Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gary Cohen, Managing Partner of CO2 Partners, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.

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

CO2 Partners is an experienced leadership and organizational transformation company that has been helping CEOs, entrepreneurs, and executives elevate their own brand of leadership since 2004— better equipping them to lead themselves, their teams, their organizations, and the world.

Our customers are those leaders who play to win. As a highly socialized person, winning for them can vary from how they are perceived by others they respect, how much money they make or how they climb the career ladder. They also care about how they make meaning in the world and how this meaning-making serves as a tool to interact with others.

Tell us about yourself

When I was writing the book Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions, published by McGraw Hill, 2009, three people independently sought me out to coach them, and I said I would have lunch with them, but they insisted on paying me. It was then I realized that I really like the work and helping people through struggles that either I had already experienced or could help them problem-solve. And that's when I decided to enter coaching.

What motivates me each day is really more of the same feeling so grateful that others would allow me into such private and personal parts of their growth and development journies to support them towards whatever their vision of the future is.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Continually being rewarded by referrals from current and past customers, knowing that they are willing to put their reputation on the line on my behalf to support a friend or a colleague of theirs. And from that, seeing how our business continues to grow.

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

I would say it's covering all the details, except my EA does all of that, so it's no longer hard for me. And she rocks!!

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

  1. Without sales, there is no business. (Find your route to market)
  2. Know that cash is essential and monitor it daily.
  3. Have a strategic plan.
  4. Work on the plan.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The simplest way I have found to build accountability, which is essential as the organization grows, is by not providing approval or agreement to somebody else's area of responsibility. I find this is one of the single greatest struggles for new leaders and managers to learn.

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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