Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NAME: Val Nelson

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Career and business coach/business owner


AGE: 48


WHAT YOU DO: I help independent service professionals find clarity and confidence for doing work they love. I love helping those creative souls who are itching to do something meaningful but feel stuck because of visibility angst or a tangled web of ideas. I do this through coaching, mastermind groups, networking courses, speaking and workshops. My next six-week Heart-Centered Networking Momentum Group begins Oct. 16 with two classes — one that meets live in Northampton and one that meets via conference call. Visit to learn more.

EXPERIENCE: I’ve helped hundreds of professionals solve issues of clarity, confidence and visibility. I bring many years in management, mentoring, wellness education and Web marketing. The experience that most informs my work is my personal journey from a wallflower to being at ease with the visibility required by self-employment.

THE MARKET: My tribe includes heart-centered service professionals who want to run their own work life — especially coaches, consultants, trainers and change agents. Introverted business owners are ideal clients because I love resolving the flood of visibility concerns they face.

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Local networking groups like the Women Business Owners Alliance; online tools like Facebook and blogging; and occasional workshops and speaking. I do all those things because I enjoy them. Most of my business actually comes without direct effort, thanks to word of mouth and good visibility in Google. I put out some effort, and the universe returns it to me in beautiful, unpredictable ways.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? None. I have good credit, low overhead, and I’m not a big spender. If I need more money, I always have ways to earn it. (Can you tell that my smart financial adviser mom had me balancing my own checkbook as a kid?)

KEY TO SUCCESS: Many, including wrong turns I’ve learned from, plus tons of people who have helped. A few highlights include clarifying my purpose and focusing my business on that; hiring a coach; solid experience in business and marketing; investing in great trainings; my business mastermind group; applying great advice from successful business owners. In sum, skills, passion, meeting an aching need in the world and lots of help have been my keys to success.

CHALLENGES: When I first tried self-employment in my 20s, I couldn’t get comfortable with self-promotion and charging decent fees. So I went back to the job world and developed enough business and marketing expertise to make it far easier the second time around.

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: When I first started my current business, I neglected to follow my heart, so things lagged, and I felt drained. I followed demand for my skills without including my heart in the equation. Mistake. Once I clarified the right path for me, which is coaching, my business took off, and my heart, mind and body were all much happier.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: How to achieve this feeling I have every day: “I’m so lucky I get to do this work.”

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY? Lots of savvy business owners including Dan Green, Sheldon Snodgrass, Claudia Gere, Shalini Bahl and Nadia Tarazi.

TOP GOALS FOR 2012: Work smarter, not harder. As part of that goal, I hired a business manager. I am also offering more group options now, which I love because of how they spark off each other. I want to grow the groups and add e-courses.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: That you can follow your heart and the money. You don’t have to choose between them. Find the overlap, and that’s what works best. It’s proven.

PARTING THOUGHT: Take a moment to slow down, breathe and listen to your heart. It knows the way.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at


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