Before Dr. Nancy came to work with Dr. Sabrina Starling, her business had experienced a 25% decrease in income, and Dr. Nancy had not paid herself in six months. After initially reaching out to us, Dr. Nancy actually chose to work with a different coach. When that did not work out, she got back in contact with us. In just a few short months of working with Dr. Sabrina, Dr. Nancy, and her business, are on a completely different trajectory…
This is a transcript of Darren Hopman, Tap the Potential's Success Team Lead, interviewing Dr. Nancy about her experience working with us.
Darren: One of the things that I first remember in our interactions together, Dr. Nancy, was I was trying to get on a call with you—the Profit Maximizer Consultation. I remember getting a message from you that you had started coaching with someone else, and then that fell through.
Dr. Nancy: Right.
Darren: I personally remember my disappointment in that experience. I was like, “Oh, no.” But I remember you also coming back to me and saying, “Things aren't really working out there. I want to get on a call with you.” We got on the call and things moved forward from there. Having said that, first share with me some of the challenges you were dealing with prior to working with Dr. Starling.
Dr. Nancy: My challenges were that I had two locations and 40 staff, and we had taken a downturn in income. In 2016, we lost 25% of our income very suddenly because of an insurance company that just decided not to pay us. It was a very large portion of our practice. I had not been paying myself for six months, and I didn't see how I was going to get out of this situation. I knew I had to make a change.
I knew I wanted to make a change, but I was so distracted by ideas and solutions that I had too many, and I was not taking steps on a path. I was completely scattered. I had staff that were with me that I knew weren't “with me.” It was the most stressful time in my life, let alone my professional life, the most stressful time in my life. I could not go on without help.
Darren: What would've been the cost to you of not solving problems, the problems that you were dealing with?
Dr. Nancy: I think it was my sanity, my mental health. The cost could've run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, trying to just move forward with what we had with the big expenses that we had. I think it was my mental state that was most at risk.
Darren: What was your experience of the SWOT process and working with Dr. Sabrina?
Dr. Nancy: The SWOT process was interesting. It took six or eight weeks, I don't even remember how long, but it was weekly phone calls with Sabrina. She had a very set agenda, but of course as I'm going through my six or eight weeks, my professional life is in slight turmoil. We did get an opportunity to talk about those things along the way too, which was really helpful because she was able to listen to my psychobabble and then just laser pointer in on what was the crux problem or what was the potential solution. That was really helpful, even though that wasn't the intention of the process. The intention of the process was for her to gain information.
What happened with her gaining information is along the way she would give me insight as to the potential for things that we happened to be talking about that week, like, “Well, this is something we'll work on in the future. Right now we're just gathering information, but I see potential for growth here or I see potential for improvement here.”
That was so emotionally helpful just to hear that she understood me. There are many people in my field that don't understand my practice, because we are a bit of an enigma in my field, because we're so busy, we have a different business model. For her to really grip where I was coming from and my business was very calming. It was priceless to have that ally that I could say anything to about my business and she would immediately put that concept into what she knew about me and my business and be able to offer solutions or help.
Darren: How has it been for you going with the SWOT process and in the small-group coaching at the same time?
Dr. Nancy: Doing them both together I think was better than just doing the SWOT alone, because the small group gives you perspective on the whole picture. In my small group, everybody's ahead of me, so they're going through processes ahead of me that I will be going through, and some are way far ahead and have done all of the work already. There was times where those people could tell me, “I've been there. I know what you're going through and I know that it's so … “ I'm going to cry just thinking about it. It's hard, and they understood, and they said, “It's going to be okay.” That was really helpful, just to hear somebody say that that I know has been on the same path as me and I know I'm walking behind them on this path. It was very reassuring in a time where it was up for grabs.
That small group process in the moment was interesting, but as a whole it really worked to get me oriented to the complete process.
As a small business owner, you're an island. You don't have time to really commiserate with other small business owners, except maybe occasionally, and they may or may not be in the same position that you're in. They may be in a different industry, or even if they're in the same industry they have a completely different business model. I've always been somebody that, when I talk to a small business owner, I feel like I can see right through what they're saying to what their weakness is, but yet I had difficulty seeing where my weaknesses were.
In the small group and mastermind, you have tasks that you are supposed to be doing so that you can progress along this process, and there are these people that will hold you accountable. They will be expecting you to produce at the next meeting what you say you are going to produce. Just like I when I just speak to other business owners casually can pinpoint where there may be a flaw or what their problem might be, these people are able to say to me, “Hey, I heard what you said. You should concentrate on this aspect of what you said,” or, “Wait a minute, you said this two weeks ago about what you were going to do, where's that? Why did you drop the ball on that?” It's an environment where we're not only allowed to call each other out, and support each other, but we're expected to. We're expected to be that sounding board for somebody to get feedback or just a memory jog on what your path is. It's been good.
Darren: Nancy, you have also sent a key employee through Leadership Bootcamp, and you have lined up another employee for the next Leadership Bootcamp. What is the value you are experiencing from your employee going through Leadership Bootcamp?
Dr. Nancy: That was an ideal opportunity for me. I have always been one that I can see potential in employees and have always wanted to give them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and their capabilities, but I didn't have really any place to send anybody or any training other than what I could train them on my own.
One of my employees was really a rising star. She went through the Leadership Bootcamp, and almost immediately I saw her wanting to take on things and I saw her understanding herself more, to the point where she knew that completing tasks wasn't her strong point, so I saw her striving and pushing herself to be that task oriented person that would complete a task. At the same time, as she continues to go through this process, she has just started to take complete ownership of different processes without my direction.
Let's see. I wrote down a couple of notes here. Taking charge. Taking responsibilities out of my hands in a way that I fully trust her now and can ask her anything about any process that's going on and she gives me feedback or she gives me a report on what's going on, and even to the point where if I give my opinion, she may disagree with me and say, “No, I see this and I'm going to pursue this,” and I'm like, “Okay. You know what? You're doing a great job. Just go with it.” She is doing things that no employee has ever done, and I've probably had 100 employees over the last 20 years, and even people currently are still employed with me that have been with me for 18 years, she is far and away exceeding my expectations of what an employee could create and could take on.
For me, that allows me to concentrate on my strengths and the things I'm good at rather than having to follow up with 10 or 20 different people, and that's where I can start leading the company again, whereas before we were just on autopilot. Now I can start making some big decisions about our future.
Darren: Awesome. That's great. What are you doing differently as a result of feedback you received from Dr. Sabrina?
Dr. Nancy: I had already started decreasing expenses. We went through the SWOT just a couple weeks ago with our strengths and weakness, opportunities, and threats. With the strengths, she used feedback from some of my employees, and it was all really positive, so that was good. It was good to hear that things that I had been purposely trying to do were happening. The weakness were things that I knew about, but she has then a plan. It's a weakness, but we have a plan. That came out. As we were going through the SWOT analysis, as we were discussing specific things, she would bring up what the potential would be. Part of the opportunities there is to zero in on our ideal client. We've already been discussing that as a task, or we've already been discussing that as a group with my employees, so we're all tuned into that next potential.
She has caused me generally to be more critical on what expectations are from employees, to be more critical on where we spend our money, to be more critical on how I spend my time and energy so that we don't have the wrong people in the wrong positions, so that people who are not toeing the line and being exceptional employees, we're just not going to tolerate that anymore. I tried to coach some of them through it, but it just was they were not coachable. Allow myself to say, “Thank you, it's been great, but it's not really working out anymore,” and to take the emotion out of it, because it's really just focused on our goal.
As far as the threats go, there was one major threat in my business, but we immediately have a resolution for it, and that's something we've already undertaking to that threat to mitigate. It was fascinating that the whole SWOT analysis, as we were discussing it, it all adds up to not just what's going on with your business now, but what is the potential in two years or five years? The potential is huge. Literally, when I was going through the SWOT analysis with her and she was going through everything, three-quarters of the way through I started to cry. I thought I might cry right now just talking about it. It is not only a few tears like a few minutes ago. I was literally sobbing. I had to take a break, and when I came back she said, “So what's going on?” I said, “I'm happy. I'm just so happy that there's such huge potential.” I knew it, but I was so buried in the ineffective business that my business had become that I couldn't even see out of it. She helped to give me great clarity, and now my path is completely clear.
Darren: What is your outlook for how things will be with your business moving forward?
Dr. Nancy: It will be smaller but more lucrative, and with a potential to reach more people, and with a superior team of people running that business with me, which will allow me to not be so stressed and not to have to worry, to be spending my time on what Sabrina calls the $10,000-an hour things rather than the $10-an-hour things, which is exciting. I see a group of people that is me and my staff being excited about working together and excited about the future and excited about the value that we're bringing to people. I'm just thrilled to even just think about it, let alone what it will be like to actually bring those things into fruition.
Darren: Is there anything else that we haven't covered right now that you would like to share before we end?
Dr. Nancy: I think one of the big strengths that I'm developing is the people that surround me, my staff, because before I never knew who to trust, not that anybody was stealing from me, but who to trust about who is actually doing their job, who is actually not doing their job, who was ratting somebody else out because the just didn't like them. There was all these people that were drama creators, and the drama creators would bring me drama, and usually it was on a Friday afternoon, so I would stew about it the whole weekend and be angry and upset. I am 90% eliminated that, and that is worth its weight in gold to know that the people you're working with are 100% with you and that you trust their processes and they're transparent about everything and there's no drama, and when there is, it's very easy to spot it immediately. That is something that I am thankful for on a daily basis.
Would you like to be one of our next Success Stories?
Dr. Sabrina Starllng, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series is the founder of Tap the Potential. Tap the Potential specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work!
Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses — no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing — and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from their strengths.
With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members.