Mind Spirit Coaching Founder Naomi Rafalowicz admits two things: she didn’t intend to become an entrepreneur and she couldn’t have done it alone. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Naomi about leaning into entrepreneurship and what she’s learned along her journey.
NAN PRICE: Have you always been entrepreneurial?
NAOMI RAFALOWICZ: Absolutely not. This is a second chapter. I was a full-time special education teacher for 35 years. I had no thoughts of ever being an entrepreneur, but I did know that I wanted to spend my next chapter as a professional life coach—even when I didn’t really know what it was about.
The entrepreneurial part came after I realized I loved coaching and I had spent countless hours completing my coach specific training and it kind of became a necessity. It was completely secondary. It’s still the part for me that’s evolving and most challenging.
NAN: How did that “necessity” transition into a business?
NAOMI: When I retired from teaching in 2015 I knew I wanted to become a life coach, so I launched into getting coaching training and some business training. I finished my coaching training in 2016 and, in 2017, I became a credentialed, certified professional coach. In 2019, I realized I needed to create a business. That’s when I really got serious about it—as serious as I knew how to do with absolutely no background.
NAN: So, how did you get serious about it?
NAOMI: I wasn’t connected with any entrepreneurs. So, the first thing I did was start networking. I began by trying to connect with entrepreneurs in the wellness space. Eventually, I moved on and became connected with other professional coaches. The coaches I had trained with became my first resources. Again, that wasn’t the best resource, but I could connect with people who had left a career to pursue full-time coaching.
I talked to everybody I knew. I picked their brains to find out what to do. That led me into the business coaching space. I hired a business coach, which helped launch me into what I needed to do.
From there, I started doing more networking. I went back to my coaching community and I started taking business development courses. It was a huge circular journey.
I also became involved in the International Coaching Federation, which helped a lot with business development. Now I’m on the board of my local International Coaching Federation CT chapter and I have a lot of resources and support through the organization.
NAN: As you were networking and learning how to build your business, how were you finding clientele?
NAOMI: About a year into being serious about my business, I’d honed my coaching skills and I reached a point where I was frustrated and felt like I needed to move forward. I became a serious and dedicated about connecting and networking. I’d learned that the first step was becoming known, to let people trust, like, and know who I am and what I do.
I feel like coaching is a hard space as a business to make yourself known because people don’t know what a professional life coach does. So, I realized I needed to spend time talking to people about what I do and differentiate myself as a life coach—and just talk about what it means to be a professional credentialed, certified coach.
I launched a series of free speaking events. I started at the public library, which was a perfect place to engage with people. It was more of an opportunity to practice than something that really launched me. I spent a lot of time talking to people about what I do. And eventually people started to come to me because they they’d heard enough or they understood enough about what I did.
I continued to network and, when the pandemic hit, I made a million one-on-one calls and connections with entrepreneurs in all different areas and with people who had a business background. That slowly made me known within different communities.
About a year into the pandemic, it became really clear that people were starting to know who I was and understand a bit more about my business and my coaching. And then, eventually, I got invested in more business coaching. The second time around it made a much bigger difference.
NAN: Who is your niche client?
NAOMI: Women in transition—which is a broad category. And I decided not to really niche down. I originally started coaching women who were transitioning toward retirement and then into retirement and beyond.
But I realized that women were coming to me with whatever transition they had. I decided that I don’t have to define transition for women in their late 40s, 50s, or 60s because they know their own personal transition. When I work with women, I explain how professional coaching can help with a life transition and then move forward from there around how I can help.
NAN: Any tips or advice for others thinking about starting a business?
NAOMI: I couldn’t have done this on my own. What supported me the most was connecting with my community of coaches, my networking community, and people in my professional community. Then I had to get the background knowledge around becoming an entrepreneur and creating a business. So, I needed to connect with people who understand business and could help me—whether it was an accountant, attorney, business coach, or entrepreneurial networking group.
Those two pieces were really important. Finding people who understood what I do in my coaching profession and then people who understand business.