Connecticut entrepreneur Beth Bolton knows her way around the kitchen—and the ins and outs of business ownership.
In late 2019, she retired from baking and launched Beth Bolton Coaching. She recently created a new series, Driving My Bus: A Workbook for Entrepreneurs, to help female entrepreneurs build a strong foundation and guide them along their journey. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Beth about her latest endeavor.
NAN PRICE: Tell us about your coaching business evolution.
BETH BOLTON: After I closed, I took the whole month of January 2020 to essentially adjust to my new life. During that time, I had some ideas about what I wanted to do—and I knew what my path was. I knew I wanted to help women in business and I knew the best way I could teach them was through my own experience.
I have 25 years of retail experience. I had some restaurant experience and then I obviously had my bakery. Yes, we had many misfortunes, but I wanted to be able to take those misfortunes and use them to teach women that they can have profitable and successful businesses if they’re able to be proactive.
NAN: Why are women business owners your niche?
BETH: I chose women because they often have limited beliefs that they can’t be successful or profitable and others consider what they do as a hobby. I want to empower them to step outside the box and leave their comfort zones. You might be making handbags and you’re crushing it, but if you’re not giving yourself goals and you’re not trying to achieve goals, your business isn’t going to grow.
I want to show women that, no matter what you’re doing, you can set personal and financial goals—and then I want to provide them with the steps to achieve those goals.
NAN: Is that the premise of the workbook?
BETH: I first developed a one-pager Are You Ready to Travel? And I used a bus analogy that the four wheels on our bus are your foundation. My belief is that those four wheels should be a banker, a lawyer, an insurance advisor, and an accountant and everybody else is riders on your bus.
The one-pager is to encourage business owners to go through the thought process. The first question is: What is your passion? Aside from the monetary gain, I want you to really think about why you’re opening this business? That really makes people stop and think. Once they know their passion and why they’re doing what they’re doing, the next step is to look at your vision. Where do you see your business going?
After I developed that one-pager, I realized I needed to take people to the next step, because they now know whether they’re ready to move forward. So, I developed the workbook, which is also a template for a simple business plan. This isn’t creating any big financial statement. It’s just something to give them confidence and get them thinking about the business end of things.
NAN: How many women are you working with?
BETH: I’m working with about 10. Many are local and a couple are on the West Coast.
NAN: How did you get them engaged in your process?
BETH: That’s the hard thing. I took my experience the connections I had while I had the bakery and reached out to people I know. I asked them if they were interested and if they wanted to attend my Are You Ready to Travel? workshop. From there, I asked if they wanted to come and do the Driving My Bus workshop.
NAN: Is the workshop primarily targeted toward people who are just starting or are you working with them along the growth phases?
BETH: That’s a good question. It’s phase one, early entrepreneurship. However, I’m finding women coming to me who are dealing with COVID-19. People who didn’t know how to pivot.
NAN: For many, COVID-19 in business ownership is almost synonymous with pivoting.
BETH: Right. So, women whose shops have closed or they feel stuck. We look at what else they can be doing.
NAN: So, you’re really helping people with the question of: What now or what next? What’s next for you? Will you continue to coach women business owners through the next phase or put out another workbook?
BETH: I am going to put out another workbook. But first my focus is to finish writing my book—it’s not a memoir. It really is an entrepreneur’s journey.
NAN: I can’t wait to read it!
BETH: I’m excited.