And they'll share some tips for growing an audience, monetization, and other things like that. And then the other one is @mosseri and he is the head of Instagram. And when an Instagram change happens, where a lot of people will like run around with a chicken with their head cut off and be like, "the sky is falling!" he'll just like break it down for you in a really calm and easy to understand way. He'll say things like "Hey, we're not doing this, but we are looking to do this. And here's why." So that's an enjoyable account to follow. And then the last one is Brock Johnson. He's an Instagram coach and he shares a ton of free information on his Instagram account. That's really helpful. So his Instagram is @Brock11Johnson.
Emily A Woodruff: That's awesome. That's great. I never thought to follow the head of Instagram, but that totally makes sense, seems like they would be able to mitigate some issues, you know?
So what's something important for a new client to ask when they're searching for a business coach? Or what's something that you encounter a lot or something that you kind of look for when a new client reaches out to you?
What's something important for a new client to ask when they're searching for a business coach?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah. So I ask clients what they hope to get out of business coaching, and I want potential clients to be explicit as possible. Like, tell me exactly what you're looking for so that I can be honest with you and tell you if I'm the right coach or not for you. I think when you're searching for a business coach, you should get a straight answer from whoever you're potentially looking to hire. If they don't answer your questions, that's a red flag.
If they bring you onto a discovery call or bring you onto a call, but then won't answer your questions, that's a red flag. I would say for anyone looking for a coach, you need an honest answer. Honest also means explicit on both the "What are they going to provide for you?" and "What are they gonna help you with?"
And you can ask them if they've had previous experience, helping clients with that issue. I also think it's super important for coaches to be transparent in their pricing and to tell you how long they think it will take to get those results and how much that will cost you. Because it's one thing to say, "Oh, here's my per coaching call fee or here's my monthly fee", but not giving you the full picture. If you're thinking this will will be solved in three months, but the business coach knows this is more of a 13 month program, there's some honesty issues there. I just really appreciate as an individual integrity and honesty in the people I work with. So that's something that I always give potential clients in that first call.
Um, and something that I would say, you know, to look for.
Emily A Woodruff: That's great. Is there anything additional or anything extra that you would want our listeners to know about you or your businesses?
Christine Sandberg: Yeah, as I mentioned, I'm a serial entrepreneur myself. Yeah. I've tried a lot of different things. I've had an online retail shop, I've done Etsy, I've done reselling; I've had service businesses and product based businesses. And, so I feel like it's important for potential clients to know what experience that business coach has.
And it's interesting I've had clients come to me who have a degree in business, but need help starting their business. I don't have a degree in business. And I think that's cool. And maybe a little ironic. Ha! My expertise is not onboarding. It's not growing a C-suite. It's not corporation levels of business because that's not what I've done. I've done startup DIY. Do it yourself. Scrappy, pull everything together. And as I tell my clients, like, let me help you get the ball rolling so that you can have knowledge of all these different hats that we wear in business. And then get you to a point where you can proof your concept of like, "Hey, this is gonna work!" Now you can start to hire out help for these different avenues that you're not successful in. You can know exactly like what you're looking for when you make that hire. So that's the earliest stage of business that I'm talking about that I help with is that you have an idea or you've tried an idea and it stalled out. Let's get you rolling. Let's proof your concept up until the point of all right now you're rocking and rolling and now can hire a social media expert, a team lead, or a HR department, those types of things. And then I kind of sign off. I'm like, all right, we did the thing. I've gotten you to the next steps. Now you continue on. And that's where more of my accountability partner role as a coach comes in.
Emily A Woodruff: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. It was great to talk to you today.
Hey! My name is Christine and I'm an entrepreneur and small business coach. I've learned most of what I know through trial and error. I help women who are new to business to take their next steps with confidence and clarity.
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