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A business coach is different things to different people, but to Bethesda’s Diane Yochelson, it’s all about changing a client’s mindset.
Yochelson started her Peak Impact business consulting firm in 2011, shortly after she became a certified Professional Business Coach in 2010.
Her clients are mainly those in the service industry — financial planners, lawyers, insurance companies, small real estate firms and other business consultants — having trouble generating profit, finding new leads or making time for life outside work.
“The role of the coach is to help the client shift perspective,” Yochelson said. “It’s to say, ‘Let’s start peeling back the onion at various layers and understand what happened that time things went bad.’ It’s to understand what went wrong, how it went wrong and how you can change it.”
Yochelson worked on the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee before going into commercial real estate. She moved back to Bethesda in 2008 after a seven-year stint in San Diego and got into the idea of business coaching while working with a career coach.
“I was so blown away by the impact it’s had on me and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Yochelson said. “I found I missed the business side of things. I was an entrepreneur and in building my own business I started learning what it took and saw it wasn’t easy.”
The certification alone wasn’t enough to attract clients. So Yochelson studied marketing and sales techniques and brought some with her from her commercial real estate days.
She typically has 10 clients at a time, and can work with clients around the world for any number of weeks or months through Skype chats or on the phone. She’s currently working with a client in France. She’s had clients in Los Angeles, Colorado and New York, as well as ones in the D.C. area.
Her speciality is in finding ways for small business owners who have hit walls to find new leads.
She’s working with a client now who hates going to networking events. So they examined the types of events he’s going to make sure he’s targeting the right audience for potential clients. They role played exactly how a typical conversation might go.
“He’s had some bad experiences with it before but we were able to pull out of the role playing that he was networking in the wrong place for his target market, so he already felt uncomfortable,” Yochelson said. “He’s also introverted, so we talked about his perceptions of going to a networking event. If you go in thinking, ‘I’m going to collect five cards and then I’m done and never going to follow up,’ then don’t waste your time. If you take a deep breath and realize, ‘I might meet some nice people tonight. I don’t know if I’m going to get business out of this, but we’ll see what the future brings,’ than you’re going to be more productive.”
In that way, Yochelson acts as a sounding board for frustrations of business owners, then looks for ways to lead those clients past any roadblocks, either real or imagined.
“A lot of this negative self-talk is what holds people back,” Yochelson said. “A coach is there to sort of waive the flag and say, ‘Of course you can do it, and here’s what’s holding you back.’”