* * *
"I find the column inspiring and helpful to me in running my own small business."
"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
"The Small Business Professor is a site that should be bookmarked by every entrepreneur. In today's business environment, it is difficult to gather information and obtain answers to the myriad of questions that face business owners. Bruce Freeman's 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column is an excellent resource that provides guidance, up-to-the-minute information, mentoring, and more."
"I've been working with patients for almost 10 years as a Chiropractic Physician. I'm always looking for new ways to increase awareness of the valuable clinical services provided at my centers. Bruce Freeman has given me insightful ideas to assist in my marketing efforts. I rely on his 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column to keep me abreast of new trends and developments in the field. I couldn't ask for a more knowledgeable and capable advisor as my companies move forward into providing nationwide healthcare for patients."
"Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor, is a most valued and enthusiastic guest contributor to the business segment of our radio show dealing with the challenges facing today's entrepreneurs. His practical and insightful advice has served to enhance our ability, as broadcasters, to help business owners move ahead in their various fields of endeavor. ....Thank you, Bruce."
Cultivating Strategic Alliances Gives Stress-Free Birth to Successful Business
Sheri Menelli of Carlsbad, CA was miserable at a “stressful” IT job for years before she eventually reached her breaking point. She knew she needed to “de-stress” and find a career filled with enjoyment and personal satisfaction so she left a good-paying, well-established career for the unknown. Several months into her hiatus, Sheri, still stressed and not happy, asked a friend for advice. Her friend recommended seeing a hypnotherapist since this type of treatment worked for her. Sheri decided to give it a try and was amazed with the results. Sheri then realized that she was feeling more in control, was less stressed and was fascinated by how the human mind works. She quickly enrolled in hypnotherapy classes and within a year Sheri was certified as a hypnotherapist.
A few weeks after graduation, Sheri met a former co-worker whose wife, an OB/GYN, was looking for someone to teach her patients hypnobirthing techniques to help deal with the strains of pregnancy and childbirth. Since Sheri had not yet given birth herself, could she really help these women? Conventional wisdom would say NO! But, Sheri faced this obstacle head on. She knew from her training that the mind responds to stress -whether from a job loss, facing dental phobias or from childbirth – in similar ways. This helped Sheri focus and she decided to specialize in pregnancy and post-partum issues. She may not have experienced the same pain as mothers who gave birth, however, pain is pain and Sheri was confident that hypnotherapy could help thousands of women reduce the pain of the sacred milestone of giving birth to a child. Her new career was “born.”
Since a local physician was already referring patients to her, Sheri believed she did not have to work hard to get new patients. She eventually realized she couldn’t be more wrong! Her business was not growing the way she envisioned. Many patients did not heed the OB’s advice and call Sheri to investigate hypnobirthing. Sheri decided to try what many new entrepreneurs test – Advertising, which is typically expensive, with little guaranteed return. Sheri became frustrated when advertising commitment did not bring her any new clients.
Sheri’s business success shifted dramatically when she had a revelation. “I needed to talk to everyone who ‘touched’ a pregnant woman, even my competition. She decided to personally meet every midwife, doula, pregnancy masseuse, OB/GYN, chiropractor and childbirth educator she could find in her local community and throughout the county in which she lived. From Lamaze experts to LaLeche counselors, she met them all. Sheri realized these professionals knew potential clients who could use her services. Even other hypnobirthing educators, who sometimes couldn’t find time in their schedules to service all of their current clients, helped Sheri expand her new business. They referred many patients to Sheri’s practice. Imagine that: referrals from your direct competition!
Sheri didn’t stop there. Thinking “out of the box,” Sheri cultivated strategic alliances with other professionals - acupuncture therapists and hairdressers, among others, who could help her spread the news that hypnobirthing could empower women to have the best birth they could have, with the least amount of pain and stress. Most important, Sheri was the woman to call if they were interested: instant third-party endorsements! Pretty soon, the networking paid off. One client shared with Sheri that four people recommended her. Sheri had to expand her practice and offer more classes. They immediately filled to capacity.
Sheri’s “stress-free” business of teaching mothers-to-be how to de-stress was flourishing thanks to forming strategic alliances with parallel caregivers as well as competitors. New business owners know the term networking, but how many new entrepreneurs truly do the actual legwork required. Sheri did.In addition to a thriving business, Sheri has a successful website that features testimonials and photos from her very pleased clients. The website, which also provides easy-to-digest, educational information about hypnosis and hypnobirthing, receives many hits each day. Sheri’s wheels have not stopped turning. Her new book is currently being “conceived.” It will feature successful, stress-reducing childbirth techniques and a collection of personal childbirth testimonials.
The Small Business Professors' Words of Wisdom
Sheri’s entrepreneurial success was a result of several good business strategies: motivating oneself to try something new, obtaining the appropriate education, identifying the special needs of your client base and being creative when forming strategic alliances to build your business.While other hypnotherapists struggled with their practices, Sheri found a successful niche for herself and avoided defining too large a market for her new business. She took the stress she once felt and turned it into a career she is enjoying.
- Case History: Sheri Menelli
- Entrepreneur’s Strategy: Develop and cultivate strategic alliances to jumpstart your business.
- Could This Work For Me? Although many people may tell you “its not what you know, its who you know” successful entrepreneurs believe and practice “It is what I know and who I know.” While you are contacting who you know, ask them who they know who may need your services. Test your business strategy on a short term basis and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
New business owners know the term networking, but how many new entrepreneurs truly do the actual legwork required.