Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Garland Vance, Co-Founder of AdVance Leadership, located in Knoxville, TN, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is AdVance Leadership. 51% of employees quit their job because of their boss. We develop the leaders your company needs to succeed, and your employees want to work for.

Most Senior Leaders (typically CEOs or HR leaders) know they need to develop more and better leaders, but they don't have the time to develop all those programs. We work with those leaders to create practical leadership development programs that build their leadership pipeline fast.

Tell us about yourself

My wife, Dorothy, and I started the company in 2017. We spend 15 years in leadership development with Chick-fil-A on their nonprofit side. I completed my doctorate in leadership in 2016.

Later that year, I became a Leadership Development Pastor of a church of 9,000 in Houston. The church members kept telling me they were overwhelmed with leadership responsibilities at work. We started advising and coaching them on practical ways to build better relationships and get better results.

We believe that when one leader gets better, it makes everyone around them better. So in 2017, while still working for the church, we started AdVance Leadership.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We released our first book in 2019: Gettin' (un)Busy: 5 Steps to Kill Busyness and Live with Purpose, Productivity, and Peace. It's a practical guide to help leaders develop more capacity at work and home by eliminating excessive commitments.

Gettin' (un)Busy was named by Forbes as "one of the books everyone on your team should read" and won the Author Elite Award for "Best Business Book of 2020."

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

At AdVance Leadership, we have three attributes that make us distinct from other leadership development companies:

  1. Ridiculous practicality. We turn leadership "theory" into practical tools that leaders can utilize.
  2. Process-driven for results. Leadership development happens over time. We help companies develop processes that get them the results they want.
  3. Transformation through relationships. You don't develop better leaders merely through content. Leaders develop other leaders by building relationships.

The hardest part of being a business owner right now is the tension between scaling and having a commitment to great relationships. We are committed to both. So it takes some creativity to develop a company that can do both.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Spend as much time as you can getting to know your customers. Don't just build an "ideal customer profile." Talk to them. Listen to their problems in both work and their personal lives.

And consistently add value to their lives. Suggest books they should read. Introduce them to others who could help them. The more value you give, the more they'll think they can't succeed without you helping them.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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