We all need coaches and guides when it comes to our careers, finances, personal lives, wardrobes, and images; especially during difficult times.
Having just the right coach or mentor can make the difference between floundering and succeeding to meet even your most lofty goals. This is why professional athletes keep trusted coaches in their corner and also why these four remarkable female business owners have not only pivoted during COVID-19, they have expanded their reach and not just survived, and even clearly thrived!
Inspiring business owners — Marina Stamos, Dawn Santoriello, Felicia Shanken, and Brigid McGrath Stasen — are true role models who have many vital life lessons for us on how to find the ‘Silver Linings’ as we continue to navigate the choppy waters of COVID-19.
For many of us, our families and business lives were put on pause or lockdown at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. Now, after nearly seven months, we are still dealing with social distancing, wearing masks, virtual learning for our children, and numerous Zoom calls and webinars that have temporarily replaced in-person workshops and conferences; the way we were formerly accustomed to connecting with colleagues and prospective clients.
With an estimated 100,000 U.S. small businesses permanently closing their doors since March, these female entrepreneurs used their gumption, determination, fortitude, and moxie to find new ways to serve current, new, and future clients.
Their ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, creativity, tenacity, and hard work, are sure to help us as a blueprint for our own personal and career journey.
Please take inspiration from their stories and use their journeys as a roadmap for your success in business, and in life!
CEO, Marina Stamos Business Coaching
Founded in 2017 – 19 years of overall business experience
Business coaching is clearly a labor of love for Marina Stamos, who has been encouraging entrepreneurs and business owners for nearly two decades. She enjoys every step of the process, even the more difficult aspects. So much so that she has been able to help clients who have been stuck for months, and even years.
I love taking my clients from feeling overwhelmed, stuck, and wondering when their life is really going to start — and guiding them to a new understanding of how to make money in their business,” explains Stamos.
“When a client of mine has just had their first financial win – one that had eluded them for months or even years, there is no better feeling. I get an email that is exploding with smiley faces and exclamation points.”
She also appreciates that her clients who represent a wide range of financial backgrounds. “I love that I do this for people who are having their first $10,000 year as well as people who are already having a $2 million or $40 million year, but have hit a snag and need a new strategy on how to monetize their idea.”
She discovered business coaching 15 years after working for others or in a traditional consulting capacity and knew it was time to start her own business.
“From the moment I heard about [business coaching] I loved how it allowed me to productize my knowledge, have a mostly laptop lifestyle, and make my knowledge more accessible and affordable to business owners,” she says. “I knew I could serve so many more people with this model!”
She is a testament that each of us can use our gifts and talents to pivot and reinvent ourselves during good times and bad. Stamos had a rich background in real estate and is an Emmy-nominated former TV news producer.
“I have fulfilled my dream that I get to use these skills to serve self-employed women, (and men), and turn their dreams and passions into a profitable business that serves people at such a high level.
So, exactly how does it help her clients? They have a new understanding of what really makes them appealing to their clients,” she says. “When they understand this, they attract clients who really get them and are excited to work with them.”
For those who may be uncertain about exactly what business coaches bring their clients, Stamos is ready to clear the air.
“I teach my clients the right thing to say, and who to say it to. I teach them the power of using their personal stories,” she explains. “It is also about how to make their value known in one minute or less. This is key. It’s not an elevator pitch. It’s a way of going from zero to a new client in one minute. Today’s hyper-saturated markets demand this kind of laser communication skill.”
“Finally,” Stamos added, “I teach clients how to stop being afraid of the word “sales.” I had to overcome my own issues with ‘selling’ so I completely understand their struggle!”
She said she received numerous referrals from happy clients because “they start making money within weeks of fully implementing my methods. And, because I am so high-touch, very intentionally holding my clients’ hands through their journey.”
When social isolation, closings, and lockdowns began in Philadelphia, and around the country, Stamos was ready to pivot, an action that kept numerous business owners around the U.S. in the game.
“Prior to COVID-19, I relied on in-person speaking events as my main source of income. When COVID-19 hit and all my events were canceled, I was scared! Really scared,” she reveals. “I didn’t know if I would make any money. Would anyone be buying coaching? Was it even OK to ask? I pivoted to all online events. I ran my own and became a paid sponsor for other events. And it worked! I’m on track to have one of my best years ever.”
In addition, she has helped her clients “find new ways to monetize their expertise. They are selling high ticket packages, in ways they never had before, and they are ecstatic!”
While we are all sympathetic to the heartache caused by COVID-19, Stamos has found a ‘silver lining’ that she is eager to share.
“The silver lining of COVID 19 is that it forced me (and my clients) to get even more laser-focused on communicating their value well. When everyone is ‘Zoomed out’— the person who wins during COVID-19 and beyond is the person who gets out there with a powerful, profitable message that makes people drop their info in the chat-box and say ‘let’s talk.’ ”
Here is a tip: Go to virtual networking events and have a 1-minute talk ready to deliver. Coaches, pro service providers, consultants, and others–you can find high-dollar clients right now if you use your time in front of others wisely!
Please click below to find out how to create your own 1-minute talk. https://freegift.stamoscoaching.com/oneminute/
Dawn Santoriello, CFP® | President
DS Financial Strategies
Founded in 2015; Certified Financial Planner since 2019
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Check out Santoriello on Linkedin
When Certified Financial Planner Dawn Santoriello is not advising clients on how to manage their finances, grow wealth and implement her sage advice, she loves being out in nature and discovering new trails, either hiking on foot or on her mountain bike.
Especially during COVID-19, many people have been floundering, both personally and professionally. Santoriello appreciates that she “gets to wake up and do what I love every day. I love my clients, helping people, and the freedom that comes with running your own business.”
Initially, she did not see herself wanting to be a business owner, in fact, she remembers in college being offered an entrepreneurial class, and, at the time, it held no appeal to her.
“Yet, here I am today loving it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In my field you are brought up as a business owner. You pay your own expenses including rent, health insurance, you have to bring your own clients to whatever firm you are working for,” she explains. “If you are lucky you are given some prospects to call on that won’t give you the time of day. So, once it really sunk in that I was already running my own business and I let go of the fear I just went for it.”
Santoriello is more than a typical financial adviser, she is a coach and a guide. For many business owners and individuals, this is an extremely confusing, complicated, and daunting process, and she helps them “reach their financial goals with peace of mind. I simplify financial topics for my clients including budgeting, investments, and insurance, educate them, and help them create a flexible financial plan that changes as they change,” she adds.
“I also help them implement the solutions I recommend for them. Money doesn’t have to be a scary or taboo topic. I am passionate about helping people gain confidence and clarity around their finances.”
What value does she bring to new and long-time clients? “The value I bring to new and existing clients is my advice and expertise. As a Certified Financial Planner I have gone through extensive training. I listen to them and their needs, concerns, and goals.”
As a result, they are eager to refer Santoriello to their colleagues. “They trust me and are happy with the work that I have done for them.”
Like many service-oriented small business owners, she has had to pivot during COVID-19 but was aided by the fact that she already had the infrastructure, and the best technology in place, which allowed her to operate virtually with many of her clients’ pre-COVID-19. “COVID-19 made it more acceptable to operate a virtual business. The pivot I made was doing more webinars and refining my message. I also engaged in a lot more networking.”
When it comes to ‘silver linings’ during COVID-19, Santoriello says that she feels like a positive personal transformation took place for her during the past seven months that continues today.
“I let go of fear and I let my mess be my message. I am a spiritual/metaphysical person so I’m not afraid to show that and it has actually become my niche. Combining spirituality and money. I created my new signature talk, “Releasing the 5 Biggest Money Blocks That Are Holding You Back: How A Prayer For Abundance and Real-World Investment Strategies Changed My Life And Can Change Yours Too!”
Personally, she appreciated slowing down the pace of her busy life. “I had more quality time with fewer distractions with my loved ones. I stopped worrying about things I normally would have,” she explains.
“It is pretty ironic in a time like this. I just let go of fear, and had faith that everything would work out for the best. The prayer that I teach in my webinars, I just kept saying it to create how I wanted my life to be and clear any blocks where I was struggling. This time has been a wakeup call for all of us to get rid of the things and people that no longer serve us in order for us to achieve our dreams. They have tried to instill fear in us with this pandemic but it doesn’t work for people who are in their heart space and come from a place of love in everything that they do. Love operates at a higher frequency than fear.”
What sets her apart from others in the financial planning industry is clear. “I am passionate as anyone who has spent 10 minutes with me can attest to,” she explains “I am committed to the success of my clients and I put my whole heart into what I do. This is why I don’t require you to have a minimum amount of money to work with me. Many people don’t have $500,000which many advisors want you to have before they will help you. These are the people who can truly benefit from financial planning. It’s a common misconception that only rich people need financial planning. I also help clients with their money mindset and give them the tools to clear any of their money blocks.”
When Santoriello hears that a client has made a major leap based on her advice, she is over the moon. “OMG, I get so excited. I am so happy for them and my heart swells with joy,” she explains. “It is one of the greatest feelings. It’s as if it was my own achievement. Such a great feeling when others achieve something based on your advice.”
She is known for being there for her clients, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, “by being accessible. I put out numerous videos on the market to calm those fears which weren’t really a major concern because I educate clients and prepare them for times like this. The most important thing is calling them and just checking in to see how they are feeling, and how they and their families are coping with everything. For me, it’s about letting them know I am here for them as well.”
When times get tough, it takes the right mindset and tools to keep going with great gusto. These are qualities she is known for having.
“I am one of those unique people who is just naturally motivated. We all have a story and that story has taught me how to be strong and survive no matter what. I cry like everyone else and have a pity party but then I pull myself together and harness my inner warrior self, who some call Delta Dawn, and I go and kick some butt,” Santoriello says.
“The tough times are there to challenge you so you can grow to become the person you were destined to be,” she adds. “So, the key is to change the way you think of a challenge and be grateful for it showing up in your life. It means you’re one step closer to achieving your goals!”
Felicia Shanken, Founder of Philadelphia Women’s Network Connection, LLC.
Founded in February 2018; PWNC Foundation, Inc. was founded in October 2019.
Check out her website here
She started PWNC for “selfish reasons” after attending networking events that really didn’t meet even her most modest expectations. “The music was too loud. A lot of people hung out at the bar; which is fine if there is one since we all have to decompress. But then I would get some business cards and maybe there was a follow-up and I left unfulfilled. I felt something was missing.”
She began pondering what she actually learned from the event; if there was anything that she could apply to her business to help it grow, and the answer was a resounding no.
“So, I had a vision of doing something different in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, which was to start a networking group that not only offered networking events but provided women entrepreneurs with speakers who would talk about the tools and techniques of their businesses on various subjects that the attendees could implement right away,” explains Shanken.
Her aim was to offer different types of events, including fashion shows, hair and beauty events, sip and shop nights, breast cancer awareness events, and more. She also quickly saw how PWNC was able to make a major impact.
“PWNC helps solo entrepreneurs and business owners to know that they are not alone in handling their business affairs. If PWNC can offer a course, workshop, or event to help others grow their businesses then why not? If we have the resources to share, then I am all for sharing the ‘wealth of knowledge.’ ”
“It doesn’t matter how much you make in your business, if you don’t know how to continuously grow it, then you are already behind. Every person that owns a business or calls herself an entrepreneur knows how challenging it can be,” she explains. “PWNC offers the support that she needs to help her succeed if that is what she wants.”
What value does PWNC bring to participants? “PWNC builds relationships and forging quality connections, whether they are new or long-time clients. Our motto is ‘Business, Connections, and Resources.’ ”
Shanken is proud that all of the workshops, events, and courses offered to the community are from business owners who are experts in their fields, are established in their business and they get results.
When COVID-19 caused in-person events to go virtual, including those planned by Shanken and PWNC through November. Some of the events were canceled, but others were offered virtually. “The beauty behind that is where before networking events and workshops were done locally, we now have the opportunity to extend our reach nationally and globally, which I am extremely excited about.”
In addition to all of her work for PWNC, in September 2019 Shanken received the opportunity to host her own show on RVN-TV, a digital television platform. The show is called “Power Up Your Passion” and is the opportunity for her to bring guests on to talk about their passion in life and how it led to where they are now in their business and their career. “What I love about this platform is that it gives individuals the opportunity to share with the audience who they are as a person first (not their brand) so others can relate to their story.”
Like many women business owners, Shanken appreciated having more quality time to spend with Paul, her husband of 11 years. “Before COVID-19 I was so busy attending events, workshops, and building my brand that I didn’t spend too much time at home. The only time it seemed that my husband and I were able to connect was on the weekends and we all know how fast that goes.”
During COVID-19, one ‘Silver Lining’ is that they are able to eat both lunch and dinner together, ask one another about their day, since both of them are currently working from home.
“Another silver lining is that I can really focus on building and marketing my business more. I have the time now to give it a ‘tune-up.’ I can focus on where the gaps are and begin to fill them. I am more conscious of my boundaries when it comes to my personal and business life and happy to say that I am staying very firm on them. I am more comfortable with saying “no” and definitely focusing more on self-care, which is huge for any business owner.”
What sets her apart from others who operate similar businesses is simple. “The authenticity and relationships that PWNC builds with others,” she explains. “Is that my ladies amazingly like one another and enjoy each other’s company. They also love helping one another, and collaborating, when possible. We cheer one another on because we know how challenging running a business can be; especially if you have a family to take care of.”
When she wonders if she is doing a good job at supplying what PWNC needs, Shanken is thrilled to hear from PWNC members about how her programs and events spurred them to new heights.
“I will then receive a call or a text letting me know that something I posted on social media motivated them to either start a business, step up their game in their business, inspired them to do more or be more, whatever it was that they needed in order to be encouraged and successful in their business,” Shanken says. “The best feeling to me in this world is when someone tells you that you made a difference or inspired them in their life!”
There are many ways PWNC helps its community, especially during COVID-19, so much so that she becomes highly emotional when sharing about it. The corporation is continuing to bring great content, speakers, and connections.
“We have made our workshops and events more cost-effective because of the country’s current financial situation. We know a lot of small businesses will be closing because they haven’t received any financial assistance from the government and keeping a business going with no revenue coming in is hard.”
Among the well-attended programs was a recent six mini-workshop series on topics such as Growing your Business on LinkedIn, Public Speaking, Leadership Training, Learning Canva for Graphics, Managing Stress, and Podcasting. All of these topics are crucial in growing your business.
The donations for these workshops were $10 each which included a digital copy of the workshop. Some of the proceeds are going towards our PWNC Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund. We are awarding two community members mini-grants to assist them financially.
On October 6, there is a workshop on alternative ways of funding a business. PWNC is in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Commerce’s, 36th annual event called MEDWeek (Minority Enterprise Development). MEDWeek, which is a national event, is also hosted in Philadelphia. For one full week, there will be 42 events that are free to attend, to help owners grow their business. http://bit.ly/pwncevents.
PWNC has been asked to participate in the Virtual Philadelphia Small Business Expo, on October 27. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/philadelphia-virtual-small-business-expo-2020-registration-110513721516
Says Shanken: “We are looking forward to all of it!”
Brigid McGrath Stasen
CEO, “Bridge Your Style”
Founded fall 2018 – 25 years of luxury retail sales experience
Visit Stasen’s website
Check out Stasen on Linkedin: Brigid McGrath Stasen, Elite Image Stylist, Bridging Style To Your Lifestyle at Bridge Your Style
Check out Stasen on Instagram: BridgeYourStyle
Bridge Your Style is an umbrella company for the following brands:
Lafayette 148 – The latest styles with luxurious fabrics, outstanding craftsmanship & a modern sensibility, sophisticated, clean-lined clothing, expertly engineered for effortless dressing. European fabrics, effortless style, stylish looks, designed in New York.
Ellie Kai – Made-to-Order ~ Reinvented. Thoughtful Design, Fashion that is Made-For-You, Ethical Manufacturing. We introduce the silhouette, fit, and the design details, and empower you along with our Brand Stylists to create the look that works best for you.
Freida Rothman Jewelry and Accessories – A luxury collection of earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, sunglasses, and leather goods. Freida Rothman is a Brooklyn-based jewelry and accessories designer. Her handcrafted and intricately detailed pieces are made for effortless elegance. The brand’s signature mixed metal look combines feminine embellishments with edgy designs for a unique, contemporary aesthetic. (Original & Unique Design, inspired by the grit and glamour of Brooklyn. Designed in Brooklyn by Freida Rothman)
Since the fall of 2018, the time when she retired, this nurturing mother of three grown daughters, Stasen loves helping people. She is most expert at helping women of diverse ages purchase high quality, wearable clothing, luxury jewelry, and accessories in her private and virtual studios.
She started “Bridge Your Style” because she has always loved beautiful quality clothing and jewelry. “I wasn’t interested in going back into a retail boutique environment full-time,” she explains. “I love that I am able to work from home part-time and entertain clients once a season to enjoy the luxury of a private shopping experience, while still offering a great value.”
While many of her clients are fashion savvy, there are many others who know how they want to look but are unable to achieve that goal on their own. “I’m able to seasonally curate a beautiful wardrobe for my clients, so they may dress with the confidence that they deserve. I will also work with them to purge styles in their closets that are no longer fashionable and to pair what they own with pieces in my collection to give them a great value and return on their investment.”
In addition to selling beautiful clothing and accessories, she is always researching ways to expand her education when it comes to trends, fabrics, and product knowledge. “I don’t only sell once per season, but I am there for my clients all year; I am always available to assist clients with their needs,” she explains. “This is a great way for me to get to know dynamic women and women business owners to help them raise their profile, expand their reach, and attract new clients.”
While most of us have had to pivot during COVID-19, and it has not been an easy transition, especially because a great deal of Stasen’s business included in-person showings and trunk shows. But as anyone who knows Stasen will attest, she is always eager and willing to find a new way.
“I have taken advantage of Zoom calls in a big way to virtually sell to my clients,” she explains. “I have also acquired additional clothing and accessory lines that work well with the new lifestyle we are all living right now. Many of my professional clients are often on Zoom calls, so I am selling them blouses, jackets, and tops, along with some fun jewelry which helps them tremendously.”
Stasen found herself on these Zoom calls as the president of Fem City Philadelphia, a noted 10-plus -year-old women’s networking group with over 2000 active members in the Philadelphia market.
FemCity is more than a women’s networking group ~ it’s business for your soul. FemCity is a members’ only organization with local and online gatherings for women launching and growing businesses or growing business within a corporate or institutional setting. We welcome all women from all walks of life. We have retired professional women and stay-at-home Moms as members as well. We want to support and lift up all women.
She officially became the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of FemCity in the first quarter of 2020. As she was just getting to launch programming for the year, Covid-19 hit and all face to face gatherings came to a screeching halt.
“Talk about a pivot! I had to react quickly. I immediately had members reaching out to me for support. Many of my Ladies are isolated. They needed me, they needed each other and needed time to share their thoughts and vent with like-minded members going through the same challenges,” she explains. “I started our Zoom meetings for an hour or so twice per week to bring the members together to talk about their professional and personal issues as well as just having the camaraderie of each other to support. It has been quite heartwarming to see how the support of each other has kept our members going through these unusual times. I like to say that we straighten each other’s crowns.”
Finding the ‘Silver Lining’ in a difficult time is also something that Stasen is grateful for. “I appreciate being able to spend more time with my family. Meeting many clients through networking virtually has also helped me immensely.”
To fully understand Stasen one has to look at her close-knit and loving family. She and her husband George – who she considers to be her biggest cheerleader — have been married eight years, and as part of their blended family, she inherited six “awesome” grandchildren, two step-sons and their wives. My heart is full and I am grateful every day. Life can be hectic with our gang but I’m used to it coming from a family of 10. We have a lot of fun. As I am currently planning weddings for two of my daughters, I look forward to adding two amazing sons-in-law to the mix.
Professionally, she is most passionate about being able to service her clients in a convenient way. “I love when a client calls me and tells me that she has received many compliments on an outfit that she purchased from me,” this savvy entrepreneur explains.
“I love hearing how good the clothing feels on them, and that they love that I am able to coordinate jewelry and accessories to work with their purchases. One-stop shopping is what they love and this makes me happy that they trust me to guide them.”
If you wonder what sets Stasen apart from others who operate similar businesses? “I have more than 25 years of experience selling luxury retail. I’ve learned from the best of the best. I will provide service to my clients by going the extra mile. If they need a shoe or another piece that I cannot offer them from the collections that I represent, I will find it for them.”
Keeping in mind the overall advice to “dress for the job that you aspire to have,” most often she hears from satisfied clients that “my outfitting gives them more confidence, and they are taken more seriously in the workplace!” I also am often told that when my clients wear the lines that I represent, their husbands/partners always comment favorably. What’s not to love about that?
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