I started GEARSHIFT™ as an avenue to my true passion: coaching small business owners.
I learned business the hard way. Coming off a difficult divorce—with three small children and no way to earn a living—I began to work for my father, a small business owner with big ideas. (Isn’t that how most entrepreneurs start out?) It’s not that I had no way to earn a living. I had a degree in early childhood education with a minor in psychology.
However, due to the mental instability of one of the children, flexibility was crucial for me. Working for my father gave me the opportunity to take care of the children (their father stayed out of their lives for many years), and gain insights from an incredibly creative mind. My father’s business acumen was keen, clever, progressive and smart. Everyone liked him and he built solid relationships throughout the industry. I received the equivalent of a Ph.D working with him.
By 1981 (4 years later), I was COO and ran the company, pretty much on my own. Our clients were independent retail liquor store owners. If you are from the Chicago area you may remember Foremost Liquor Stores®. Our tag line was Pay Less…Get More at your Foremost Liquor Store®. Foremost started in 1949. I joined the company in its 28th year, in 1977. The relationships we built with distillers, distributors, wineries and breweries, alongside vendors of ancillary products, enabled us to service the stores, create a chain-store image and knock the competition out of the park.
Our strength was branding, marketing, merchandising, advertising, operations and buying. We were the retailers’ full-service sales promotions arm. Eventually, the BTAF forced us to register as a franchisor. The chain store image we created was so effective that everyone believed we owned the entire chain.
By the time we sold the company in 1994, we were 300+ retailers strong in different markets across the United States.
My business skills developed from creating and implementing marketing programs, coaching and guiding the operations of small retailers, and, simultaneously working with huge companies who would do anything for us because of the buying power held by our franchise. I understood the value of knowing, and working closely with, our bankers, attorneys and accountants, as well as the competition. I knew that nothing happens in business until ‘the cash register rings.’
In 1994, my son, Steve Olsher, had been working for me for 5 years (today, Steve is a well-known entrepreneur in new media). Together we started a new business (sadly, my father passed away 3 months after Foremost was sold, in 1994.)
Liquor by Wire®, then Liquor.com® grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise in only 4 years and was one of the first 500 merchants selling online. Pivoting the lessons learned from Foremost, and the worldwide relationships we built, we created a unique and innovative company that sent corporate and individual gifts of alcohol beverages around the world.
We were a powerhouse and soon, in that dot com era, New York agents were urging us to go public. Because of the difficulty in getting traditional funding due to the nature of our business, we found ourselves greedily believing they could do it.
It’s 1999. We received SEC clearance. We traveled the country doing presentations. We ramped the company up to 23 people (from 3). And, we made the cardinal mistake of handing off management to highly regarded executives, who turned out to be in it only for the gain. If only……if only!!!
Sadly, not one of us gained. While we were profitable and had a true working business, we went down with the other dot coms as the market crashed. The deal never closed. (My tears have dried but it is 21 years ago.)
Talk about pivoting. Finding out how resilient you are. Reinventing yourself. Again.
That’s when I became a business coach. Steve went on to other pursuits. It turned out to be the best move I ever made. Even I did not know, until I took this step, how truly passionate I was coaching, advising, consulting and working with small business owners, and their teams, who are so grateful to learn easier, smarter, unknown ways of building their businesses faster.
You know what I mean: you pour your heart and soul into making your business idea work. There is nothing you won’t do to learn how to do what you do best. You care deeply about the products and services you provide and about your customers, clients and employees. And you will work as hard as it takes to get there. Hard—that is the word that eventually gets you!
There is one thing I know for certain. You all work too hard!! And women work even harder. (I know this first-hand – children, home-schooling, Covid.) You won’t stop at anything. You believe you can do it all. Taking care of yourself gets left behind. Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg let her husband take on the heavy lifting! (And, recently I learned that stress contributes to dementia and auto-immune disease.)
This is why I created GEARSHIFT. This coaching program is based on you—who you are, how you think, what’s important to you and the results you seek. It is based on understanding you and helping you make small shifts in perspective that yield large results. Your unlimited potential often gets left behind because you get lost in the trees.
After coaching business owners in over 50 industries, it is clear that the most important steps we can take together are for me to help you grow and stay relevant; for you to live the life that is right for you; to understand how, exactly, the products, services and offerings you sell serve your clients best; to learn shortcuts to operate more productively; to take the right actions at the right times; and, to develop relationships that get you where you need to go.
You can have the power, precision and profit you deserve.
Coaching, teaching, speaking, writing and facilitating groups are my gifts. Working one-on-one with a business owner, advising and consulting are what keep me passionate and engaged, not to mention successful, all these years.
Check out my whole website. See what speaks to you and while you’re there, take the SOAR for Success quiz. If you would like to discuss the results, call me. I’m always open to chat. If Wonder Women Mastermind is of interest, let’s talk.
If I am not the coach for you (every business owner needs one), please, refer me to others. I have bandwidth to take on an additional consulting assignment and coach 2-3 more women. Our virtual Wonder Women Mastermind Club grows every month and may just be the group for you or members of your community.
No matter what, I am here for you.