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Marlene Powell, a business coach, helps business owners work on their businesses (not in them). How? By implementing simple, practical tools, systems and methodologies so the business can generate more money – and time, so owners can get busy enjoying what really counts.

For Marlene, the highlight is watching her clients transform through giving themselves permission to let their business run without them… so they can enjoy the finer things in life. She shares her career journey with GH writer Ondela Mlandu

So, how exactly do you become a business coach?

As a basic requirement, you’ll need to have working/business experience to take on the responsibility of assisting business owners.

And her advice to those looking to launch their own biz? “Learn the fundamentals of business by working for a number of companies across different industries,” she says. “See which industry you have a passion for, then learn the basics of business e.g. marketing, sales, finance, operations, administration, etc.”

Once you have these basic business principles down, you’re equipped to learn about business and start your own gig.

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Struggles she’s experienced as a woman in business

When Marlene started out in an admin position in the insurance industry, it was a male-dominated environment. “As I gained experience, I moved through the divisions and built knowledge and experience, which gave me the confidence to move within the industry until I got to management level,” says Marlene.

She was fortunate to have her dad in the industry, and through his influence Marlene was given opportunities. “[But] as a woman I was never able to get a substantial title – director, for example – even though I did the same job as a man.” She was also paid less. “That’s when I realised there was a ceiling for women in this industry,” she says.

Marlene gets real about compromises…

“During a compromising situation, I brought it to the attention of my superiors, but was given empty promises,” she says. “It got me questioning my worth – bearing in mind I had the position and flexibility, but not the title, which would have given me the opportunity to be taken seriously and remunerated accordingly,” she says.

Marlene ended up questioning why she was doing what she was doing? “I was giving my time and everything that I could to the company and compromising my personal life as a wife and mom [when] an opportunity came my way to follow my passion, which was to help business owners. That’s where I saw the opportunity to buy my own ActionCOACH Franchise (I was the first South African woman to do so) and become a  business owner. Then I would get my life back,” she says.

READ MORE: Add To Your Reading List: “We Are The Ones We Need: The War On Black Professionals In Corporate South Africa”

Leadership lessons she’s learnt along the way…

1/ Surround yourself with people who have the leadership qualities you want to develop – and learn from them.

“I always had strong leaders/mentors in finance and human resources… and my CEO. By watching and learning from them, I developed my own strengths in areas I wanted to become stronger in. I took the best from each of my mentors to develop who I’ve become today,” she says.

2/ Surround yourself with people who want to help polish your rough edges.

“Always be in an environment that will bring out the best in you and enable you to perform to your full potential.”

How Marlene practises self-care

“I surround myself with people disciplined in the practice of self-care and business, and I learn from them” says Marlene. “I take time to reflect on what I’m grateful for and what’s working for me. I love aqua aerobics and Defence FIT [training focused on fitness and self-defence). My favourite way to relax is to watch the sunsets,” says Marlene.

Connect with Marlene…

1. Attend free Zoom webinars every Friday from 11am to 12pm: Hirsch’s Entrepreneur Workshops with Margaret Hirsch and guest speakers.
2. Follow Marlene’s business Facebook page: Action COACH Marlene Powell.
3. Visit Marlene’s website.

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