St. GeorgeElli St.George Godfrey of Ability Success Growth in the Greater Boston Area, is a co-writer of mine on the business blogging platform Tweak Your Biz. All involved are also a great community and I regularly enjoy interacting with Elli online and reading her great blogs too. Elli also hosts the weekly #Kaizenbiz, a global chat on Twitter which is brilliant for business discussion and networking. So I decided to find out more about Elli and her life before coaching, how she helps businesses and at what stage in their development plus her thoughts on Social Media.

Tell me your background story and how did you get into the business of Coaching?

I have had a dream of owning a business since I was a teenager. Initially, I chose a career as a psychotherapist. Since the mental health industry was changing, I found I was fascinated with the business side of psychotherapy. In addition to trends toward using evaluations of clients’ progress, I also learned about billing practices and other administrative details that laid the groundwork for me to found my coaching business. I also supervised other clinicians which I enjoyed greatly.

When I had reached my ten year mark in clinical work, I realized it was time for me to move on. This coincided with my discovery of coaching which turned out to fit me to a T. Since coaching is different from therapy, it was essential that I took my training at the Coaches Training Institute. The serendipity kept flowing and I attracted small business owners who were leading their business through a growth stage and finding that they needed to adapt to a new role with different behaviors and expectations.

Your coaching business sounds very intriguing, and dare I say it, more interesting than most. Tell me why you decided to set up Ability Success Growth and what do you feel makes you different from the rest?

I founded Ability Success Growth, named for my 3 Keys Coaching process, to help small business owners manage the emotional life behind creating a more successful business. Many small business coaches focus primarily on the operations or sales aspects. And that is important work but, time and time again, I have observed how the intangibles of decision-making, planning, communicating and stress management can help or hurt how a business functions and grows.

Although I certainly attend to the nitty-gritty of how the business works, my focus is on guiding established small business owners to manage change, communicate more effectively and use a global mindset – the CEO mindset – to lead and manage a thriving business. Combining a background in psychology and a measurement-oriented system, my 3 Keys Coaching process supports the small business owner to enhance their strategic planning, goal setting, leadership plus managing stress and feelings of overwhelm that can derail a company as it grows.

What types of businesses or people would you normally deal with?

My niche is established small business owners. So my typical client is a business owner who has been in business for more than 5 years and is adapting to CEO-like role while leading his/her company through a growth phase.

Would you have a main “generic” piece of advice for businesses that are starting up?

A good tip for both start-ups and established businesses is to have a “living business plan.” This is an internal document that contains your mission and vision statements, the marketing plan, financials and goals (measurable and realistic actions steps) so you stay focused on what you truly want to accomplish for your fiscal year.

What do you consider are the key factors to succeed on Social Media?

  • Listen and learn from your customers so you speak their “language.” It is very easy to get into industrial jargon but if you cannot put it into plain words, you will not capture their attention easily.
  • Know where they spend their time. Your customers have preferred sites where they go for information.
  • Be yourself. When you are starting out or even going through your first growth stage, there is a temptation to seem like you are “more” business-like or professional. Certainly be appropriate and act with authenticity and integrity.

You host #Kaizenbiz on Twitter every Friday and get a worldwide business chat going – tell me what gave you the idea for this and how it works?

I am so excited that we have reached our third anniversary! I have to thank Valeria Maltoni for passing the baton to me about two years ago and Caroline Di Diego for encouraging me to take it. Valeria founded the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog which I participated in. It always intrigued me because the chat would focus on ideas, not just how-to. I joined the chat as co-host and gradually it became my own. The name of the chat only changed in January 2012 but the format did not. Conversation is at the heart of opening our minds to other perspectives while connecting with others.

During the chat, we apply critical thinking to business ideas, enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. Each week is a new topic and there is a framing post that introduces the topic with the discussion questions on our website at www.kaizenbiz.com. We often have guests from various disciplines visit and share their expertise. Chat participants join the chat every Friday at 12pm ET and we use the hashtag, #KaizenBiz, during our hour-long conversation. Anyone with an interest in business is welcome to join the conversation and become part of our community. People who are interested in learning more about the topics or finding other interesting ideas can follow @KaizenBizChat on Twitter.

What is on the horizon for Ability Success Growth in the near future?

There some exciting things happening for Ability Success Growth. Starting this fall, I am offering the Small Business Emerging Leaders program that focuses on the top 5 areas that business owners need to handle as they become more CEO-like in their company. These areas are identifying an individual’s leadership style, when to hire staff, strategic planning, delegation and evaluating the progress of the small business. The great thing with this online program is that people can sign up for either the whole program or just the sessions that fit their needs.

My other new initiative is a collaboration with my colleague, Olwen Dawe, of Irish Business Intelligence, to offer virtual programs tailored to small business owners in Ireland. Given my deep connections in Ireland and my mission to guide small business owners to become effective CEOs of their small business, it is a joy to be able to work both here in the US and in Ireland.

Thank you so much to Elli St.George Godfrey for this interview. I’m sure Elli will be happy to answer any questions you have in the comments section below.