How Surviving Wall Street (& a car accident) Led to Business Ownership

by Jill Foster on February 17, 2009

Maria Marsala

Maria Marsala

Guest post by Maria Marsala, founder of Elevating Your Business. She’s a former Fortune 500 executive and now a strategic coach/consultant, author, and speaker. Maria started business as an Avon representative (at age 14) and later launched her Wall Street career (age 17). Maria’s keen business insights led her to becoming a bond trader at a time when women executives were a rare commodity. She has since worked with CEOs & presidents addressing the challenges of growing 6 and 7-figure companies; she can be reached at www.CoachMaria.com.

Editor’s note:
I recently had the pleasure of an e-conversation with Maria where she kindly answered questions for Women Grow Business – on how she got started and what helps her focus in this economy.

Our e-discussion follows.

What influenced you to launch your coaching business?

A car accident…and doing a lot of introspection plus taking career tests (all to determine what I already knew but I needed that list of skills); [It was] happentance of an article in a newspaper.

In your entrepreneurial experience, how has failure impacted your current success?

I failed at selling AVON as a teenager because I couldn’t get adults to take me seriously … it was not that I didn’t know how to sell door to door or that I didn’t know the products. I failed at business the second time as a consultant because I maybe lacked the confidence and didn’t know if I’d survive working alone [as a consultant].

I failed at being a life coach (the first two years in business) not because I wasn’t a good one, but because I wasn’t good at business yet.

By that I mean that when I left Wall Street behind, I really left it behind. I had to “heal” from my experiences and find the one page business plan process (and then take all of what I learned from Corporate America into my updated business).

I have lots of failure stories!

But to sum it all up, I had to do what I call the CEO Mindshift ™ [that can be summarized with these steps]:

6. CEO
5. Business Owner
4. Self-employed
3. Freelancer
2. Hobby
1. Employee

What adjustments to your business plan (or other actions) have been useful for your business in this current economy?

I have a plan — business, marketing, financial, life, and team plans.

And I set higher goals for who my ideal clients are.

What are a few ‘check up’ steps you’d recommend to business owners in this economic climate?

To increase profitability and productivity, [I'd suggest looking at the steps below...]

6. Credibility
5. Visibility
4. Focus on Monitoring Your Actions
3. Focus on Your Objectives/Goals
2. Focus on Your Ideal Clients
1. Focus on Your Vision

What’s one question regarding your career or business perspective you wish I would have asked?

[That question would be:] Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I’ll be 63. I am at the head desk in a room of 6 people, coming and going as I please.

I’m back home back in New York (upstate somewhere) conducting business retreats in New York, Washington, and North Carolina where business owners come to relax AND do their business plans, marketing plans, set the direction for their online businesses (all in different weeks) .

My company is making 15M a year and growing.

There is a team of coaches working for me along with a few VAs. Some are in those 5 seats in the office, some are doing work virtually.

I am traveling and speaking with a great new husband (that I currently don’t have, nor am I dating)!

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