Sharon Sklar first heard the term Rolfing® the late 1970s and learned that it was about organizing and integrating your body. From that moment, she says “a light went off in my brain.” At the time, there was one person in Connecticut providing the service. Sharon found her and, after her second session, she knew this was what she was going to do for the rest of her life. She launched her business, Sharon Sklar Rolfing in 1981 and has continued to evolve and educate herself about business ownership.
MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price met Sharon in 2017, when she was co-facilitating a content writing panel for the Women’s Business Roundtable at the Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center (EC-WBC) at the University of Hartford. The two recently caught up to talk about Sharon’s entrepreneurial journey.
NAN PRICE: You have a BFA in sculpture from the College of Fine Arts at Boston University. As someone with an arts background, how did you transition into business ownership?
SHARON SKLAR: I did it with the “build it and they will come” mentality. When I first started out, I knew nothing. I didn’t know how to be a bookkeeper or pay business taxes. I just knew that this would be my life work. I did all my prerequisite work, so in total I spent three years studying for my Rolfing certification. When I graduated, I just started doing it and figured people will come. And they did.
NAN: How did you build clientele and raise awareness about something people didn’t really know about?
SHARON: I just built it. I started out by doing lecture demonstrations. I’d advertise in the local paper and post information around the library. Eventually, I started getting articles written in local newspapers.
Now, I write for a wholistic magazine. I kept that going even during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s really opened up a lot of doors because, being in practice for 40 years, I guess I have something to say—and other people think I do, too. I get a lot of clients who have read my articles. It’s another way of spreading the word about what I do. People keep telling me, “you are the expert,” but of course I don’t believe I am. I just write from what I know.
NAN: At what point did you realize you needed to utilize some business resources?
SHARON: I’m admittedly very low-tech. About 10 years before I started at the EC-WBC, I had a very basic website. A friend of mine who was aware of the resources introduced me to the EC-WBC because she knew I was interested in doing something more with my business.
I don’t think anybody could ever find my website unless they knew Sharon Sklar Rolfing. At the time, it didn’t have any search engine optimization (SEO). I remember the first class I took, the instructor kept talking about SEO—I had no idea what that was! As a right brain person going into a left brain business course, the EC-WBC helped straighten me out. And the people who worked with me were kind and gentle because I was afraid to let go of a lot of things.
Since then, I’ve had people help me keep the site up to date. And it’s fantastic. It’s got SEO and it’s mobile-friendly. I get people contacting me all the time because they found my site online. It has all the right words in it.
NAN: What advice would you give to other business owners?
SHARON: Create a team. I did it alone for more than 35 years. I did the Rolfing, I did the bookkeeping, I did the laundry, I did the advertising, I did the shopping for all the things I needed. It all fell on me.
Having a team has been the most important thing to me. I consider EC-WBC Business Advisor Lacey Banks to be my business coach. She’s set me up with other people who then helped me, like someone who could do my graphic and logo design. Lacey also introduced me to Hello Consulting Founder Robin Zaleski, who helps me with marketing. To have built a team of experts to guide me is amazing.
Another thing is recognizing what you do and don’t like to do. I knew I needed to do social media, but I personally don’t like it. So, I created a contract with a friend who loves social media. I give him content and he makes it look great.
Having a team helps me do the thing I want to do most, which is working with my clients. I’m glad I’ve been able to find people who have a similar philosophy to mine or can translate what I believe in my philosophy into what they do best. Align yourself with those people.