Posts tagged ‘business planning’

August 14, 2008

Am I an Entrepreneur?

Businesses fail, and often. If you think you want to run your own business, but are not sure you can be a successful Entrepreneur, I am glad you are thinking about it… keep reading. How does an Entrepreneur think, act, and respond? Is your personality a fit for being a successful Entrepreneur? Do you have what it takes?

 

Until recently, Entrepreneurs were not well thought of. As recent as the 80’s we looked on them as un-educated business men involved in shady dealings. There was a general lack of knowledge and information about what makes them successful.

 

Big business was the place to be, now that’s all changed. Our generation and the ones after us expect so much more from our career/work than our parents did. We want money, satisfaction, self expression and flexible hours such as a 4 day work week and tele-commuting. We have more small businesses than ever before in our U.S. history. In addition, smaller businesses are now attracting great employees and competing with the corporate world by offering those employees exactly what they want.

 

Today we have books, courses and business coaches in abundance. Some universities now offer courses and degrees in entrepreneurship. Business professionals have vast resources and as a whole we have learned a lot about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. I realize there is probably no such thing as the perfect entrepreneurial profile, I have noticed that there are many characteristics that seem to show up repeatedly in my work as a business coach. So from my work with hundreds of entrepreneurs as a coach and trainer, this is my summary.

Successful Entrepreneurs are, have, or do…

Available – In small businesses, where there is no depth of management, the owner must be present to win. They can’t afford a support staff to cover all business roles, and therefore need to either work long hours; have very talented people or both.

Self-Motivated – Entrepreneurs do not function well in structured organizations and do not like someone having authority over them. Rules, bureaucracy and politics frustrate them. This is often what leads them to start their own business. They enjoy creating business strategies and thrive on the process of achieving their goals. Once they obtain a goal, they quickly move to a greater goal. They constantly look to the future vision of the business. They have a compelling drive to do their own thing in their own way. They value freedom over money.

 

Well-Being – Successful Entrepreneurs are physically sound and in good health. They can work for extended periods of time as needed. They understand the relationship between a healthy body and a sharp mind.

 

Practical-Pragmatic – Entrepreneurs can accept what is and what is not and deal with issues accordingly. They may or may not be idealistic, but they are rarely unrealistic. They want to know the facts and condition of a given situation at all times. They may be too trusting (because they are often idealist) and may not be sufficiently skeptical in their business dealings with other people.

 

Embrace Ambiguity – Entrepreneurs identify problems and begin working on their solution faster than other people. Uncertainty does not bother them because their Healthy Ego feels challenged and likes to solve problems. They are the natural “go to” person in the group or business.

 

Intelligence – Successful Entrepreneurs think fast on their feet. They can comprehend complex problems and circumstances that may require planning, strategy, or working on multiple business ideas at once. They have vision and are aware of important factors to consider. They are open minded and will consider different perspectives. They seem flexible and are not afraid to change direction when failing.

 

Healthy Ego – Entrepreneurs are confident when they feel in control of what they’re doing and often like to work alone. They tackle problems head on and quickly with confidence. They are persistent in problem solving and are not afraid of smart risks. They do well with adversity, because they thrive on their own level of confidence. Someone saying or thinking they can’t pull it off doesn’t bother them at all.

 

Urgency – Entrepreneurs have a sense of urgency. They have drive and high energy levels, they are achievement-oriented, and they are tireless in the pursuit of their goals.  Idleness makes them impatient, on edge, and anxious. They thrive on activity and are not likely to be found at the nail salon or golf course. When they are in the entrepreneurial mode, they are more likely to be found getting things done instead of all the other “to-do’s.”

 

Emotional Stability – Successful Entrepreneurs can handle stress and are even having fun! They are challenged rather than discouraged by setbacks or failures. Entrepreneurs are surprisingly uncomfortable when things are going well. This is when they will probably find a new project on which to focus their creative energy.

 

Ability to let go – Entrepreneurs are not always the best “people” people. They are often impatient and drive themselves and everyone around them. They also resist delegating key decisions or responsibilities. My favorite coaching question for the Entrepreneur is “who can help you with this?” It shakes them up every time.  It is not uncommon for the Entrepreneur to do the books, drive business development and buy the office supplies.

 

As the business grows and becomes an organization, Entrepreneurs go through a classic crisis (this is usually when they call us). They have become the bottle neck; their want for control has made it hard for them to hand over authority in the way that a growing business demands. Their strong direct approach makes them more likely to seek information directly from the source, bypassing the structured chains of authority and responsibility. Their interpersonal skills, which were adequate during the start-up phase, will cause them problems as they try to adjust and free themselves from the day to day operations. Cash flow, retention and low morale are symptoms of this issue.

 

 

Do you recognize yourself? Did you locate your likely strengths as an Entrepreneur? Did you identify potential barriers to your success? Awareness matters here. Focus on your strengths, be aware of your weaknesses and go for it!

 

 

Author Alicia Fruin–Owner of Profit Consulting Co., Alicia has become a leader in the field of coaching, consulting and training for small business. She has designed more than 80 custom training programs for hundreds of business owners in a variety of industries across the country. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales professionals on how to build a business truly worth having! www.profitconsultingco.com

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August 5, 2008

Finding the right Business Coach

Step #1 – Be clear about what you want. A good Business Coach is going to ask what it is that you want. While it may seem elementary, not everyone knows the answer to this question! Most people are not used to being asked what they want in life or in work. If it will help, start by listing all the things you know you do NOT want – and go from there. People hire coaches either because they want more of something or less of something else—or because they are facing a personal or professional dilemma. Still, others see something about coach that attracts them, whether they can articulate what that may be, or not.  The job of a coach is to model a great life and business!

Step #2 – Understand that Coaching is all about you! Coaching is about your life, your work, your goals, your needs, your desires, your dreams, your values, etc. – and NOT about the Coach’s life, work, goals, needs, desires, dreams, values, etc. This is your time and your space – and a trained and qualified coach is going to make this all about you! I like to think of it as offering my client a “sacred space” wherein they can come to share any and every thing on their mind and heart. In addition, like a fitting room, clients can try on new ideas like trying on a new suit of clothing – without fear of recrimination, competition, or judgment.

 

Step #3Interview More Than One Coach and have your own list of Questions Ready…The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is finding someone with whom you feel you can easily relate in order to create and the most powerful partnership possible. Here are some questions you may want to ask prospective coaches: What is your coaching experience? (number of individuals you have coached, years of experience, types of situations, etc.); What is your coach specific training?  Do you hold an ICF or WABC Credential? Are you enrolled in an ICF Accredited Training Program? What are your coaching specialties or client areas you most often work in? What specialized skills or experience do you bring to your coaching? What is your philosophy about coaching? What is your specific process for coaching? (how sessions are conducted, frequency, etc.). What are some coaching success stories? (specific examples of individuals who have done well and examples of how you have added value). What is the average length of time you work with clients? What are your fees and how are they normally paid?

 

Step #4 – Retain your new Coach! 

When you are ready to retain the business coach that you have selected, be ready to do some work!  Most coaches will have you read over and sign a “Coaching Agreement” form that specifies the specifics you both have agreed upon with regard to the number and length of sessions per month; the initial duration of the coaching agreement; the agreed upon fee, etc. You may also be asked to sign a credit card authorization form to make convenient payments.

 

 

www.profitconsultingco.com

Alicia Fruin – Business Coach

August 5, 2008

Being “Open for business”

I have great admiration for small business owners. I love their entrepreneurial spirit, pioneering attitude, perseverance and strength. I am lucky enough to work with them daily as their business coach.

 

Through my role as coach, I am honored to witness courage in so many ways. The courage to expand and grow, the courage to ask for money, the courage to go after the big account, the courage to hire and fire when needed.

 

If you have never been an entrepreneur or known one, these activities might not seem like a big deal. In the beginning stages, small business owners are grappling with what they feel they can or cannot do. Their businesses are literally limited by their own self perception. For example: an owner who wants to double their revenue might have to learn how to let go and leverage themselves through others. So it makes sense that most entrepreneurs have to personally grow and develop themselves to move their businesses forward. Enter the business coach versus a consultant. A consultant is the expert and they advise.

 

So “What’s a business coach?” you ask? A business coach engages and facilitates focused dialogue. We challenge, inquire, provoke, cajole, inspire, offer support and collaborate with our clients on their business issues. Occasionally we give advice and consult a client when it is an area of expertise. Most of the time however, it is not about my wisdom. It is about the client’s wisdom. Coaches believe that the client has the answer.

 

Back to my point, in most cases the entrepreneur’s limiting beliefs are what is stopping the business from expanding. As limiting beliefs are identified the small business owner can see and be aware of new possibilities allowing for more awareness and choice. Finally this brings me to the title of the article. Are you “open for business”?

 

When we are “closed for business,” we already know how the business is, how our industry is and how our customers are, leaving no possibility or room for something else. Where there is certainty there is no possibility. We become frustrated and stuck.

 

Being “open for business” is about being aware of what your biases, limitations and limiting beliefs (filters) are and not letting that mindset run your business. When we are “open for business” we find opportunities and solve problems easily.  Okay, how do I do that” you say?

 

First get clear about your own filters by talking to a coach, asking your staff, interviewing your spouse or working with a mentor and then write them all down.

 

The next step is to identify how these filters have you stuck or stopped in your business. How do your limiting beliefs impact your business and its employees?

 

Then, make sure that you stay “open for business” by being engaged in conversations about your business with someone who knows what your filters are and is willing to say something when they come up. This could be an employee, partner, spouse, friend, mentor or coach.

 

You will be amazed at the difference this one shift from closed to open can make for your profitability and your sense of well being.

 

About the Author Alicia Fruin

 

Alicia is the owner of Profit Consulting Co., a business Education Company. They offer small business coaching, consulting and training. Alicia has designed over 80 customized training programs and led these programs for hundreds of business owners around the country in a variety of industries.  In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales people on how to build a business truly worth having!

 

www.profitconsultingco.com

August 5, 2008

Business is a game

 

As a business coach on occasion I find it helpful to remind my clients to lighten up. I’ll say something like, “It’s a game; this won’t matter on your death bed.” As business owners it can be tempting to lose ourselves in the issue of the day, week or month. We forget that it is not a life or death situation. Okay, we could be on the verge of losing our business or maybe a really big account but these are the moments that perspective may be our most powerful edge. Remembering that business is a game could give you the mental and emotional acuity needed to get you through the rough patches we all experience.

 

Let me say more about business being a game. Just like a game there are rules, lots of them: your rules, industry rules, cultural rules, government rules and more. In regards to keeping your perspective, your rules are the ones that matter the most. Here are some rules that I recommend:

 

1. Play the game of business to win “as if” your life is at stake and then toss your head, smile and laugh when it doesn’t work out.

2. Have fun whenever possible, smile a lot.

3. Keep your physical, spiritual, emotional and mental reserves full for the game by exercising, praying, reading positive books, nurturing your relationships and getting rest. Of all the rules, this is the most important. Would a world class athlete show up exhausted, spent and mentally unprepared?

 4. Learn basic business principles in the areas of finance, marketing, organizational development and operations. Then master the basics.

 

In business we are essentially playing two games at once, the internal game (the real game) and the external game (the worldly game). The external game is your daily business practices and your business model. The internal game (invisible) is about being positive, having integrity, being focused, present and aware, expressing your vision and being mentally clear about what you want. As you can see, the rules I recommend are for both games.

 

The first three rules are for the internal game. Rule number 4 addresses the external game. If we play the external game and forget about the internal game we will be reactive, experience stress, get stuck, neglect our bodies and our loved ones and lose complete sight of the fact that it is a game after all. If we only play the internal game and forget about playing the external game we will neglect to master the basics of business and be very happy but unsuccessful in business. Unfortunately, I have noticed very few people have the latter problem.

 

So how do you start applying the principles above? I recommend that you sit down and write your rules for the game of business. You will want rules for the internal and the external game. Then create your ideal day, week, month and year on paper or in your calendar. You want to be able to see how a master would operate. This is your gap. Now what? Get a coach, mentor, teacher, guru, whatever is right for you. These concepts are simple not easy.

 

About the Author Alicia Fruin

 

Alicia is the owner of Profit Consulting Co., a business Education Company. They offer small business coaching, consulting and training. Alicia has designed over 80 customized training programs and led these programs for hundreds of business owners around the country in a variety of industries.  In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales people on how to build a business truly worth having!

 

www.profitconsultingco.com

 

 

August 5, 2008

A Successful Recipe for Accountability

Accountability is a buzzword in the business world right now. Unfortunately, most of us have negative understanding of the word. We often use the word as if it means blame and punishment. Therefore, we attempt to avoid it. The truth is that accountability is unavoidable. In the workplace, intrinsically everyone is accountable to someone. We are accountable to our peers, managers, customers and ownership. We are also accountable to our industry.

 

What if being accountable was empowering for you and your employees? Research indicates that rather than a negative force, holding people accountable for their actions and results has very positive effects on morale and performance. An environment of accountability produces vigilant problem solving, better decision-making, and greater job satisfaction. With an environment of accountability, people can develop their skills and be their best.

 

The issue I see with accountability is not the absence of accountability in business. Accountability exists regardless. The issue is how we think of and understand accountability and the environment under which accountability can thrive.

 

Consider these definitions of accountability:

·        Accountability is a state of responsiveness.

·        To be called on to render an account.

·        Subject to giving an account.

·        Non–judgmental feed back (Accountability is no place for judgment, blame or punishment).

 

Here are some areas to troubleshoot in your workplace:

·        Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability, so your first step, as a manager is to make sure that the people you are holding accountability have very clearly defined roles, job descriptions and duties.

·        Accountability is an attitude so look at yourself as the role model. Are you being accountable to your boss, ownership, your employees and clients?

·        Do you have written expectations? Starting at the time of hire, if possible, review written expectations and standards of performance. You cannot expect something from someone who has not had the opportunity to buy into the expectation.  

·        Do you have Permission; either implied or granted.

·       Do they have training? You cannot hold someone accountable to something they are not been trained to do!

·       Do your employees have a working plan – a project timeline, an economic model etc?

·        Have I created a learning based environment? Is it okay to make a mistake or say, “I don’t know?” Know it alls do not make good coaches nor are they coach-able. Creating a safe environment for mistakes encourages accountability.

·        Are there real consequences? Consequences work best when spelled out before actually needed, in expectations for example.

·        Do your employees have the talent and ability? Some people will not have the ability to do the job you are asking them to do regardless of having a well-defined role, a great manager and excellent training.

·        Accountability is an attitude that you as leader will want to model; focus on being accountable rather than holding others accountable.

 

 

 

About the Author Alicia Marie Fruin

www.profitconsultingco.com 

 

Alicia Marie is the owner of Profit Consulting Co., A small business education company that provides business coaching, consulting and training. Alicia has designed over 80 training programs and led custom training programs for hundreds of businesses in various industries. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales people in how to build a business truly worth having!

August 5, 2008

A Healthy Relationship with failure

Some people have the notion that if they “Can’t do it right, they won’t do it at all.”

 

In my opinion, this is a strategy to avoid the possibility and likelihood of failure. I find that ironic since failure is inevitable.  If you are playing the game of business at all, it will happen. You will fail. Every choice, effort and move you make has to line up just right to get your intended outcome. It makes sense that it will not happen at times.

 

As a business coach, I have noticed that people who are very accomplished have a healthy relationship with failure. They embrace it, watch for it, learn from their mistakes and move on. Sometimes they even publicize their failures, modeling the kind of leadership they want to see in their employees. They seem to know that who they are is not their results.

 

Most of us only see these high powered, accomplished individuals when they are in the public and enjoying some success. We do not see the every day struggles, disappointments and failures. On the phone weekly with my clients, I have a privileged point of view. I hear the hesitation, the pain, the disappointment as well as the wins, successes and accomplishments.

 

Accomplished people seem to understand some simple truths that they are not their mistakes and they are not their behaviors. Both of those are changeable. They seem to understand that who we are as human beings is constant. They are people who can fall down, smile, pick themselves up and keep going. They also know in their heart that when they fail at something, they are not a failure. When they make a mistake, they are not a mistake. When they do something wrong, they are not wrong.

 

 

I have also noticed that successful people seem less unlikely to avoid their feelings such as rejection, suffering, self-doubt, fear, depression and dissatisfaction. One of my clients Joe would say, “It’s just part of the ride. It is normal to have fear sometimes, to feel lost sometimes, and to be disappointed. I wouldn’t trade any of this for a dull cubicle and a steady paycheck.” Confident people understand that mastery is a succession of failures, not wins. They understand that you have to be bad at something and keep going to master it.  Failure and success are events. Whatever emotion or circumstance has been stopping you; I encourage you to go for it.

 

Alicia Fruin

Business Trainer and Coach

Profit Consulting Co.

www.profitconsultingco.com

August 4, 2008

Working on your business

Most business owners are great at doing something.

Maybe you can create great graphic designs or cook well or maybe you have an eye for art? Somewhere along the way, you have taken what you are great at and turned it into a business.

If you have been successful at selling your product or your services, your business has likely grown over time, so you need more employees, more space, defined process and systems, and you probably need a vacation.

Because you have been a great designer, handyman or sales person there can be a strong pull to keep doing that work even after your business has grown after all its what you love to do, it is what you are good at. This is an example of working in your business. This happens to most if not all small business owners at one stage or another.

You may feel overwhelmed and overworked because you’re trying to take care of all areas in your business (making sales, your finances, customer service issues, even cleaning the toilets, etc).

You are like a one- man show even when there are people there working for you! This scenario is typical but it is not healthy for either you, your employees or the growth of your business. Why? Because you can only grow as big as your own ability to handle, everything and you most likely need to get a life.

Its time to stop working in your business as a technician and start working on your business as an owner!

Here are a few steps to get you started. Take a hard look at yourself and ask whether you are working in your business or on it.

·        Ask yourself “what are the two most important areas for me to focus on?” Are you sure? Are these in or on the business issues?

·        Now spend two hours a day at a minimum focusing on your top two “on the business issues”.

·        Make a commitment to remove yourself from repetitive tasks and assign them to competent employees.

·        You may need to redefine job descriptions, roles and accountabilities.

·        Be accountable to someone like a business coach or a key employee on a regular basis about the time you spend working on your business.

Working on your business will include activities such as;

·        Strategic planning for the next few years

·        Anticipating industry trends and positioning your company

·        Documenting business operating systems

·        Writing and implementing your marketing plan

·        Budgets and projections, recruiting and hiring key employees, evaluating your company culture.

·        Creating a plan for the culture you want and seeing it implemented

·        Networking in your community

·        Training for you and your employees

 

These are the activities that will keep your business healthy and growing, allowing your employees to thrive and develop. Best of all bringing you more time, freedom and probably more money!

 

Alicia Marie
Business Coaching and Training
Profit Consulting Co
512-989-2230

 

Recommended reading – E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

August 4, 2008

Real Power

So what is real power, what is the nature of power? How do we access power? When do we feel powerless? Is there a difference between real power and conventional power? Dwelling in these questions has in and of itself affected my life. When I ask these questions, I am filled with insights into my own internal and external motivations. It is my intention to share these insights here and to leave you knowing that you already have all that it takes to be authentically powerful!

 

It seems part of our confusion about power is in the different meanings we have for power and how we view power.

 

So, “What is power”? The conventional view is typically expressed as control, authority, status or strength. Often, when using the word power, we have in mind the idea of controlling the actions of someone or something. We speak of will power or controlling our behavior or controlling our children, etc.

 

In George Orwell’s 1984, the main character Winston (I named my oldest son after him) is considering the control based society in which he lives and comes to the realization, “they can make you do and say anything but they can’t make you believe it.” So perhaps power, viewed as control is an illusion.

 

Frequently we mean strength when we use the word power.

We refer to physically strong people as powerful. We might call a nation powerful based on its military strength. In other words, the ability to inflict harm by a person, group or nation. At its very core all this is, is intimidation, bullying and it generates fear. So perhaps power, as strength is an illusion.

 

Power as authority? Most of our society is set up as such. We all know that just because someone has authority, it does not give them power. How many figureheads have we seen in large companies? How many times have we “pulled rank” on our children “because I said so!” just to have it backfire on us later?

 

What we have learned and often teach our children is that by virtue of position, people in authority have power. For example: teachers, parents, and police officers. Power through authority, an illusion maybe? At its best, it is not consistently effective or sustainable. I would also say that this belief system leaves the vast majority of us feeling powerless!

 

Climbing the ladder of success? This is the one I believe to be the most addictive, the attempt to find a suitable place for ourselves within a hierarchy or ranking system. Could be in our neighborhood, could be in the PTA, could be at your place of business, or even within your family. Ranking or status can be based on wealth, prestige and physical attributes. Look at how we revere our athletes or education, a PhD behind your name, now there is power.

 

See if you recognize yourself just a little here: “If I could just have some of these attributes like more education, more beauty or more money, I could have the power to control circumstances to my advantage; others will look up to me. I will feel happy and accepted.”

 

My definition of real power: Real power is about being able to transform results into a sustainable reality. It is also the capacity to translate your intention into reality. Webster’s definition, which I also like… the ability to act or produce an effect.

 

Conventional power has us react to life in fear, seeking control, force or status, hiding behind all the things we are not, the notion or belief in conventional power is in and of itself what holds you back from experiencing real power.

 

We have all experienced real power before. Some of us daily, some of us have moments at a time and others of us even less often. Take a moment and remember your last experience of real power. What were the qualities or circumstances of that experience?

 

Real power is identifiable by its absence of fear. Imagine the power of someone who is no longer ruled by fear, someone who is, therefore, immune to manipulation and control by others, someone who has moved to a new level of awareness. Imagine the quiet confidence and power of someone who is no longer addicted to the approval and affirmation of others, someone who is in touch with his or her real self. Imagine that this person is whole and complete even without their job, or their family or their status. Now imagine that this person with this quiet confidence, this person who no longer needs approval is you, think about it, what would life be like? What could you do in your business? Now imagine what you could do in your life!

 

Alicia Fruin – Owner of Profit Consulting Co.

Specializing in business education, all of our programs combine solid business strategy coupled with our expertise of how people learn and grow.

August 4, 2008

Well-Being: The missing ingredient to success!

Well-being is commonly used in philosophy to describe what is ultimately good for a person. Well-being is both subjective and personal.

 

I am so fortunate to work daily with successful, talented and passionate business owners! They are driven, have vision, work ethic and a strong moral compass. Far too often, their extreme business focus has left them unbalanced and often unhealthy. The effects are everywhere, in their relationships, their environment, and their finances and yes even their beloved business. Everyone around them sees the tired eyes with dark circles, the extra weight, not to mention the stressed out, adrenaline crazed look on their face.

 

Yes, we all see it, the employees, customers, the spouse, the children, and yours truly the business coach. In a very dignified way, my clients share their full schedules and often dialogue with me for strategic time saving techniques. Behind the words, the pragmatic tone, the professional guise, it seems as though they are really saying “please, I can’t take one more thing, I am exhausted, spent, when is it my time? HELP, I need space.” Through the telephone, I seem to be able to hear the quiet desperation behind each business conversation.

 

Maybe not the first call or even the first month but it isn’t long before I go there. “Tell me about how you take care of yourself?” or “How do you re-energize and stay focused?” I say. A loud silence follows then a muffled stutter “Well I took my kids to the zoo last month, ummm I guess I get my energy from work, ummm, that’s all I seem to do?” long sigh.

 

Remember these are highly intelligent, powerful and successful people, so of course, their employees do not say anything. Ditto for their spouses…maybe a thoughtful friend says a word or two about possibly needing time off but no one really says what everyone is thinking…take time off, you look awful, or even better you than me!

 

I understand. I really do, I own a small business too. The to-do list is never ending! Add to that the value we place as a society on self-sacrificing hard work, making money, getting ahead. Even the value “family first” can leave a well-meaning person feeling drained.

 

We all know we need to move our bodies and eat well to thrive physically. Add to that prayer or meditation for your spirit and mind. Let us not leave out loving relationships for our emotional well-being. So why is well–being seemingly expendable? Is the payoff worth the cost?

 

Each call I chip away at my hard working clients…getting them to take time off here and find some space there. Maybe they decide to go for a morning walk or stop drinking soda. Sometimes they just need permission from someone and make dramatic changes on their own. Always, Always, Always it elevates their business in both profit and productivity.

 

If you recognize yourself here, I ask that you use the same intelligence, creative spirit and drive that you used to start your business and take care of yourself. Trust that other entrepreneurs have taken the well-being challenge as well and have greatly improved their businesses but more importantly their lives!

 

Alicia Fruin

Business Coach

www.ProfitConsultingCo.com