We talk with Business Coach Sarah Dawn with Sarah Dawn Consulting on why people are overworked and burnt out, plus we learn the steps to work smarter, not harder.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here. Another episode of Coach the Coach Radio. And this is going to be a fun one. Today, we have with us Sarah Dawn with Sarah Dawn Consulting. Welcome, Sarah.
Sarah Dawn: Hi. Thanks for having me on the show.
Lee Kantor: Well, I'm excited to learn what you're up to. Tell us a little bit about your consulting practice. How are you serving folks?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, I'm working with business owners to help them reach all of those growth goals. What do they want to do in their business to make more money, and having that set up really super intentionally, so that that growing business fits in a lifestyle they love. Most entrepreneurs don't do just that. It's kind of all or nothing, and it ends up this roller coaster, and we think that you can have it all.
Lee Kantor: Now, what's your backstory? How did you get involved in this line of work?
Sarah Dawn: I, actually, am an attorney. And I think we can tend to serve our best role in helping people down the path that we forged a little bit harder with a little bit more effort. I picture kind of going through that jungle with a machete. That's what I did in growing my business as an attorney. I was a partner in a law firm. I was hustling, working nonstop. All I wanted to do was build and grow that business success. And I didn't have any measurement for what personal success would look like. What was the life that I wanted? I just wanted to grow more, have the clout, have the money and the other parts weren't falling in place.
Sarah Dawn: I think I had some belief system -- I know I had some belief systems behind it on where my value lied within my organization. Even though it was mine, I thought I had to work harder and longer hours to be valuable to it. And I fully burned myself out. I had health concerns for several years in a row that I kind of wore is a badge of honor, that it meant I must be doing something right, because along with those health concerns was a growing business. And ultimately, my body knocked me down in a way that I couldn't ignore. I ended up with a sudden onset of Bell's palsy, which is paralysis of half of your face.
Sarah Dawn: And that was my pause. I won't pretend like I'm a quick learner. It's not like that happened, and I thought, "Oh, I better do something better." It took some time, but that was my realization that I needed to structure my own work differently. And over the years I realized I could do that. And I didn't have to give up the success part. I didn't have to make less money just because I was getting better. I don't love the word balance, but it's kind of a better variety in my life.
Sarah Dawn: And when I did that for myself, I thought every entrepreneur I meet when I'm networking, when I'm doing anything, meeting other business owners, there's still that same practice. People say, "I'm an entrepreneur, so I get to pick which 80 hours a week I work," or talking about answering those midnight emails. And I was like, "Man, everybody else is doing this. And I really want to show them that they don't have to."
Lee Kantor: Now, are you still doing lawyering, or is this now just one of the tools in your tool belt, and you're consulting in addition to the lawyering?
Sarah Dawn: Very, very little lawyering. I don't take any new clients. That's actually probably one of the hardest boundaries to draw with my consulting clients, because they kind of are like, "Oh, hey, we got a lawyer in house too. Let's do all that part." And I refer all of that out. I have a very narrow little bit of lawyering. And I just realized this is the work that lights me up. Watching this success grow for people has more fulfillment for me than any contract I've ever drafted in my career. So, I'm moving that direction to have little to no lawyering in my life.
Lee Kantor: And now, you chose to call your firm consulting, not coaching. How do you kind of discern the difference between consulting and coaching?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, I know people feel really passionate about those different words. When people say, "Well, which is it?" I say, yes. It depends. In the strategy part, it's very much consulting where I'm giving my client tools, showing them how to structure it in their business, and guiding them through strategy marketing plans, very much consulting. When it's one-on-one with that business owner, a lot of coaching, a lot of diving into belief systems, behaviors, and leadership training. That's the part that's more coaching, but across the board, whatever anybody wants to call it, I'm getting people results. And whatever it's called, I love the results at the end.
Lee Kantor: So, now, how do people kind of find you? What are they going through where the solution is to call Sarah and her team?
Sarah Dawn: I have gotten most of my client base so far just through networking and referrals. I have a huge referral base where I'm a business owner that loves my life. It’s contagious. And that's exactly what I want to develop here. I want to create a movement of doing business better where you're not having to pick between being mentally healthy, and loving life, and having success in your business. So, a lot of my clients have been referral-based. Like I said, one client will do it. They have their network and friends seeing something shift, and they're like, "What are you doing?" and I get that next referral. And then, just through my network, showing up in rooms, talking with people and just kind of having this conversation about what's possible and etching away at those beliefs that you have to pick.
Lee Kantor: Now, when you're working with someone, they must have a level of self-awareness where they're like, "Hey, something's not going right. There must be a better way. Let me explore kind of some coaching, or consulting, or advisory services to help me get through this," or is it something that there are symptoms that they're like, "Hey, my business hasn't grown in six months, or a year, or I'm losing clients, or having trouble in my relationship"? Like, are there symptoms, or is it something that's just self-awareness where they have this kind of realization?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, the symptom base is if I'll get a referral from an acupuncturist or a therapist of somebody that has gone to them for those symptoms that are coming up, somebody with some other practitioner modality that the individual has said, "I'm burning out, my body's shutting down, something's not working for me." And when it's clear it's their business, those referrals come over to me. Now, what's the saying? You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force them to drink. I can tell pretty quickly when I'm talking to someone, especially if it's somebody that's wanting one-on-one services with me, this consulting service, I can tell pretty quickly if they have the level of self-awareness that I can do any good for them.
Sarah Dawn: If I hear somebody say, "Well, I've already tried everything, and I actually already know that nothing works," or "My business is different. You can't really apply any new strategies to it. Everything has to stay exactly the same way it is." Oh, okay. You've got to have that level of self-awareness that you just mentioned that something's not working and something needs to shift that you don't know about yet. If you're convinced that there aren't any solutions that will work, and there's nothing in your business or lifestyle you can change, okay, there's nothing I could do with that.
Lee Kantor: So, now, I mean, even in your own life, you were having those -- like the universe was giving you signals, and you were like, "I got this. This is just another hurdle in front of me." So, you weren't ready for the work at that point?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, there were plenty of years that I actually remember a life coach approaching me. He was in my network. And I was putting on this big event, that was part of my firm, we would have these huge events that were just kind of bring in not necessarily the clients, but the network and build the clout. And I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And a gentleman that was a life coach, which actually put a really bad taste in my mouth for life coaches for a while because my mindset wasn't there, I wasn't ready, he approached me and just said, "Sarah, how are you?" And I'm like, "Oh, good, great. Thanks for being here. Have a drink." And he's like, "No, I'm watching you. And I think we need to talk. Are you doing okay?"
Sarah Dawn: And I wasn't having it for a second. I took major offense to him noticing that I might not have it all together. And he could kick rocks as far as I was concerned. And so, I can relate to that. I can relate to not being ready to make any shifts. And I think that's why I can see it so easily in somebody else of I've been on that part of the path and I get it. I don't shame anybody for it, I've been there. But you have to be ready to actually make those big changes. Otherwise, you'll be fighting against your mentor versus working with them to create that new structure.
Lee Kantor: Right. And I think that's an important issue to deal with when it comes to coaching. If you're being coached, you have to be vulnerable and you have to be humble if you want it to work. I mean, otherwise you're just looking for someone to argue with and pay them a fee for that. Like it's not really moving the ball for you, but you think you're doing something and you're checking that box like, "Oh, I got a coach. It didn't work. Another thing that didn't work," and you're self-sabotaging.
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, yeah. And I was a lawyer. I mean, I could argue with anything, right? And actually, I highly encourage my clients, as part of onboarding, to take the DISC profile. Now, there's DISC, there's Enneagram, there's several different personality profiles. I love DISC. I have no affiliation with them, but I love DISC because in a work in leadership setting, it gives a really, really good idea on how controlling they are of the whole situation. That's the D level of DISC. And then, how open they are to any kind of change, which is the S. I immediately look at their D and S levels to say, are they going to need to control every bit of this process and how open are they to have any kind of change?
Sarah Dawn: And not just because of the DISC profile scores, they would also be a conversation. But I don't want somebody's money if we can't do anything. I need to be fulfilled by my work, too. So, if we can't make movement, if they can't open up, take some more time. I'll give some more resources for them to look into to decide that they're ready to come back around and really dive in.
Lee Kantor: Yeah, I find that a lot of coaches, they're hesitant to just use that true north and say, "Look, this is a good fit," or "It's not. And if it's not, let's not work together because it's not going to be good for either one of us." But a lot of people are so, the money part of it is so in front of them, it's hard for them to pass up money. But sometimes, the best thing to do is to just work with good fit, and everything will take care of itself. Your life becomes a lot easier rather than just forcing every client with every challenge into what you do, even though it may not be really what you do.
Sarah Dawn: Yeah, it may not be the best fit for either one of us. And it's kind of the same thought process, it's that expensive money. Just because you're a business coach or a consultant doesn't mean you're immune to the same problems that you help people with. So, those money issues can creep up for anybody. And it's really hard to turn away money. Even when it's good, it's hard to turn it away. But it can be really expensive money to chase and energetically expensive to take on those clients that you just can't move the needle for them.
Lee Kantor: So, now-
Sarah Dawn: Because it's not my work. It's not the coach's work that moves the needle. It's the client's work, with your guidance.
Lee Kantor: Well, that's the ultimate thing, though. The client has to want it more than you. Like if they don't want to do the work, unless they're just going to pay you to do work, which is a different service, then they can't work. It's just not going to work.
Sarah Dawn: It's like how much I want my child's room to be cleaned. It doesn't matter,
Lee Kantor: Right. Well, unless you're going to go and clean it, and then the child's trained you into cleaning their room.
Sarah Dawn: Exactly, exactly. Whole new service model there.
Lee Kantor: Now, talk me through the onboarding. So like, say, I come to you and I got a challenge, or I'm frustrated, or things aren't going my way, what does that first kind of conversation look like? What are some of the questions you're asking me? And how are you able to kind of see if it is going to work or not?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah. And that first conversation, I love for it to be casual and just really genuinely learning about the other person. How did they get into their business? What do they love about it? What aspects of the work they do that just really light them up and remind them, "Oh, yeah, this is the reason I started this work." And then, also, getting curious about what you procrastinate on all the time? What is always hitting the back burner, and then you're mad at yourself for it? What comes across your desk and you instantly can feel some resentment towards that being there? Tell me about your customers. Tell me about how you want to serve them and what the highest money making parts of your business are. Just getting really curious about all of that.
Sarah Dawn: And that doesn't even have to be an onboarding conversation. Any entrepreneur I meet, I just get giddy listening to all of that. But that gives me really great insight on where we need to make some changes or do they even know? Do we need to do a whole lot more work into just diving in on what's not working for them, what's not the money making activities?
Sarah Dawn: And then, I kind of follow that up with a set questionnaire that asks similar questions and then goes into, what are some measurable goals you would really like to reach in the next three months, the next six months? And see how realistically we can implement some strategy and get those goals met because, oftentimes, they'll have something that they want to reach in the next three months, but it's because it's been a goal on their list for the last two years, and something's just prevented them from getting to that.
Sarah Dawn: And then, that last piece is the DISC profile. I love to get it from the client themselves. If they have a team that's going to be integral to the work we do, I love to get the DISC profile from the employees and from the team too. I'm very, very cautious about that, though, because it can freak people out. Employees, it can really freak them out. And the last thing we want is to create a flight risk from their team while we're trying to make positive changes.
Lee Kantor: Right. Why is this person asking me these questions?
Sarah Dawn: And that's how they feel. Their team also feels fulfilled by their work. So, if somebody from the outside is coming in, they instantly have the question of, "Did I do something wrong? And then, now I have to take this personality test," that in their mind, "What if I fail it? And Sarah comes in and tells my boss I shouldn't be here?" And that's not how it works, but it's really hard to convince them that that's not how it works. So, I love to have that information. It really helps us structure things to be optimal for the team. We are so delicate about that, that there's trust there first, and excitement about the work we're doing first before we go throwing personality tests in front of team members.
Lee Kantor: Now, do you do most of your work with individual entrepreneurs or business leaders, or do you work with the entire teams?
Sarah Dawn: I've worked with entire teams. That is so fun to get everybody on board, but it has to start with that business owner/operator. And that's my ideal client, is the owner/operator. It's not an entrepreneur that just kind of threw their money into a business, and there's a whole different group. That's not really my niche. But those owners/operators that have a role within their business, but that role is just way too intense for them to keep creating and innovating to make the business grow. They need to get out of the weeds and be more of that kind of umbrella person than the critical employee in their own business.
Lee Kantor: Now, when you're working with that person, do you have a story you can share that maybe you've helped somebody go to a new level? Has that happened?
Sarah Dawn: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay, so one of one of my clients actually started as a solopreneur and was hitting a place in her business where she had more and more clients coming to her. She was a fitness coach. So, she had more and more clients coming to her, and she was maxed out, and she was getting to the point that she was rethinking whether her business would work for her or not, considering just completely kiboshing the whole idea and starting over because it's emotionally draining, especially like fitness, nutrition, that kind of thing. The clients need a lot from you emotionally as they go through their transformation. And she just didn't see how she could serve everybody she wanted to serve and have any level of her own mental health. So, every time she gave to a client, she was breaking down a little bit more.
Sarah Dawn: And within a year of work, I worked with her for about a year, a little bit more, maybe about a year and a half, and within a year, she went from this mindset that she was the only person that could ever serve her clients. There's no way she could ever hire one. So, she had a team of five. She had other coaches underneath her taking care of the client base. She was able to take her services at a premium price level and doubled her profit, not just revenue, but doubled her profit in that year just by looking at things more systematically and realizing that she wasn't the only person that could do what she did. She was the face of the company, and she was the innovator within the company, but she could train other skilled individuals to serve her client base. And that one was so much fun watching that transition go from a burned out solopreneur to the president of an actual company.
Lee Kantor: Now, you mentioned the niche of an owner/operator. Do you have a niece from an industry standpoint?
Sarah Dawn: I haven't had to narrow that down. And it's so fun when people with different industries come in. I've worked with several nutrition and fitness coaches. I've worked with salons, and aestheticians, and various cosmetologists. I've worked with attorneys and CPAs. And I've worked with artists, graphic designers, people in that kind of industry. So, I haven't needed to do that because the pain point has been the niche me. I'm operating this thing, and I need to get out of the weeds. And that pain point has been so specific, I've been able to apply this modality across the board.
Lee Kantor: Now, if somebody wants to learn more about your practice, or get on your calendars, is there a website?
Sarah Dawn: Yup. It is www.sarahdawnconsulting.com. And actually, when you go to my website, the very first thing you're going to see is a free tool to get you started on doing the work I do with my clients. It walks you through a week of itemizing what needs to come off of your plate and exactly how to do that without losing money in your business. And then, pretty soon, within days on that website is going to be a link to a new program that I have started called Bliss Business Mastery, where it takes the work I do one-on-one with people and lets me expand it in a course level with individual support to just reach more people to start doing, like I said, doing business better.
Lee Kantor: Well, Sarah, congratulations on all the success. You're doing important work, and we appreciate you.
Sarah Dawn: Thank you. I appreciate it, and I love being on here talking to you today.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on Coach the Coach Radio.