Today we’re interviewing Terri Holley of SuccessWithFortitude.com. Terri has been in business for 30 years and over that time she’s done a wide variety of things, from selling Amway to being a secretary, then a virtual assistant, and finally becoming a life and business coach. Terri has some amazing hints for both creating a business that you like, step-by-step. and how to involve your kids in helping with your business. She shares a lot of good, solid information on how to get started.
Terri: I became an Amway distributor because I am a born organizer. All of my paperwork was immaculate, so when I got to our meetings to distribute all of my receipts, I had time to socialize and party. Everybody else wanted to do the same thing, so they started asking me to help them with their paperwork, which was great because I love doing paperwork. I always joke and say the funnest thing for me to do is filing. People don’t understand that filing gets you quiet time and time to think while you’re just doing your ABCs, things we learned in kindergarten. It’s easy.
So I transitioned from being an Amway distributor to becoming a secretary for Amway distributors, and I ended up doing networking. Back then, networking was something that you never really heard about. The network ended up having clients, so I went from $30 a month to hundreds of dollars a month. I thought that was great, doing something that I loved to do. Then I went into corporate America for a while because I took a secretary class and started learning how to type better and how to do different word processing tasks, things like that. That didn’t work very well for me. That’s when I knew I was a born entrepreneur. Then my family was interrupted and I ended up as a single parent with three teenagers — and you know you can’t leave teenagers by themselves! I thought, “Okay, I need money and I need to take care of these teenagers,” so I ended up going back to networking and becoming full-time in a company called “24/7”. People were actually calling me at 2:00 in the morning and saying, “I need a presentation by 8:00. Can you help me?”
Meredith: This is a company you started, right?
Terri: Right, out of my home. In my book, there’s an image of the office that I had. Because I didn’t have any space for office space, I divided up my living room, part for the kids and part for me. I could watch my kids and they could actually help me with things, so it worked out great.
Meredith: That’s cool. How did you evolve from there?
Terri: I evolved from there by moving to Atlanta. When I moved to Atlanta, I told my clients I had other secretaries who could help them. My clients kicked and screamed and said, “No, we want you!” That’s how I became a virtual assistant before there was even a title for a virtual assistant. Back in 1997, we weren’t really as embraced with the internet as we are now. I had a fax machine, telephone, and overnight mailing, and that’s how I did the business as a virtual assistant.
From there, I went back and forth doing contracts with corporate America. Then, when the economy got really bad, everyone got laid off. People needed to know how to survive, and I taught people how to have their own businesses. I started as a SCORE cyber counselor. Individuals who really couldn’t afford to pay someone to help them start their business could find me through SCORE. SCORE would get credit as well, as they had all the infrastructure set up so that I could help many people at one time. That was fantastic. I loved it.
Meredith: What do you think is the big thing that gets in people’s ways when they’re starting a business?
Terri: Fear. Fear and confusion gets in the way for entrepreneurs. We know what we love to do, but we really don’t know how to fit it in with everything else that needs to be done. We’re fearful to ask for help, and we really don’t know how to strategize so that we can keep things from running into themselves, especially inside our heads. That is a big issue that many people seem to need help with. I run into that a lot when I’m coaching my clients. It’s fear, confusion, and being overwhelmed. There’s just so much to do, so much information, so many offerings. Every time you open up your e-mail, there’s another offering, so you really need someone to help you strategize to keep you on your path and help you decide what’s relevant and not relevant for you. Needless to say, I get almost 300 e-mails a day.
Jasper: So what type of people are coming to you and what kind of businesses are they looking to get help with?
Terri: I have individuals who are doing sales, individuals who are doing entertainment, individuals who want to start a doctor’s office, but aren’t really sure. They’re coming straight out of school, and even though they work for someone, they don’t really get the nuts and bolts of the actual business part. I have other coaches who are not as experienced in business, but they have the passion and the talent to coach individuals in their area. You name it, I have had customers from all walks of life.
Meredith: What do they all have in common, Terri?
Terri: What I said before: confusion. Just madness, just confusion. It’s like, “Help, I don’t know which way to turn. I don’t know what to do first. I don’t know what I don’t need to do.”
Meredith: So what is the first step you lead people through when they start working with you?
Terri: We sit down and do a path. We actually write down what your ultimate goal is, and we start with the end in mind. As Stephen Covey says, “You start with the end in mind, and you work backwards.” From there, we define a path of what comes next. So when you get a little swayed off, as I’m sure you understand, Meredith, you can bring yourself back by just opening a book and having your marketing path or your strategy path in front of you.
I wish this was video — I have all types of lists all over my walls. There’s no sense in putting up pictures, because my brain is all over my walls! I teach people that’s okay — you just have to get it organized so that you can follow it.
Favorite Book: Positively You by Jinger Heath; A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it
Terri Holley focuses on helping Parentpreneurs create balance realizations for their business and life that are intertwined. She has helped hundreds of Entrepreneurs. She coaches those with confusion, dissatisfaction and chaotic lives.
Terri is a proud mother of three children. She was a foster mother, and the neighborhood mother. She has influenced children to excel, receive education, and learn life survival skills.
When Terri was abandoned with three teenagers, she learned survival and coping skills. She successfully raised her children and achieved her business success. Terri coaches from this experience.
Terri is has achieved numerous community awards, as well as educational credentials. She is a Master Certified Life Coach and Business Consultant. Her education track includes: University of Maryland, Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore, and DeVry University. She will one of the first graduates from the Flex-Path MBA program at Capella University.
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