Phyllis Sisenwine, a business coach and speaker, says that business ownership is in her blood. “I just recently found out that my grandmother used to own four different candy stores in Manhattan in the 1920s,” she says. “She didn’t trust other people to run the store for her so when she wanted to take a vacation she would just sell the store and then buy another one when she got back. It was really unusual for a woman to be a business owner in those days. She was a very remarkable woman.”
Sisenwine is the principal in Langhorne-based “Powerful Coaching” (www.powerfulcoaching.com) and specializes in coaching business owners, lawyers, executives, and other professionals. She talks on “How to Get All the Business You Want in Record Time” at a meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) on Thursday, October 26, at 6 p.m. at the Grain House Restaurant in Bernardsville. To register or for more information, call 908-647-5801.
Attracting more business, especially in a challenging economy, is a top priority for many business owners, big and small. The secret, Sisenwine says, is largely one of focus. “Most people have the best of intentions in growing their business and following through with necessary tasks. But the problem is that they let things get in the way.”
Losing focus is something that most people experience to one degree or another both in personal and professional life. “Staying focused is important because procrastination is the big problem for most people,” she says. “People say they are going to exercise or lose weight and they never do it. They wind up sleeping a little later in the morning than they should or deciding that the cookies in the kitchen smell pretty good after all. They never reach their goals, and it is the same in business.”
Sisenwine, who started her coaching business in 1997, says that she is living proof that reaching your goals can be exciting and financially rewarding. “After working for 20 years for a company selling office supplies, I completely reinvented my life,” she says. “The company I worked for was sold to the Staples office supply store and I decided to go into my own business.”
Initially Sisenwine started coaching sales people who she knew. After some success, she decided to go to coaching school, where she took nearly 40 courses and earned her master certification. “Right away I started coaching sales people again, but then I found that a lot of executives and lawyers wanted to hire me to teach them better ways to create business development opportunities,” she says. She now coaches clients all over the world.
Most of her coaching is done by phone. “Coaching is really about support and strategy,” she says. “It’s kind of like coaching athletes. All the best tennis players and golfers have a coach. I feel that when I work with people, I am in their corner for them. I provide time for my clients to think out loud.”
Born in New York City, Sisenwine and her family moved to the Philadelphia area when she was just four years old. “My grandmother was an entrepreneur and so was my father,” she says. “He started a screen-printing t-shirt business in New York and then built it up in Philadelphia.” She earned her bachelor’s degree from Temple University before starting her career in sales. Two decades later Sisenwine earned her coaching certification from Coach U, based in Andover, Kansas. She is married and has three grown children.
For those business owners or budding entrepreneurs interested in reaching their goals, Sisenwine offers the following advice:
Investigate obstacles and set goals. Ask where you want to be in a year and investigate what has been holding you back. It may be a lack of time, an inability to delegate enough, or not having workable systems in place, but all these road blocks can be successfully managed. “At its most basic level, setting goals is quite simple,” says Sisenwine. It’s a matter of stopping long enough to figure out where you want your business to go, creating a time line, and making an incremental plan.
Clear away the clutter. According to Sisenwine, clutter is more than having a sloppy home or office. It is a real energy drain that keeps people from getting to their goals. “When I start coaching a client I ask them what does their desk or office look like,” she says. “Usually they moan and groan. But it is necessary to take the time to get rid of clutter, because how can you have time for new business when you can’t handle the basics? You need to be organized.”
Vanquish the time crunch of shoulds. Many people think that they don’t have enough time to do the things necessary to get their business to another level. But, according to Sisenwine, it is possible to set priorities and thereby create the time you need.
People think in terms of “should,” as in “I really should get more business.” Better to change the “should” to a “will.” People suffering from the “shoulds” tend to find that it’s almost five o’clock — day after day — and they haven`t followed through on any of their plans.
Being open to possibility is another skill that can pay big dividends. Reinventing herself after working for 20 years took courage as well as personal insight. This is something that Sisenwine hopes to transfer to her clients. “Being a coach is something that I never thought I would be doing,” she says. Losing a job gave her an opportunity to reassess her career, and like so many other downsized professionals, she found that unemployment was one of the best things that could have happened to her.