Offering help to others is as vital as asking for help yourself - #IMadeTheAsk with Brit Kolo
Welcome to the #IMadeTheAsk entrepreneur spotlight series, where we share the stories of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have made the ask...and lived to tell the tale.
Read on to learn about Brit's business journey, how holding back from asking for help held back her business, and why it's so important to cultivate gratitude in our businesses and life.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your journey as an entrepreneur.
Today, I'm a Marketing Coach, coaching boxed-in business owners to become independent, profitable leaders through self-awareness and #MarketingThatFeelsGood. Five years ago, I had just graduated from Penn State University with a Kinesiology degree (aka Fitness/Wellness studies) and was working at the local YMCA as a Personal Trainer (aka Cleaner of Sweaty Ellipticals). So to say it's been a windy path to today would be completely accurate. After graduation, I left my Sweaty Ellipticals job to manage a gym closer to home. I stayed at that company for four years, moving from Manager to Client Relations Director, and finally to Marketing Director, after finding the world of Marketing and becoming completely obsessed with and skilled at it.
In August 2016, I left my corporate job to start my own marketing agency. I had zero clients. None. I hadn't yet made an independent dollar. But back then, I didn't know what I didn't know. What I DID know was that no matter what happened, I would figure out a way to make it work. And I did. I got a few well-paying clients right away. They referred me to a few others and I began building a small agency of other independent contractors to build websites and manage social media for my clients.
Then in April 2017, my world completely changed when a business owner approached me, asking if I could coach her through marketing her Life and Relationship Coaching business. Remember, as a long-time Personal Trainer, coaching was in my blood. It was truly my sweet spot. So I replied with an emphatic YES and we got to work. Soon after, I realized that coaching was truly where my heart was so I discontinued my marketing agency services and fully leaned into my coaching services. It's been the right fit for me ever since.
What's an Ask that you chickened out of making...and regret?
It took me a long, long time to ask for help in my business. When I would come to a problem or bump in the road, I'd get frustrated with myself for not knowing how to get through it, telling myself "You should know how to do this." I'd research my butt off, trying to find the right solution for me, wasting so much time, instead of just asking someone for advice. They were there - the people able and willing to help out - but I was often too proud to ask. I wish I had asked for advice and help sooner because once I did start asking for these things, I gained a whole new perspective on the problem and could move forward faster.
What's the Ask that you're most proud of making - whether or not it worked out?
A couple months ago, I was listening to one of my absolute favorite podcasts when I noticed the podcast host, who I greatly admire, mention she hadn't emailed her subscriber list in a while. I sensed a little shame and guilt in her admission and thought, "I bet I can help with that." So a few days later, after writing and rewriting an email offering my help with this possible problem, I hit Send. I'm proud of making this ask because this podcaster is someone I've looked up to for years and she's someone I've viewed as completely out of my professional league up until now. But I hit Send anyway. And while making the Ask doesn't hinge on the response you get, I did hear back from her and we're working out a time to chat!
Which Ask has been the biggest win for you - professionally or personally?
At the beginning of the year, I was on a one-time mastermind call with an entrepreneur I had followed for years. She was on the hot seat during this call, asking how she could make the best experience possible for her upcoming conference she was hosting. She had never hosted a conference of this size, so I could sense this felt like a BIG project for her. Later that evening, it just struck me that this entrepreneur might need an extra set of hands during the conference to do whatever needed to be done. Without really thinking the situation all the way through, I sent her a quick email offering my help during the conference, literally to do whatever she needed so she could stay focused on hosting. She got right back and accepted my offer to help! I was elated! I felt like this would be such a great opportunity to just simply serve someone. And it turns out, it definitely was. I went to the conference and helped out in a bunch of different ways, all while watching this entrepreneur stay in her element of hosting and making people feel welcome, without having to worry about if the coffee was still in good supply or if her social media accounts were up to date. It was such a huge win for me because I could easily see my service making an impact. And bonus - I got out of my house for a few days, which is big when you work from home!
What's your #1 piece of advice for other entrepreneurs or business owners who are gearing up to #maketheask?
My biggest struggle relating to Making The Ask is about entitlement. I worry that by straight up asking for something, whether it be money, time, advice, etc, that I'll somehow be perceived as entitled. My Inner Critic loves to chastise me before Making The Ask, asking me "Who are YOU to be asking for that? You don't deserve to be so bold." (Yes, she can be pretty harsh sometimes.) And a mentor of mine, Sara Christensen of Kickass Masterminds, helped me through this common thought process by telling me this: "Your heart can't hold entitlement and gratitude at the same time." This thought blew my mind. It truly did. I had always told myself the lie that by asking, I was being needy and entitled. But in reality, we must remember that as long as we're grateful for receiving whatever we've asked for, we can't possibly be entitled. We can only be grateful.