Darlene Hawley, Business Coach, on Creating a Business That Fits Your Life | GP 72

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Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed in your business? Can you structure it around your personal schedule instead of bending yourself to suit it? How can storytelling be effective marketing?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with Darlene Hawley about creating a business that fits your life.

Podcast Sponsor

Do you need help building your brand? Feel like you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online? Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution.

From building a brand and designing the perfect website to reflect that, to helping you rank higher with search engines. They’ve even created tools to make online marketing simple that are specifically for therapists. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for our listeners.

Simply visit brightervision.com/joe to learn more and get your first month free of a new website for your private practice.

Meet Darlene Hawley

Darlene Hawley is a speaker, personal branding, and online business coach who shows ambitious, heart-centered service-based entrepreneurs how to create a profitable online business while making space for themselves and their families.

Her genius is showing entrepreneurs 2+ years into their business how to deepen their business foundation and go after visibility so they can share their message with the world, attract dream clients, and have the impact, freedom, and flexibility they desire.

Visit her website. Connect on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

In This Podcast


  • Tips for moving your brick-and-motor business online
  • Storytelling on your website
  • Finding balance in your business

Tips for moving your brick-and-motor business online

A lot of what I found when I switched my business to an online model was that I had to start doing more networking and connecting with people from my laptop, not actually out and … in person … I found that I was able to start using social media and I was able to build relationships and connect with people over social media platforms. (Darlene Hawley)

To connect with an audience online, Darlene found connection and created relationships with people through:

  • Using social media platforms,
  • Building a strong website,
  • Podcasting and being a guest and having guests of similar interests,
  • Doing personal PR and putting herself out there to be interviewed by magazines

On your podcasts and in your interviews, make sure that you are sharing information about yourself that is valuable and invites your audience into your world. This is how you can have strong calls to action and encourage the building of relationships.

I think a big part of it is really being of service. When we’re growing online communities we’re really having to forge the same type of relationships we would have if we were in person, but we have to actually reach out and make the connections and invite people. (Darlene Hawley)

Storytelling on your website

We resonate and connect with people when we feel a closeness and similarity to them, and one of the best ways to achieve this closeness is through authentic storytelling because that is what can resonate most with people.

One of the great things about storytelling … I read that people are 22 times more likely to remember you if you share a story, that’s how our memories connect. (Darlene Hawley)

  • What about your story do you want to share?
  • How does it connect with the story of your ideal client?
  • How is your story going to serve them, and connect them to you?

Once you know these answers, you can bring them into your social media and incorporate them into your marketing so that you can attract your ideal client and the client that is the most authentic to you.

Through effective marketing and storytelling, you do not have to sell so hard because people connect with your authenticity: you do not have to convince them.

Finding balance in your business

Break down your schedule so that you can work with the number of clients that feel comfortable with you so that you can give them each your all.

Figure out a strategic marketing plan so that you are not working constantly trying to market your business, but instead that you do marketing in small pieces throughout the month or every other week so that you build on a rhythm and save yourself time.

Have a few hours of content creation such as building and writing blog posts and connecting with your audience through social media.

You can work with joy, you can create and run your business in a way that is enjoyable and fun to you instead of feeling draining and taking over all your time.

Every Friday is a “follow-up Friday” for Darlene, where she:

  • Connects and follows up with clients that she saw earlier in the week and plans out the next steps in their process,
  • Follows up on meetings that still need to happen,
  • Plans her upcoming week and jointly writes down business deadlines as well as any family commitments and appointments,
  • Plans out her upcoming week’s marketing deadlines

For me, just knowing that I have a schedule in place and that I know how to show up and what to do, it takes away that guess work, and so that’s one of the secrets to keeping to a really right schedule that has allowed me to have that freedom and flexibility to where I can be more playful and more at home with my kids or take time off from my business. (Darlene Hawley)

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Meet Alison Pidgeon

A portrait of Alison Pidgeon is shown. She discusses ways to grow your group practice on this week's episode of Practice of the Practice. Alison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

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Podcast Transcription

Do you need help building your brand? Feel like you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online? Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution., from building a brand and designing the perfect website to reflect that, to helping you rank higher with search engines. They’ve even created tools to make online marketing simple that are specifically for therapists. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for our listeners. Simply visit brightervision.com/joe to learn more and get your first month free of a new website for your private practice. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.

You are listening to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Whether you were thinking about starting a group practice or in the beginning stages, or want to learn how to scale up your already existing group practice, you are in the right place. I’m Alison Pidgeon, your host, a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a large group practice that I started in 2015. Each week, I feature a guest or topic that is relevant to group practice owners. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. I’m Alison Pidgeon, your host. We are doing a series right now of interviews with business owners that I have met through a coaching group that I’m in called We Should All Be Millionaires. If you are not familiar with Rachel Rodgers who owns HelloSeven and she has a podcast of the same name, definitely go check her out. She is amazing. And in that group, I found Darlene Hawley, who I interview today. She is a speaker personal branding and online business coach and she works specifically with service-based online entrepreneurs. She is excellent at marketing and branding and using storytelling in marketing.

We talk about that in the interview as well as she really does a nice job of incorporating how your personal life and your business are intertwined and how, you know obviously we have business goals that we want to reach to make our personal life better. And she incorporates that into her coaching as well. She also has a podcast called Attract and Stand Out that we didn’t get a chance to talk about in the interview, but wanted to mention that because it sounds super cool. She has people on who are entrepreneurs, who talk about their story and I’m actually really excited to listen. So here is my interview with Darlene Hawley.
Hi, Darlene. Welcome to the podcast.
Hello Alison. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here with you today.
Yes, yes. I’m so happy to talk with you. Maybe we could just start out by having you introduce yourself and your business.
Yes, absolutely. So my name is Darlene Hawley, and I’m an online business coach. I specialize in helping ambitious heart-centered service-based entrepreneurs to create a profitable online business while really making space for themselves and their families. I find a lot of my clients were struggling with working too many hours and giving, giving, giving to everybody else so often that they were not always making the right schedule for themselves and creating a business built around them and the life that they wanted. So I help them really find the right marketing strategies for their business, show up and share their story in an authentic way and really build a strong foundation so they can go after visibility and really share their message with the world, attracting clients and have an impact in the freedom and flexibility that they really desire for their selves.
That’s really cool. So how did you come to start that business? Like, did you have other prior jobs that kind of helped prepare you for that or how did you start becoming a business coach?
Yes, so my background before business coaching, I worked in retail management. I worked in what I call like big box retail, so Best Buy and Gap. And I was HR, training, development and management. So I was kind of running the show and coaching and developing and training and doing all those things. But what I found, when I actually found business coaching, I had no idea what coaching even was, which was kind of funny when I think back of it now because this was back in like 2007 when I started my business as a business coach. Most people when I would walk into a networking room were like, “Oh, like what sport do you coach?” And I still think like so much has changed in the past 14 years. Like everybody knows what coaching is now, but back then, it wasn’t a really common practice.

It wasn’t something that people were really familiar with yet. So when I found business coaching, I was really just looking for a career change. I was looking for something different to do. I was working retail management. I don’t know if you’ve worked retail ever, but like the hours are crazy. I was working weekends, nights and I would close one night and then open the next morning and I was just really tired. I was a single mom at the time as well. My oldest son was young and I felt like I was missing out on so many different pieces of his life because I was missing like soccer mornings and tacking him in bed at different points. So when I started looking for the career I kind of stumbled upon it and then as I was having a conversation with somebody about the business coaching industry, I was like, “Oh my gosh, like, this is totally who I am. I’ve been coaching my whole entire life.”

I helped my employees move up within the company. I was helping them figure out what they want to do with their life. And even if I think back to like school and junior high, I was always that friend where everybody came to me. It was like, “All right, Darlene, here’s what’s going on. What do I do? How should I move forward?” So when I found coaching, I was like, “Oh, this is totally my calling. I’ve been helping people and serving in this way for so long and it’s really what lights me up and I’m so passionate about.” So it was like the perfect bind. I was like, I didn’t even know business coaching was a thing. And here I am, 14 years later running my business and having a chance to help people run businesses now where in the beginning I was just helping them kind of with life stuff.
Yes. That’s awesome. So what types of businesses do your clients have?
Yes, so it kind of varies. Like when I first started my business, I was working with attorneys, landscapers, small boutique, like retail, small stuff like brick and mortar retail stores. Now I primarily specialize in working with online service-based entrepreneurs, so people who either have a brick and mortar business and they want to move it into the online space or they have an online business desire where they just want that freedom and flexibility where they can work from home and be home with their kids in the afternoon, pick kids up from school. So a lot of them are coaches, consultants, graphic designers, pretty much all across like the online service space.
Very cool. So obviously group practice owners fall into that category, which is why —
A lot of clients that are in group practice and they’re looking to bring their business online and want to figure out how to find clients online versus just only in their community, which has been fun, especially over the past year. A lot of people have come to me and are like, all right, like I didn’t think I wanted an online business. I was avoiding it for years and then COVID happened and we were all kind of like booted into the online space. And I was glad that I had been ahead of my times in some ways. Because for the past like six years, I’ve been growing my business solely online where in the beginning, when I first started, I wasn’t necessarily doing the online piece. I actually grew my business in Las Vegas, Nevada on the ground going to networking events and connecting with people just locally in my community.

And then when we moved from Las Vegas to California, my youngest at the time was six months old, and I was like, “Oh my gosh. How am I going to grow up my practice again?” Like I’m leaving my whole entire database in Las Vegas and moving to California and I had young children that were home with me and I wasn’t able to like, I wasn’t that trustworthy yet. Maybe with the local community, I was like, “Oh, I don’t know about daycare. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this.” And I was like, “Let’s look into the online piece.” And I fell in love with the fact that I could work from home for my laptop and I can be home with my kids, but then also serve clients and help support them in that way. So I transitioned completely from in-person networking and on the ground, running my business to online. And that helped immensely, obviously when COVID hit because was like, “Oh, I’m already doing this. I know what to do. I know how to continue moving forward.” And then people were like, “Help, Darlene. What do I do? How do I do this?”
So maybe we could drill into that a little bit more. Obviously, I know it’s probably a lot more information that we can go into during this interview, but do you have any like kind of tips or strategies for people if they’re listening right now and they’re thinking like, how do I take my brick and mortar business and really transit it online?” Or maybe they just transited their business online, obviously very quickly because of how everything went down with COVID and now they’re like, “Ooh, I want to actually formalize this and do this permanently.” Do you have any suggestions for them?
Yes, absolutely. A lot of what I found when I switched my business to the online model was that I had to start doing more networking and connecting with people from my laptop, not actually out networking and connecting in person, which I still did some of. I didn’t completely cut that out, but I found that I was able to start using social media and I was able to build relationships and connect with people on social media platforms and build those relationships. I also found for myself that like podcasting was something that I really enjoyed, like the chance to go and share my message through other people’s platforms.

So collaborating and connecting with other entrepreneurs who were doing similar, not necessarily the same work as I was doing, but they had a similar platform where we shared a similar type of ideal client and going on podcasts or writing guest blog posts for other people’s sites or even like pitching myself even like doing some PR and putting myself out there to be interviewed for like magazine articles or like authority magazine, different places like that, where I could start to get my message out a little bit further from my local community.

And people were able to find it if they were doing a Google search and they were looking for something specific. If it’s in my industry, then my information would pop up for them to be able to access it that way. So that was one of the first things I started looking at. I was like, “How can I market myself in like a really strategic way where I can get my message out and I can connect with dream clients and have a strong call to action, too?” Like a big piece of that is when you’re sharing your story on podcasts, or if you’re pitching yourself to be interviewed for somebody’s magazine, making sure that you’re sharing information that’s valuable and then inviting them into your world, like saying like, “Hey, this is how you can connect with me. This is how you can come join my community and hang out and start to build that relationship.”

I think a big part of it is really just being of service. Like when we’re growing online communities, we’re really having to forge the same type of relationships we would if we were in-person. But we have to actually reach out and make the connections and invite people like, “Hey, let’s hop on a coffee chat,” whether that’s actually on the phone with each other and just getting to know each other, jumping on Zoom and chatting and getting to know each other that way. But I found like collaboration partnerships were huge and that was a great opportunity to really start to forge those relationships and allows them to get to know who I am. And then I’m also able to figure out who they are and what they’re looking for and see how I can refer business to them or keep them in my database so if I do come across somebody who’s looking for the type of support they offer, I already have that relationship built. And like, those relationships are so important. Like I love just getting to know people and asking questions and digging in and finding out like what makes them tick and what they’re up to. And then continuing those relationships, going back and not just like having one conversation and then never following up again, but actually building that relationship so you can start to build a friendship.
Yes, absolutely. And I love how you framed it out. Like you’re not doing as much in-person stuff anymore. You have to connect over the computer or over the phone. So you’re still doing the same type of marketing and networking. It’s just in a little bit of a different way than it was 10 years ago.
Yes, absolutely. And I think one of the things that was really vital for me when I transitioned too, was making sure that my messaging was really clear. I think that’s the biggest thing that most entrepreneurs struggle with, especially when they’re marketing and networking in the online space. It sometimes feels easier to them to like have a conversation in person, but then when they have somebody coming to their website, making sure that like the messaging of who you are, the work that you do, what your ideal clients struggle with and what kind of, what that desire is that they’re actually seeking connects to the fact that like, “Hey, I’m the solution to that problem.” Like a lot of times we miss that when it comes to messaging online. Like if you go to websites, sometimes you can find a ton of information about people and then other times you go to somebody else’s website and they’re like, “Oh, there’s a little bit of information here, but there’s not as much.”

So it’s important that people definitely research you. I kind of call it stalking. Like people stalk you on social media pages or they go to your website and they check you out. You want to make sure that you have some of that information up there and they really get a clear picture like, “Oh, like, this is what she does. This is the type of work that they’re doing.” And then you want your ideal client to be like, “Well, this is what I’m struggling with and I want to get kind of from this point, A, struggle spot over to this point and be where I’m getting the results that I need.” Like you can basically take them on that journey with them so they’re like, “Oh, this person actually can help me get where I’m trying to go. I need to reach out to them. I need to look at their blog posts, read some of their content, go check out their YouTube videos, wherever they’re showing up.

Follow those places and then when they’re ready, they’re going to be like, “Oh, now it’s time to jump on a call because I’m ready to work with this person. I know what they’re about, I see what their values are, really aligned position with where I’m trying to go and they’ve been there. They’ve gone through this. They know how to support me and now I’m ready to work with them.” So you kind of want to be able to have a place where your messaging is so clear whether they hear you on a podcast or if they come to your website, they’re like, “Oh, this is how this person can help me. Now I’m ready to move forward.” Does that make sense?
Absolutely. Yes, and do you recommend that people use storytelling in their marketing? Obviously with counseling, it’s very clear like the client is coming to you because they have a problem and you have the skills and the education to be able to help them hopefully. So how do you, like, what do you recommend in terms of how do they kind of illustrate that on their website?
Yes, absolutely. So I’m a huge fan of storytelling and people like, we connect with people that we really resonate with. Like in most of the ways that we can resonate and connect together is through a story. Like when I think of storytelling, I can even think back too, being a child sitting around like the campfire and people are engaged, hearing stories or go stories, or like having people tell what’s been going on in their life and how things have been going. Like, those are the things that really pull people together. So as a business owner, you have a personal brand. Every single one of us, even if you’re not a business owner, actually, all of us have personal brands, whether you’re in corporate America and you have a career, or if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re running your practice, you have a story to share.

You have a personal brand, so you want to be able to write that story for yourself so that people can really see who you are and what you’re doing versus them creating a story for you. We don’t want to leave too much to the imagination where they make up their own story about us. We want to be able to share our stories so people can really connect and resonate and relate to who we are. And one of the great things about storytelling, I forget who the quote is by, but I read that people are 22 times more likely to remember you if you share a story. That’s how we connect. That’s how our memories connect. Like if you hear a story, like I had shared earlier today that I was a single mom and I was working retail management and I was working a ton of hours and I didn’t really have that freedom and flexibility in my schedule that I really desired, when I share that story, now as a business coach, a lot of my clients will come to me and they’re like, “Okay, I’m overworked, I’m exhausted.”

They might not be a single mom, they might not have been working retail management before, but they can relate to the overwhelmed, the burnout and wanting something more. So when I share that story, a lot of people will come back to me. That’s what really intrigued me to like find out more about you and figure out how you work and how you do things that you do. It’s important that we share those pieces. And you don’t have to share everything. Like I always get this question, “Do I have to share everything and verbally vomit all of my secrets into the whole, into the online world?” And the answer is no on. There’s a quote by Brene Brown that says “Share from the scar, not from the wound.”

And I really believe that. I feel like when you’re ready to share a story with your audience, you’ll know if it feels appropriate, if you can connect the dots for them, like, “Hey, I was going through this situation and here’s the things that I did to get where I’m at today.” That’s going to really resonate with your clients, but if you just show up and you’re sharing information that doesn’t really connect with your audience and there’s not really a purpose or a rhyme or reason to it, sometimes that doesn’t come off as well. Like we probably at some point in our lives seen drama on social media. We don’t have to do that piece as entrepreneurs. We can really show up and share the pieces that are important. So I always ask myself kind of a couple of questions like, “What about the story? Do I really want to share and how does it really connect my ideal plan? How is this story going to serve them?”

And sometimes it could be something I’m going through and in the moment, and it might be impactful to where they are today and other times you might want to wait two weeks or two months or two years from now to share that story. So really feeling into like, for yourself, like, “Do I want to share the story? It doesn’t really connect with my audience.” And if the answer is yes, then share it. It’s going to be a great story. Your clients are going to love it. They’re going to be able to see like, “Wow, I can’t believe you’ve gone through this. I was going through something similar and I love the steps that you took to get yourself there because they’re now able to help me to move myself forward.”
Yes. And I think too, it doesn’t have to be anything super vulnerable. Like I know when I share, yes, I run a big million plus dollar practice and I have three kids at home. Especially other moms are like, “Wow, if you can do it, I can do it.” It resonates with them and they reach out to work with me for that reason, because they’re like, “Oh, I love that you must understand like work-life balance because you have three kids at home.” So I think even just that helps people feel more comfortable like, “Oh, she gets it.”
Yes. That totally resonates with me. I’m a mom of four and so I get that question all the time too. People are like, “How do you run a successful business? You have four kids at home, you’re homeschooling your kids.” I never homeschooled my kids prior to Covid, but here in Southern California, like our schools barely opened. And I was like, “Ah, we only have like two more months till school ends. Let’s just stay home. Let’s not even try to go back on campus this year.” So like, we do a lot and I found for myself, like, there’s no balance to it. I call it more of like a harmony, like some days I’m more mom and some days I’m more like entrepreneur and business owner and like I’m running my business and it working with clients. But we get to kind of like have that ebb and flow into our day where you’re like, “Right now, I’m going to be mom. I’m going to go, like, I’m working with clients from this time to this time and then I’m going to help with homeschooling from this time to this time. And then at this point, I’m going to go make dinner.”

Like we have all those different pieces on there, right. Some days are heavier in your business and some days are heavier doing like the family stuff. And I think that’s like the beauty of having an online business, is we get to kind of figure out what that looks like for us individually and really lean into that. Like not every single, none of my clients have the same schedule, which I think is kind of cool. Like all of them have different things going on in their lives and they get to pick a schedule that fits perfectly for them. I think when we see other entrepreneurs, how they’re marketing and how they’re showing up and being visible and how they’re working their business, we tend to naturally want to be just like them and like, “Well, this is how they’re showing up. This is what they’re doing. So I have to do it this way.”

And what I found was the total opposite for me, because when I first started my business, I was trying to do that. I was emulating everybody else. and I was like, okay, people are wearing business suits when they’re going to networking events. They’re carrying a briefcase. They are talking about these things and they’re marketing in this way. And none of those things really felt right to me. It took me a little while. I’m a little slow learner sometimes, but when I first started my business, it took me two years to realize like, “Oh, I don’t have to be like everybody else. I don’t have to do what they’re doing. I can do this in a way that feels really good to me.” So I started dressing more like I want to dress. I started introducing myself in different ways and really connecting with people and not trying to be like that.

Not that I was really like a used car salesman those first two years. I was more sale-sy and like, “Hey, this is who I am. And this is what I do and this is why you need to work with me.” And then when I kind of backed off from that and like really connected with people and starting to build relationships. I realized like, oh, like I don’t have to sell as hard. I don’t even have to sell if I build a strong relationship and they get to know who I am and they understand how I work with my clients and they know what I do. I don’t have to do as much work anymore. And it didn’t feel like it felt those two years. And that was really when my business started to transition and take off, because I was like, just showing up as Darlene. I didn’t have to be anybody else.
Yes. And I think people can sense that, like you’re being your authentic self and that’s attractive to people.
Yes. That’s great.
Yes. Go ahead.
I was just going to say, it’s so much easier when you don’t have pressure, like, you’re almost wearing a mask. Like you’re pretending. You’re kind of playing make-believe trying to be like something that you’re not, and when you take that mask off and you just show up as yourself, like it’s almost like a breath of fresh air. You’re like, “Oh, people are actually connecting with me. They’re seeing who I am and how I show up.’ And like, those pieces are so valuable. So I know for myself, at that two year mark, when I started at that aha moment, it just takes so much pressure off myself, because I was like, “I don’t have to do all these like crazy sales tactics. I can just show up and be Darlene and I’m worthy and people are going to really see who I am.” And that’s when they started connecting. They’re like, “Oh, we have similar values, similar beliefs or, oh, I love how you shared this information because it really connected and resonated in a different way.”
That’s awesome. One thing I wanted to talk about is, I know from your introduction, you talk about how a lot of your clients are looking at both, obviously the business side, making improvements. Often that means working less hours because they have things in their personal life that they want to attend to that maybe they’re not doing currently because they work too much. So I really love that you incorporate both things, as I feel like since I’d become an entrepreneur, like my personal life and my work life are so intertwined. And we actually talk about that in our own kind of consulting groups about what do you really want for your personal life and let’s design your business so that it works for how you want to live your personal life. So I was wondering if you could speak about that a little bit more, how that kind of plays a role in your coaching and how you kind of address that with people.
Yes, absolutely. For me that was like the key piece to being an entrepreneur. Was like having more time flexibility in my schedule to where I can be home with my kids more and then work my business as well. So that’s definitely something that I talk with all my clients about. Most of my clients want something similar. They’re like, “I don’t want to work 40, 60 plus hours a week anymore. I want to create a business that really feels like it’s a part of my life and it’s not like over consuming and taking every ounce of energy that I have.” So for me, like I typically work about 30 hours a week in my business and that feels really good to me. I don’t know if I shared this earlier, but when I worked in retail management, I was working 60 plus hours a week.

I was like just fried, exhausted. Mentally I wasn’t able to show up how I needed to even at work, I’m sure because I was so tired and go, go, go like that. Almost like, I hate the word hustle, like the word hustle makes my body tense and tight. So for me, I was like, “How do I create a business where I’m able to make an impact, I’m able to provide really well for my family and then do it on my terms in a way that feels really good to me?” And that was when I kind of went through the process and I was like, “All right, how am I most productive each day? What activities do I need to actually be doing to work with clients and handle my client load, plus doing my marketing activities to really attract clients and create content, all those different buckets that we do as entrepreneurs?

Like we have to work with our clients. We need to make sure we check our emails and send invoices and like do all those, like day to day tasks type things. We also want to put ourselves out there and do some marketing activities each week. So I’ve basically broken down my schedule to where I work with about 10 clients per month. And most of those clients, I meet with a couple of times per month and then I don’t have to spend all my time marketing. Like I have a really strategic marketing plan built out for myself so I know exactly which marketing activities I’m working on each month. And it doesn’t have to take like 20, 30 hours per week. Typically it only takes me about 10 hours of marketing per week and then I do like two to three hours of content creation whether it’s writing a blog posts, creating videos, engaging on social media platforms, those different types of things.

And then just showing up and having fun in my business and making it more playful and exciting. So for me, it was finding that balance of how do I run my business really smart and strategically to where I’m not working a ton of hours over what I need to? So that’s a lot of what connects to with my clients. They’re like, “Okay, I don’t want to work tens of hours, but I want to be really smart and strategic with it.” So I work, with myself and my clients, I sit down and put myself through the same thing I put my clients through, but I have every quarter, I create a strategic marketing plan for myself and I know exactly which activities I’m doing, how I’m going to show up, whether it’s pitching myself to be on podcasts or if it’s being of service on social media and just engaging with people and building those relationships.

Or sometimes it’s networking in person. Obviously I haven’t been doing that one as much lately, but a lot of places have switched their in-person stuff to virtual. So I can still show up and network and engage with people in that way. And that was what felt really good to me, as just finding a balance in my schedule and sticking to it. Like I have on my couch, I do what I call follow-up Fridays. So every Friday before the end of my Workday, I do two things. I follow up with anybody that I’ve connected with during the week, like send a follow up emails, maybe I sat down with somebody and did a call to see if we were going to work together and they were still doing their due diligence. I’ll follow up with them. Or if I had a connection, a coffee connection earlier in the week, I’ll follow up and say, “Hey, it was so great meeting with you this week. How are things going? Here’s what our next were going to be. Here’s what we’re doing.”

And then as soon as I’m done with those follow-ups, I spent about 15 minutes and I map out my upcoming week. I put all the big tasks into my schedule and then I also put my like my clients, kids schedules, doctor’s appointments, any of those things. And then I put in my marketing activities so that Monday morning when I come into my office, I already know what I’m doing. I don’t have to like, think about it and guess on how I’m going to market my business or how I’m going to work with my clients. And it just takes some of that stress off of me so that I can just show up and do the things that I need to. And I’m totally human. Like some days my schedule doesn’t go the way that I planned, even though I try really hard to keep my schedule as tight as possible. Like some days the kids need more support with their homeschooling.

So I might have to push a task off to the next day. But for me, just knowing that I have a schedule in place and that I know how to show up and what to do, it takes away that guesswork. So that’s been like one of the, I think the secrets to keeping a really tight schedule has allowed me to have that freedom and flexibility to where I can be more playful and more at home with my kids, or take time off from my business and actually go for a hike in the middle of the day or different things like that.
I love that concept of follow-up Fridays. That’s so smart.
It was a game changer because before I did follow up Friday, I would like, if I was like, oh, I should reach back out to Alison, I would stop what I was doing and I would reach out to you and then I’d be like, okay, shoot. What was I doing before I reached out to Alison? And I would just take my schedule kind of all over the place. So now if it’s like Tuesday and I was like, oh, I should follow up with Alison. I’ll write your name on my calendar for Friday. So Friday when I sit down, I already have my list of people who popped into my head throughout the week. Or I can look at my calendar for the past week or two and say, oh, like, I need to follow back up with this person or connect with this person. That’s been a little while.

And then I also like to look at too, like if I haven’t talked to somebody in three months who I have a relationship with, but we’ve been busy, I’ll pop them an email and say like, “Hey, how have you been. What’s going on? Let’s connect. It’s been a while.” That’s really done a lot. A lot of benefits have come from that because a lot of clients don’t say yes, when you first meet with them, especially as a, I’m a business coach. So some people are like, do I want to get a business coach? Is this going to work for me? We have all these questions. And there’s other people out there that do business coaching. So sometimes they’ll have a great conversation with me and they’re like, let me sleep on it.

And they might come back two days later, they might come back two weeks later or two months later. But a lot of that success for them coming back to working with me is the follow-up. They’re like, “You’re the only person I’ve talked to that’s actually followed up with me.” Most people follow up and most people don’t buy until like the seventh, at least the seventh interaction you have with them, which is mind blowing. Because most of us stop following up at like two and we never go to that seven. So a lot of people that I work with it’s because of that follow up system that I’ve created in my business. It’s allowed them to come back to me and they’re like, “Oh, I totally want to work with you. Nobody else even followed up to say like, hey, thanks for having a conversation with me where you checked in. You’ve shared helpful information, you’ve shared a blog post, you ask questions.

And I just do it because that’s part of my system and that’s kind of who I am too. I love to follow up and build those relationships. And people buy from people that they feel like are their friend more than they would buy. Like if there’s two people that you’re talking to, if there’s two practices that you’re talking to, if one of them follows up and connects with you and builds a relationship with you and the other one you meet with once, and you had a great conversation with, at the end of the day, you’re probably going to go back to that person who built the relationship with you instead of the other practice. So it’s kind of like just being a really nice kind human being. You don’t even have a lot of extra ads. It’s just showing up and being really authentic and kind, and actually caring. And that’s what people really want to connect with.
Absolutely. So I know we’re about out of time and I wanted to make sure that we talked about your giveaway. Do you want to explain how folks can find that?
Yes, absolutely. So I have a work, it’s a short work book, short guide basically, I guess, is what you’d call it. It’s called Six Steps to Attract and Stand Out. It really is set up to help you create a profitable service-based brand and business and it’s mapped out where it goes through my signature, a six step process so that you can work less and really create ease in your business. And it’s also got easy, actionable steps that you can implement right away into your business to move yourself forward. It’s kind of like a simple roadmap, I guess, is the best way to describe it where there’s one small action step and each of the six steps that I teach in my business as part of my framework, and it gives you one little piece that you can implement today to make yourself move forward and create a business that’s more profitable and allows you to show up in the way that you want to.
Nice. And can they find that on your website?
Yes, absolutely. If you go to darlenehawley.com, it’s actually the very first thing you’ll see right when you land on there.
Excellent. And if anybody would like to get in touch with, possibly to work with you, or just maybe to ask more questions, what’s the best way for them to contact you?
You can go to my website. I have a ton of free resources, blog posts, valuable content as well as there’s a contact form on there. Or if you want to connect, I love to connect on LinkedIn and you can find me at Darlene Hawley. I’m on LinkedIn, and I’d love to get to know you and see kind of what’s going on in world, how things are going. And if you’re looking for support, I’m happy to support you. But if you’re also just looking for connection and building a relationship, that’s definitely what I’m there for.
Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Darlene. It’s really been cool to hear what you’re doing as a business coach, and I really appreciate your time today.
Yes, absolutely. Alison, thank you so much for having me on.
Thank you again to Brighter Vision for being a sponsor of this podcast. I’ve had a Brighter Vision website for five years now and I love it. I would recommend it highly to anyone. And if you want to get the discount that we mentioned earlier in the beginning of the podcast, go to brightervision.com/joe.

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This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.