Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah Graves, CRO of inviteCHANGE, located in Freeland, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a weaver of worlds, a channel for new perspectives and truths to emerge, and a catalyst for propelling clients to live their dreams now! I help enterprises unlock workforce potential through Professional Development, Adult Learning, and Generative Individual & Team Coaching.
Many people live life from the outside, deciding how they will show up based on circumstances. Many of the leaders I coach already have a good experience themselves. Yet, they know there is more, and they want a space to explore their imagination, the places where they're currently blocked or they've plateaued. They desire to move beyond their limitations and lead with connection to their core values and purpose. They are open and ready to invest the time, commit themselves to deeper learning, and live their greatest expression. They want to make a positive difference in other people's lives and are ready to roll up their sleeves and commit to the changes the journey may require. I also have had clients who have been fired or demoted after soaring for years—they want to uncover what they're missing about themselves and grow their self-awareness. They are willing to do the inner work and identify their areas for a workout, strengthening, and toning. They want to earn their owner's and team's trust through inviting change, starting with themselves. I believe everyone is always in transition, whether you're moving to a new home or a new country, getting a promotion, changing jobs, shifting from virtual to returning to the office, divorce, having children, work/life harmony, being assigned a new employee, joining an additional cross-functional team, the company gets purchased, children are grown and gone, and the list is endless.
How do you deal with transition and change? Are you resisting it or inviting it? The joy of working with a coach is that you now have a thought partner in your growth, development, and evolution. As a coach, I am a cheerleader, challenger, and collaborator on the client's behalf. I've watched clients move into promotions in half the time expected due to their coaching partnership, start their own businesses, take a lackluster, apathetic team and bring new energy and leadership to create one that exceeds goals and has fun and satisfaction doing it. Win Employee of the Year, move across the country, overcome obstacles and along with the path experience and learn to appreciate and call forth the very best in themselves.
Tell us about yourself
I had a fabulous 30+ year career in hospitality and wine along the West Coast. I engaged a coach for many of those years. Each coach was the right fit for me. I navigated two career changes (from restaurants to wine to coaching), geographic moves (San Francisco to Portland), a recession or two, and leading effectively in a male-dominated industry, one with unique challenges. My shift from wine distribution executive to Full-Time ICF Coach wasn't planned exactly. My dream was to be an internal coach and start a cohort inside the distributor organization. The timing was off - I was too soon. But I could not wait for the world to change and felt staying was no longer congruent with my passions.
The spirits that had my attention were human spirits now. I took the leap and departed a dream job of travel, wine, geology, world cuisines, and team building. I moved to another adventure - a world of people's goals and dreams, breakdowns and breakthroughs, desires for healthier and happier lives, and much more. My personal coaching practice I called Segue Coaching & Consulting. My vision for transitions was to be seamless, thus segue. All the moves I made in my life possessed fear and excitement, courage, awkward moments, tough conversations, honest reflections, and even tears. Yet on the other side, euphoria and appreciation for the journey made all the adversity morph into an appreciation for the character and the strengths built through the process. It is seamless once you've crossed the threshold and created the desired change. The variety of people and what they want to create and experience is a panoply of potential. It is inspiring, invigorating, and immensely satisfying to support someone who is breaking through into new experiences of themselves. Every day I learn about coaching, life, and myself. When a client gets a promotion, has the CEO tell them they "hit a grand slam," experiences their creativity in ways they had only fantasized about, masters public speaking, and inspires other people I'll never meet to take action in the company, in social justice, in a climate emergency, my impact is felt, and it's real. I am making a positive difference every day, which has a ripple effect throughout the world.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To thrive during COVID was humbling and gratifying. During the 2009-10 recession, the coaching profession was hit hard, and watching how different this round of crisis was brought hope and new possibilities. People were drawn to coaching, accessing their own ways of practicing gratitude, finding the silver lining, being compassionate, and staying stronger than they imagined. Being part of this through pro bono coaching, staying strong, and persevering to find the paying clients to keep us going was very satisfying and affirming.
We also launched our BE.CHOOSE.CAUSE. Global Leaders Conference virtually reached new audiences and created awareness and actionable change for human trafficking, climate emergency, and communities challenged with mental health, over-incarceration, DEIB, and houselessness. Bringing people together from all over the world who cared about making a change was life-changing!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The exposure. Being an entrepreneur is a complex and uncertain journey, and yet…I wish I'd done it sooner. Knowing I'm in charge of my success is both daunting and daring - it is vitality and freedom. There's also the deep care I have for any support team. I want to make sure payroll is not looming as a maybe, but rather creating sustainability and confidence in the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your WHY - why are you here doing this now, and for whom. Live it. Remind yourself through visuals, songs, quotes…rinse and repeat. Touch into your deepest self no matter your business—why are you passionate about what you're doing?.
- ABN – always be networking and not from a sales perspective, rather an unbridled love and curiosity with people - what makes them alive and who are the people I know in my network where a connection could benefit both. Give information freely. That is truly a favorite moment that has happened thousands of times in my life, and it still feels GREAT! Know from the start that it will take more effort to materialize your idea/vision. Human ideas are from the metaphysical, and making them real moves us to a different dimension that requires patience, determination, perseverance, and dedication.
- Have a great support network in all realms, and honestly communicate with your mate, family, and friends. If you had a food cart, you'd tell everyone to come by and bring their friends and dates. Same with coaching - what if everyone could have a coach, just like air, food, and water?
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
As a fourth-generation Oregonian, I am privileged to work with leaders of industries here in the Northwest, from wine to fruit to healthcare and tech. The quality of leadership and investment in their teams' personal and professional development has grown tremendously in the last decade. It has been incredible to be a part of it.
I look forward to the coming years as we advocate for increased psychological safety in the workplace, beginning with inclusion. Let's keep loving our life's work – inviting change.
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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