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Coaching for Small Business Owners

Beth Interactive is a digital marketing and e-fundraising agency in Chicago specializing in online strategy and consultation, healthcare marketing, e-philanthropy, email marketing, search engine optimization, web analytics, and website design/writing/management. Founder and CEO Beth Hatcher engaged Belle Walker directly for coaching.

Success Leads to Growing Pains

Digital marketing specialist Beth Hatcher founded Beth Interactive in 2010. She went on to build an impressive client roster, including hospitals, healthcare foundations, and other nonprofits, along with a team that included three other skilled marketing and fundraising professionals.

Like many successful small-business owners, though, Beth eventually experienced growing pains. In 2019, she began working with Belleview Consulting principal Belle Walker.

“I wasn’t looking for an organizational growth coach; I wasn’t even sure what I needed,” Beth says. “But in talking with Belle, I liked that she could offer a fresh perspective. She had the right level of distance to be able to see things more clearly than anyone on our team could.”

Challenges in Preparing for Growth

During their first conversation, Beth and Belle discussed what growth might look like for Beth Interactive. Beth was struggling to figure out how big she wanted her firm to get as well as the types of clients and engagements to pursue.

Properly staffing for future growth was another key concern. Could Beth bring on new employees without sacrificing quality control? What was the next role she needed to fill? How should the firm be structured for the long haul? How could she help her employees grow professionally and reach their potential?

Finally, Beth had worked hard to create a company culture built on collaboration, transparency and a commitment to consistently exceptional work. “I knew that if we weren’t careful, we could lose those things,” she says. “I wanted to make sure we could grow appropriately and hold onto those cultural components.”

Understanding the Corporate Culture

Belle’s first coaching goal was to gain a thorough understanding of the Beth Interactive culture. To that end, she walked through a series of detailed questions with Beth, who also gathered input from her colleagues on what elements of the culture should be preserved moving forward.

These findings gave Belle valuable insights into Beth’s (and her team members’) vision for the future of the firm. For one, maintaining elements like work/life balance and the tight-knit environment mattered more than rapid growth.

“Belle recognizes that growth is subjective — it doesn’t look the same for everyone,” Beth says. “She knows my husband and I have two young children and that I’m not looking to become the biggest business in the world. I appreciate that she always keeps in mind what’s important to me and my team.”

An ‘a-ha’ Moment

With Belle’s coaching, a clear picture also emerged around how growth should occur. “We want to work with clients with whom we can form long-term, strategic partnerships that allow us to deliver real value,” Beth says. “It’s also crucial that we can connect with clients not just on a professional level, but also personally.”

As a small business grows, however, the owner often faces the conundrum of how to handle more work without relinquishing personal accountability for quality control. Such was the case with Beth Interactive. If Beth were to remain intimately involved on every last client deliverable, significant, sustained growth would be impossible. She had to learn how to delegate her responsibilities to others.

“Hearing I was the biggest limiting factor to our growth was a real ‘a-ha’ moment for me,” Beth says.

Rising to the Challenge

That revelation opened her eyes to the benefits of better allocating workloads among team members. For example, she chose to hire a dedicated copywriter, which freed up another employee to focus on strategy work and client relations. Now that she has assistance with these responsibilities, Beth can spend more time on priorities like business development, building relationships, and speaking at conferences and webinars.

“If we’re going to take on new clients, how do we prepare ourselves to rise to the challenges? Belle has helped us figure that out,” Beth says. “She’s also brought more structure around performance assessments so that employees are aware of their capabilities and have clearly defined expectations for their performance.”

More Confidence in the Firm’s Direction

Beth has added one employee to her team so far and continues to focus on delegating responsibilities and optimizing employee performance. She is now working with her team on hiring a sixth full-time employee and Belle’s coaching is helping her up her management game and improving team efficiency.

“Thanks to Belle, we’ve found clients who are a better long-term fit and solidified partnerships around those goals,” Beth says. “I’ve also discovered new ways to encourage team members at all skill levels.

“Belle has helped me — as a manager, a leader, an entrepreneur, and in the business development role — to clarify a path forward. Our team is stronger, our goals are clearer, and Belle has been instrumental in helping it all happen.”

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