Many businesses and bloggers are still going it alone when they could be getting much better results much faster by working with someone who has whatever experience they lack.
It takes years to accumulate all the skills and to know how to prioritize what to work on to take your business to the next level regardless of where you are now.
Over the years some individuals become known for the breadth of their knowledge, willingness to share what they know, and ability to teach. This interview with eBusiness Coach Donna Fontenot is the first in a series of interviews of potential mentors for our readers to consider.
Q&A with Donna Fontenot aka DazzlinDonna ~ eBusiness Coach and Consultant on What We Should Know About Coaching and Consulting
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an eBusiness coach and consultant.
I started my life as an online entrepreneur in much the same way many others do; because I needed money. I’d been laid off when the company I worked for was closing their doors for good. I was currently working as a ColdFusion programmer. ColdFusion had been a popular Internet scripting language at the time, but by the time I was laid off, it was declining in popularity, as PHP was taking the online programming world by storm. I knew that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find another ColdFusion job in my area, so I started thinking of ways to pay the bills. I finally decided that I’d create a few ColdFusion scripts and try to sell them on the Internet.
2. So that was the start of fame and fortune for you?
Not even close! It was a miserable failure. My monthly average sales were about $50. It was, however, the start of many lessons I learned about making a living online. Those lessons were priceless. I just wish I’d known a few things ahead of time, so I could have learned those lessons a little more quickly.
3. Why didn’t you hire an eBusiness coach to help you avoid the failures?
Back in those early days, eBusiness coaches didn’t exist. I probably could have done a better job of finding an unofficial mentor, but I didn’t realize that might be an option.
4. Explain what an eBusiness coach and consultant does. For that matter, what’s the difference between a coach and a consultant?
I’ll start with the second part of that. A coach is someone who motivates, encourages, supports and applauds. A coach focuses on helping you find the strength and passion within you to achieve your goals. A consultant is someone who has the skills to define and outline specific paths and tasks. A consultant teaches you skills to accomplish goals and tasks, and can answer “how-to” questions that arise. Both of these are useful, so it’s often best to hire both, or hire someone who is a hybrid of both.
An eBusiness coach and consultant, then, is someone who provides motivation, support, and focus to help online entrepreneurs bring out the best within themselves, avoid distractions, overcome self-doubt, and become productive and passionate about their eBusiness. She also provides advice and expertise to help the entrepreneur tackle tasks that are outside of her current knowledge base. Ideally, an eBusiness coach and consultant is an outside objective observer who is capable of giving feedback, motivation, and expert advice that enables the entrepreneur to create and grow a successful online business.
5. What expertise do you bring to the table? What skills do you have that could help an eBusiness owner?
Over the years, I’ve educated myself about all the various aspects of running an online business. As I mentioned, I started out on the programming and scripting end of things. I thought of myself as a backend developer, and didn’t yet know anything about the front end. I didn’t know anything about design or usability, or SEO, or marketing, or sales. My first eBusiness failure occurred quite simply because I didn’t know any of those things. Luckily, over time, I realized which aspects of this business I lacked, and I set out to learn everything I could about each of them. I started with SEO. I’d quickly discovered that the old saying “Build it and they will come” did not apply here. The best website, the best product, and the best deal means absolutely nothing if no one knows about it. So I began learning what it would take to have my site appear on the first page of search engines when users were searching for the things I offered.
It was about this same time that I first called myself DazzlinDonna. I actually didn’t think I was so dazzling at the time. The name was coined simply because a friend of mine kept insisting that I take a more positive attitude about myself. (Remember, I was only making about $50/month at the time with my new business, so I was a little down on myself). To stop her nagging, I created a forum nickname of DazzlinDonna, never really intending to have it stick. However it did “stick”, and I’ve used the name ever since. “DazzlinDonna” became a name associated with SEO over time, as I learned and successfully implemented SEO, and then began giving back by teaching others what I’d learned. Over time, I also began learning all I could about usability, design, marketing, and sales. While I’m not an expert at everything, I am experienced with it all, which enables me to either teach what I know, or guide others to find the expert information they need. If you want to do some research on me, I’d suggest starting with my quick summary of myself, my Google Profile, or just do a simple Google search for either DazzlinDonna or Donna Fontenot.
6. So what would actually happen if someone hired you? What’s the process?
Part of that answer will depend upon the situation of each person I work with. Each person will be starting from a different point. Some may be experienced eBusiness owners but need to up their game. Others may be behind the starting line, and haven’t even decided which direction to take or what kind of eBusiness to start. And still others are somewhere in between those two ends of the eBusiness spectrum. Part of the process then, is determining where the entrepreneur is currently, and where the entrepreneur wishes to go. In fact, that’s a large part of the process. My goal is the client’s goal. We work together to uncover what her goals are, what resources she already possesses to obtain those goals, and what resources she needs to obtain to do so. The process itself goes something like this:
- Each week, at a mutually agreed upon time, we speak on the phone for approximately an hour. This personal, one-on-one phone session is designed to determine what goals need to be met, what activities and tasks are needed to meet those goals, and what obstacles or distractions need to be overcome to accomplish it.
- Each phone call is immediately followed up by a summary email that I send to the client. I take extensive notes during our call, and then summarize everything we discussed in the email. This accomplishes several things. It helps her remember each of the things we discussed, so that she can refer back at any time and refresh her memory. It outlines any goals, priorities, tasks, and next-step actions that we determined she needs to focus on, and it gives me an opportunity to bring everything we discussed into a focused, easy-to-digest, structured report.
- During the week, between phone sessions, the client has unlimited access to me via email. Any questions she has, any clarifications she needs, any support or motivation she requires, can be met even though her next phone call may be several days away. I do my best to reply to emails as soon as possible; usually within a few minutes. However, if I’m helping another client, working on my own projects, or simply away from my desk, I may take a little longer to reply, but clients can count on me replying just as soon as I possibly can.
7. What are some specific examples of ways you can help an online entrepreneur?
Some of the advice, motivation, and guidance I’ve given includes:
- Assessment of personal strengths, self-doubts, and fears
- Assessment and viability of eBusiness ideas
- Help in determining eBusiness name and logo
- Advice on the structure and design of the website
- Discussion and guidance in determining an eBusiness model (service, product, ad revenue, affiliate, reseller, dropship, Adsense)
- Expert advice on steps to take in building the website
- Guidance and help in testing the website
- Thoughts and discussion for expanding a current eBusiness
8. What type of client do you usually coach?
All types, actually! I’ve coached well-known, highly successful online entrepreneurs, successful mom-and-pop businesses that wanted to reach new levels, and individuals who only had a dream but no plan and nothing in place. Anyone, at any stage, can learn, improve, and reach new levels of success. There’s no must-have starting point. Wherever you are is a good place to start.
9. Where can we get more information about your service?
You can get more details at my eBusiness Coaching and Consulting website. eBuzzCoach.com lets you hear my voice as I tell you a little more about the service. I think hearing me speak gives you at least a little insight into who you’ll be placing your trust, and of course, there’s plenty of written material to get more information about me and the service itself.
Donna’s Blog – Making a Living Online
I install and set up blogs. Want one?
Download Donna’s free HTML5 templates
Hire Donna as your eBusiness Coach
UPDATE from GrowMap: Why should you listen to Donna? Her post about the upcoming Social Media Marketing event is one of the top selling links. I believe that is because of her copywriting skill. What she wrote encourages her readers to want to attend.
Find out what she can teach you to benefit your site or business.