Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dan Coughlin, Founder of The Coughlin Company, located in Fenton, MO, USA.

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

My work is primarily as an Executive Coach for individuals and Group Coaching Programs for 10-20 people at a time on leadership and management. I have worked with executives at McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Thermo Fisher, Traffix, Anheuser-Busch, RE/MAX, and more than 200 other organizations.

Tell us about yourself

I was a college soccer coach and a high school math teacher from 1985-1997. Essentially, I am a teacher, advisor, and guide for individuals and groups. I left the academic world because I wanted to teach leadership and teamwork, and my principals wanted me to teach math and coach soccer. I would have stayed in the academic world if I had been allowed to work with students on ideas related to leadership, communication, teamwork, goal setting, and self-esteem, but that didn't work out. So I started my own business. I had never heard of executive coaching when an executive at McDonald's asked me to be his executive coach. That was a defining moment in my life. That was a perfect match for me. And since August of 1997, I've now worked with more than 300 executives and have provided more than 5,000 executive coaching sessions. What motivates me today is what has motivated me since I was a college senior in 1985. I wrote back then in my journal that the purpose of my career was going to be to help other people achieve whatever they wanted to achieve. That is still my driving force.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I helped one company grow from $70 Million in revenue to $1.2 Billion in revenue in a period of 5 1/2 years. That was tremendously exciting. There have been many other moments of real business improvement, but that was the most dramatic. And there have been many, many individual leaps of progress for individuals that don't get anywhere near the recognition that they deserve. I love seeing people achieve what they want to achieve.

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

Finding new customers. The work I do is essentially listening, observing, asking questions, and offering suggestions. That's what I do best. And I love creating content and teaching it. The real work is marketing and building a brand, and attracting new customers. That's a constant challenge for all business owners.

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

First, be true to yourself. Don't ever try to be someone else. Second, to quote one of my favorite mentors, Seth Godin, focus on providing a minimally viable product or service for a minimally viable audience. You don't have to be Amazon or Apple, or Google on day one. Just create value, deliver value, and charge for the value you deliver to a few customers. Now you're in the game. You may even need to give away value for free for a long time to get there, but the day you sell something for a fee, you are an entrepreneur. And just grow from there.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Don't take yourself too seriously. And don't work yourself to death. Just take one focused, intentional step at a time and steadily grow your brand and your business.

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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