Flourish is a self and family development center located at 3020 N Lincoln Avenue here in Chicago. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Julia’s experience lead her to combining art, retail, individual therapy and support groups in one glorious space. While Flourish has many ways it can contribute to helping change lives, its initial offerings to the public are in the areas of parenting, self development and wellness with the sole mission of creating positive change in the lives of all who come in contact with Flourish Studios.
The mission of Flourish Studios is fabulous. Julia’s vision to help others Live. Learn. Love. could not be any stronger. Yet 14 months into her venture her vision had begun to get fuzzy as to where she was headed. Getting any business started, let alone one in the beginning of hard economic times, often can lead you away from your core mission- your “tag line”- the reason you started doing what you are doing and for whom.
This happens because reaching your target market always takes longer than we think and at some point it is easy to begin to take “whatever we can get” instead of holding true to our vision to find who we really need to serve. While Julia had done a better job than most, as evident by the fact that her business was surviving through such rough times, her business seemed to be lethargic and not doing as well as she expected.
Coincidentally, at about the same time Julia was coming to realize this fact, Arianne Votasmeets entered the Entrepreneur The Arts Round I competition. Arianne’s art work was currently being hung in the gallery of Flourish Studio’s when she entered. After reading her entry and learning about Flourish I went to see her exhibit and meet Dr. Julia.
Within the hour I spent at Flourish Studios, Dr. Julia and I hit it off so well she asked me, more or less on the spot, if I would consider working with her and her staff to refocus their efforts and realign her vision to help her business continue to grow through this tough economy. How could I resist such a wonderful opportunity. And so my work with Flourish Studios began.
For the past three months I have been going to Flourish at least once a week and working individually with Dr. Julia and her three full time employees. Each one of her staff needed focus and clarity as to how to better do their jobs selling and marketing the service Flourish offers. In the time I have been there we have shifted the focus of Flourish to hosting ONLY events that fulfill their mission to Live, Learn and Love, Increased Vendor participation in their mission by asking vendors to sponsor workshops for their buyers, retail stores or do training at Flourish, developed group programming in the initial three areas of Focus for Flourish of parenting, self development and wellness, and provided more time, structure and support for employees and Julia to devote to cultivating relationships to continue to find the target market they need to provide their wonderful services to.
Not only has our work together already significantly improved Flourish’s bottom line, but the staff and Julia are feeling more at ease, clearer about their roles and feeling more optimistic about their future. While I recognize the role I am playing to help Flourish Studios to “flourish”, none of the help I have offered would have made any difference at all if they were not willing and eager to act on what I am teaching them.
The joy in teaching entrepreneurs about sales and marketing, for me, is watching a world of possibility open to them when they act on what I am teaching them to do. Truthfully, I am not sure that a single one of Julia’s staff, at first, really believed the behavioral changes I was asking each of them to make in the way the communicated to clients would work. But they tried it anyway and agreed to being open minded and to continuing to do, consistently, the work I asked of them.
It is only now- three months later- that they are becoming believers in their own individual abilities to develop as entrepreneurs for Flourish Studios. When we learn how to express our care and nurturing to others through the services and products we believe in, we too, can begin to flourish, just like Flourish Studios.
And lastly, you never know, when you become an entrepreneur, who will cross your path that can change the course of your venture in positive ways. Thanks to the ETA competition Heartbeat of America and I created, Arianne Votasmeets desire to try her hand as a new artist and Dr. Julia Rahn’s passion to help others flourish, something amazing happened when our paths collided.
What amazing opportunities will your entrepreneurial efforts create? How will you flourish?