Testimonials – VanEch Studio

Twenty-five years ago, I started my own interior design business, working for the most part out of my home studio. Three months ago, I took the next step in a lifetime dream and opened a retail home furnishings store in conjunction with the interior design.  Soon thereafter, I retained Jennifer Howard of Next Level Group.

I hired Jennifer because I love her approach to life and believe she understands what makes a business great. With her past experience as a brick and mortar business owner and her coaching accreditations, she has the acumen to look at specific issues in my business and help me get clear on what needs to happen next and the actions I need to take to get there. In our weekly sessions, Jennifer provides guidance and support to real problems but more importantly, she challenges me so that I can figure out what is in the way of creating the business I want. She is a trusted partner who holds my feet to the ground with the utmost professionalism and a genuine desire to help.  My business is grateful to have her and your business will be too.

Niki VanEch
VanEch Studio, Occoquan VA


Jennifer’s Top Tips – Letting Go of Tolerations

What are tolerations? They are those pesky things in life that can really bug us. They are the “straw that breaks the camel’s back,” in many cases. Tolerations are things like:

  1. The copier that leaves a line down the middle of your page
  2. The employee that consistently comes in 5-10 minutes late
  3. The burned out light in your refrigerator
  4. Not having enough time to enjoy your hobby anymore

How do you get rid of tolerations?

  1. Identify and make a list of those things in life that you are tolerating and if they were changed/fixed, you wouldn’t have to think about/deal with it anymore
  2. Determine a period of time in which you would like to get rid of those tolerations
  3. Choose a couple to work on at a time within the time parameters you have set
  4. Celebrate when you have gotten rid of the tolerations in your life!

Confessions of a Business Coach – Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I shared my story of slowing creeping into the life of a “workaholic” and what a disaster that was for me personally (little family and quiet time) and professionally (I was so exhausted I had to take many months away from my business.) What brought me out of this completely unbalanced way of living was learning how to implement a strong personal foundation.

What is a personal foundation? It is, “a structured basis to support an individual in living an exceptional life*.” I wanted to be an excellent business owner and live an exceptional life. The thought of getting there in a planned fashion was very appealing and I was willing to do the work to get there. There were, however, a couple of mindsets that I needed to change if it was going to work for me.

The first exercise was wrapping my head around the idea that my personal life was my foundation. Unfortunately, I had made my business my foundation and my personal life was supporting it. What I learned was that when you make your business the foundation for your life, you are navigating on pretty thin ground. Many things can happen that can easily and quickly change your business environment. The best approach, is to make your personal life the foundation and setting up your business to support it. For me, this meant learning some extreme time management skills so I was not working all the time and could enjoy my personal life, again.

The next mindset I set out to adjust had to do with my “attractiveness factor.” I will write more on “attractiveness” next month. But for now, and for me, it was getting back to the basics of what brought good, positive things to me instead of me having to go out and find them. For example, the passion that moved me forward to become a business coach was to help other business owners grow their business. But somewhere along the way, the goal became earning money. Now, wanting to earn money is not a bad goal at all. However, I learned that the best goal was to really focus on helping people and the money would come. To accomplish this, I let go of how many clients I had and how much I was billing each month. Instead, I began working toward attracting high-quality, coachable clients and turning away potential clients who were not a good fit for me.

Finally, I had to take better care of myself. You may be thinking that I started eating healthier, exercising more, etc. While those things are very good, taking better care of myself went deeper. I had to learn how to say, “no.” This was very difficult for me – a person who wants to help others. But I had to dig deep and ask myself, “If I say yes to every request for help or assistance, am I doing it for the sake of helping or because I wanted to please people.” Well, you guessed it, the real reason I was doing too much was because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. That was a dangerous mindset and I had to learn to stop and evaluate every request that came my way to make sure I was doing something for the right reasons. While this can still be a challenge for me, I have found it easier to be honest with people about my availability and I am definitely happier and healthier because of it.

What about you? What does your personal foundation look like? Is your business the foundation of your life or does your business support the life you want to live? Are you so focused on earning money that you can’t remember why you began your business in the first place? And are you taking care of yourself by placing healthy boundaries around you and not taking on more than you can easily handle within your set work hours?

If you are struggling with any of the above areas, take some time, today, to do something about it. Identify the challenge, reflect on how you got there, and then make a shift in your mindset to get back to those things (enjoying your life independent of your business, taking better care of yourself and your time, etc.) that were your goals in the beginning. Now you are on your way to developing your own strong personal foundation!

*Coach University – CU 500 – Personal Foundation


Take A Breather – New Beginnings

Happy Winter! If you’re like me, you’re already dreaming about warmer weather. After last winter, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to complain about the upcoming summer heat – and I didn’t! However, the brisk cold we are “enjoying” right now makes me think of more than just the warmth of Spring and Summer, I also think about the promise of new beginnings.

What do new beginnings mean to you? For some, new beginnings are an opportunity to ditch the baggage of the past and move on in their life. For others, it is a time to reflect on what has been working for you and to do more of “that” and less of those things that bring you down. For me, it is a time of implementing new goals while not forgetting the reasons I do what I do each day.

As you read the main article this month, Confessions of a Business Coach, Part 2, I want you to    consider what implementing a strong personal foundation would look and feel like for you.  If you would like more information on developing your personal foundation, reach out to me and I will be pleased to assist!

Think Spring but keep that warm coat nearby!  Thanks!