Real Small Biz Talk is a new ongoing blog series where I have quick chats with some wonderfully courageous and inspiring Small Business Owners. People who are prepared to be real, daring and vulnerable and share their journey with us all so that we can all learn together.
In this interview, I have the honour of bringing to you Larrie Winzar of Follow Your Bliss. Larrie has been working in her own businesses for over 25 years and for the last 16 years has been operating Follow Your Bliss, a Career and Life Coaching Consultancy. A pioneer in her industry (Life Coaching wasn’t “a thing” back in 2000), Larrie has a wealth of experience not only in business but in helping others find their own work or business bliss! Warning: There are a lot of brilliant nuggets of advice in this interview so you might want to read more than once!!
What made you decide to take the leap into starting your own business?
“Follow Your Bliss” wasn’t my first business. Prior to “Follow Your Bliss”, I was in partnership in a Recruitment Consultancy (10 years) and a Recycled Homewares Gallery (1 year). I had also converted my personally designed home into a creative Bed & Breakfast business (1 year). All were very successful. Because the Recycled Homewares Gallery was running concurrently with the Recruitment Consultancy, I didn’t have enough time to do both and it needed my creative input. Similarly, with the B & B, it was so successful but because I was running “Follow Your Bliss” to capacity, the B & B took too much time and the coaching was more in line with my values.”
“All businesses were an intuitive decision. For instance, with the Recruitment Consultancy, I was working in the business and one day said to the owner that if she was ever wanting to sell the business to let me know. Her reply was that I wouldn’t be able to afford it! Red rag to a bull! Within 2 days, she came back with a price, I sourced a partner and an Accountant and the rest is history.”
“As for “Follow Your Bliss” I decided to create it because many clients through my experience as a Recruitment Consultant were saying that they wanted to know what they really wanted to do. They didn’t want “just a job”. I saw a niche, that didn’t exist. There was only career counselling in schools and nothing for adults. It was a no brainer when the idea came. I was providing career coaching for adults who didn’t know what they wanted to do when they grew up even though they were in their 20’s through to their 60’s. I love it just as much now as I did the day I began.”
What was the Biggest Challenge when you First Started?
“As I had no other financial support at that time, the biggest challenge was to ensure my idea was viable. I determined how many clients I would need to see to cover my mortgage and living expenses, considered that viable and, because I was passionate about the idea, I didn’t see anything else as a challenge. It is worth noting that because of my confidence and personality, I was well known and respected in our city of 120,000.”
How did you get your First Customers?
“This was 16 years ago, in 2000. At that time advertising in the local paper was quite a usual approach! My first advertisement resulted in 7 new clients and I was “away”. I had to make this work. I had no intention of ever working for anyone ever again. I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. My last “job” finished in 1990. I created a website at the very beginning and always included the website address in my advertising. If I was starting now, I would create the website and Facebook presence and also use my professional networks from business and community.”
What have you found to be the most effective way to Promote your Business?
“Satisfied clients are by far the best way to promote my style of business. Referrals come easily then. I also wrote for the local newspaper and a business magazine on work related topics. I didn’t get paid for this but it gave me great exposure. If I was starting now, I would write a blog.”
What has changed most since you Started Follow your Bliss in 2000?
“Social media and technology generally has been the biggest change. However, with that change, it has been interesting that more and more people are welcoming the personal conversations that coaching is. Because people don’t connect personally as much as they did in 2000, when they come to a coach who is deeply listening to them, they love the experience. When I started in this business, I had no peers and there were no books or articles so I simply did it my way and it worked. However, now it is a recognised profession with the necessary qualifications. I have done those qualifications and my bookcase is filled with books about careers and life coaching that simply didn’t exist when I started. There’s still one book missing though and that is the one I am writing!!”
“The other changes have been changes to the economy. There seem to be more frequent ups and downs now. However, Career and Life Coaching are quite “recession” proof because in good times, people are more fluid and more confident to make changes. In down times, businesses engage coaches to assist with career transitioning for staff who have lost their jobs. I intuitively worked that out before I started.”
If you could offer advice to someone just starting on their Business Journey, what would it be?
“My advice would be to make sure you are not just buying yourself a job! Only work on a business that aligns with your experience, values and passions. Too many people start a business because they can’t get a job. Wrong reason. Others think they are good at their trade so they will start a business. Wrong reason. Owning your own business takes commitment and drive. You live it. Wrongly, many say it would be great to own your own business because you can work when you like. Wrong again. Deliver more than you promise. Be passionate, be authentic. Keep your focus on your business, not on your competition. Think about your point of difference and work on that.”
As a Life Coach, what piece of advice would you give someone who knows they want a change but don’t know where to begin?
“I would suggest they contact me!! Seriously, I would suggest they see a reputable career coach who will be objective. Like all professions, it is important that you have a good rapport with your coach so ask other people for referrals. Also, check on their experience and qualifications. Career Coaching has been around long enough for thousands of people to have worked with them. It should be relatively easy to find the perfect one to work with. I’ve worked with thousands of people and 95% of my work comes from personal referrals. I also coach by phone and email as well as in person. The reason for consulting a coach is that most people are influenced by those around us who have a vested interest in what we do in terms of money, time, being away, perhaps a higher profile. Yes, there’s a time to talk with those important people in your life but getting clear about what you need and want to talk about is a first great step.”
About Follow Your Bliss
“Follow Your Bliss” is a Career and Life Coaching Consultancy working with individuals and groups through one on one coaching and workshops to inspire, empower and encourage them to live the life they really want to live. Particularly in their working life but also with their creativity, within their community, at home and in retirement.
To Learn more visit: www.followyourbliss.com.au
Or to connect with Larrie on Facebook.