Coaching Series: Ashley Heyburn
As part of a series, we talked with a variety of coaches. In this edition, we spoke with Ashley Heyburn, who helps creative entrepreneurs build thriving businesses.
Q1. What segment of business do you focus on?
I work with makers & artisans, creative entrepreneurs and small business owners who create physical products to sell. Most of my clients are incredibly creative, but sometimes run into obstacles to success when it comes to managing the business-side of running their creative ventures, we often work together on things like time management, marketing and sales.
Q2. Who or what motivated you to get into coaching?
Have you heard the saying, “if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime”? When I first started out I launched a business with the goal to provide marketing, sales and small business services for makers. In this model, a creative business owner could hire me to essentially do their marketing for them on a per-project basis. However, within my first year I learned two things that caused me to pivot and relaunch as a creative coaching business. 1. My clients (makers and artisans) were DIY-ers by nature and eager to be more involved in the work I was doing. 2. I saw that I could provide the most value to my client’s if I helped empower them to develop their own knowledge and skills around areas necessary to successfully carry out the day-in-day out business needs of their creative ventures. It’s been a win-win for me and my clients and I haven’t looked back since!
Q3. What’s the biggest obstacle people have in working with a coach?
Taking the step to hire a business coach to help you improve and grow your business is a lot like getting a personal trainer at the gym when you want to lose weight. The biggest obstacle is simply realizing that having someone else’s support will help you reach your goals. I find people often think they can do it all on their own, and they spend years working very hard without seeing the results they want. These people often end up discouraged and burned out and walk away from their dreams. However, once a person is ready to invest in themselves and take the step to bring people onto their team to help them grow, anything is possible. I’ve worked with business owners who had struggled for years trying to reach their goals for growth and with coaching, they reached their goals in a very short amount of time. It is amazing how valuable it can be to have a coach working with you that will keep you accountable and help provide you a plan of action and then come along with you to support and encourage you each step of the way. You are so much more likely to reach your goals and dreams when you aren’t doing it all alone.
Q4. What keeps you going?
I believe our world needs creators now more than ever; people with unique ideas and perspectives, who are brave enough to launch a business to take their products out of their sketchbooks and bring them to life for others to enjoy. That said, I realize there simply aren’t enough impactful resources available -- at an affordable price-point -- to truly help these talented folks acquire the skills needed to start and grow successful businesses. Supporting and empowering makers to help them build businesses motivates and excites me every day.
Q5. What book is on your nightstand?
I read every night before bed, but I’m never able to choose just one book so usually I have three or four in process at the same time. Currently I’m reading Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeir Hansson, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, and a fun one I picked up at a recent conference - Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan.
Q6. What is your morning ritual?
My husband and I recently relocated from Brooklyn, NY to Kansas City, MO. As we transition to mid-western life, we are committed to being a one-car family as long as we can, so most mornings I wake up and drive my husband to work in my pjs before I get started with my own day. When I get back home, I put on the BBC and listen to a little bit of the morning world news, make my bed, pour a cup of tea and fix some breakfast. After I have food in my stomach and the house is in order, I get out my productivity planner and come up with what my priority goals are for the day. Then I take a shower and get my work day started by around 9am.
Q7. What is the simplest thing people can do to improve their productivity?
Hide your phone or put it in airplane mode when you have work to do. I’m grateful for the many ways technology supports my ability to run my own business, however, my cell phone - with all the engaging apps and information at my fingertips, is by-far my biggest productivity killer. I’ve had to create very strict boundaries for myself with my technology so that it continues to be a tool to help not hinder my success.
Q8. How do your clients get inspiration?
Most of the creative folks I work with are really attentive to the world around them. Some gain inspiration from nature, some are drawn to people & culture, while others just have an incredible imagination. I think most creative people make because they are hard-wired to do it. It’s how they understand the world around them. They use their hands to output the thoughts and ideas they experience.
Q9. How do you keep your clients motivated to stick to their goals?
We are each uniquely motivated and therefore one of the first things I do when I have a new client is try to understand what those motivating factors are that will personally drive them to take action and also what obstacles might try and get in the way. This personal relationship and attention to my clients is one of the great benefits of one-on-one coaching. Some clients are driven by positive encouragement and words of affirmation - they see the most success when I help reassure them they are doing the right things and cheer them on as they take steps to get there. In contrast, other clients prefer to be challenged and pushed outside of their comfort-zone, they are motivated by “tough-love” so to speak. Ultimately, reaching their goals will be up to the individual, my job is to help provide them with the tools needed for success and empower them to believe that reaching their goals is possible and assure them that there is always something that can be done to make progress instead of throwing in the towel.
Q10. If you could give every small business owner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I’ve worked with so many incredibly talented and brave creators who took the bold leap to turn their ideas into a business, yet, so many of these folks don’t think they are successful because they look to social media and compare themselves to what they perceive other businesses are doing. To really build a creative business that lasts, you need to spend the majority of your time looking inward. Figure out what type of business you want to build, set goals for yourself, and focus on personal progress not perfection. As someone who has worked with makers who are making over six-figures with their handmade businesses, have loads of followers on social media and to the outside world seem to “have it all together”, I can tell you, even these folks are dealing with challenges. Running you own creative business isn’t easy, but it’s an incredibly rewarding and meaningful way to make a life. Don’t give up, stay focused on your own goals and keep doing the work.