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Coach and Author Maria Gavriel on Finding a Path to Sustainable Success

Case Study

Coach and Author Maria Gavriel on Finding a Path to Sustainable Success

Maria Gavriel came from a successful business in the legal industry when she decided to shift to coaching women entrepreneurs. She hit her financial goals very quickly, but at a high cost: it affected her personal well-being, family life, and health. Because of this, she had no choice but to implement a change. 

In this article, we learn about how she transformed her approach to business and the insights, frameworks, structures, and systems that have freed her and her clients from exhaustion and burnout. Don’t forget to check out the summary of Gavriel’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference and her recommended reading list at the end of the article.

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Challenge 1: Early success and burnout 

Within the first year of her coaching business, Gavriel had already achieved a six-figure income. She was passionate about and excelled at helping women achieve their goals for their businesses. And she worked very hard on this new venture, with what she described as a “type-A, action-based” mindset, always working and doing everything to succeed. 

But her dedication to her business soon took its toll on her home life and even her health. She struggled in her relationship with her husband and her two young kids, and on top of that, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. “I realized that my relationship was suffering, my parenting was suffering, and it was almost like my body said, ‘If you’re not paying attention, we’re gonna create a physical ailment for you to slow down.’” 

With all these red flags, Gavriel asked herself, “There has got to be another way to be successful without costing you all these other parts that matter more to you. So I had to kind of take a step back and re-evaluate–I might have to pave a new pathway here myself.”

Solution: She realized she needed to pull back and find clarity on her goals, so she doesn’t continue burning herself out doing everything all at once. Gavriel created her own set of guideposts to grow her business without sacrificing family, relationships, and health. 

She outlined the key elements of her system: 1. Clarify your financial goals, 2. Define three pathways to achieve this, to focus your energy and attention, 3. Once you meet a certain financial goal, you can start automating and hiring out or building teams, and 4. Build both a personal team and a work team who will support you in creating that balance between business and personal life. 

With this paradigm shift, Gavriel pivoted the way she approached her business and family life and learned to create a three-day work week for herself. She began to see that burnout and being overwhelmed are very common pain points among women entrepreneurs too, and her new approach turned into something she could share with her coaching clients. “It was a great opportunity for me to pilot test everything that I was doing in my own life, pay it forward to them, and see the results there.”

People: Gavriel, her family

Systems: Stepping back to reassess your situation, requires acknowledging that something is not working and a willingness to ask questions about how else one can achieve one’s goals

Tools: Any notebook like Moleskin to map out goals and plans

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Challenge 2: How to get buy-in from the home team

Gavriel knew that achieving success in both business and personal spheres needed harmony and collaboration between both worlds: she needed support from people at work and her family. But how do you get the buy-in and commitment from your children, spouse, and other important people in your personal life?  

Solution: In the same way a CEO holds goal- and vision-setting meetings with a work team, Gavriel decided to adopt vision-setting sessions with her family. This gave them the opportunity to discuss what each member hoped to achieve in a particular year and then collectively come up with a roadmap on how to achieve those goals. 

The shared family vision combines both personal and business goals, which helps Gavriel get her family’s support when she has big commitments for the business. At the same time, the combined vision-setting allows for open communication about each family member’s priorities so everyone is heard. They even have quarterly check-ins to assess progress toward their shared goals and to find out if anyone is struggling and needs support. “If everyone’s heart is in it and everyone’s working towards it – it’s almost 100% likely to succeed because everyone’s invested in it in the same way that you are.”

People: Gavriel, her family

Systems: Personal vision setting, shared goal-setting, and planning with the family

Tools: Any notebook like Moleskin to map out goals and plans

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Challenge 3: Building a team: How do you decide what roles to hire for?

Applying her new, more focused and balanced approach to business, Gavriel successfully completed another year meeting her financial goals. She had reached the point where she could hire team members to support growth and keep things humming along nicely. 

“There are so many moving parts to running a business. They’re all important. They’re all part of growth.” How did Gavriel decide on what roles or tasks to hire for?

Solution: Thinking about what she enjoyed doing and what activities produced the highest ROI gave her a clear direction on what roles she needed to let go. She knew she loved public speaking and coaching, while she dreaded managing social media. (Her first hire was a social media manager). Gavriel calls this the “Pie or Pain System” – a process by which entrepreneurs can identify what roles and tasks they should focus on and what they should let go, automate or hire for. 

Once you have identified the “pains” or “time sucks” that take you away from your high ROI activities, she recommends first looking at software solutions that could be a cost-effective option. Then you can think about hiring and building a team to support your business needs.

Today, Gavriel has a social media marketing team, a product launch team, web team and a Facebook ads team, each headed by a team leader who directly engages with her so she does not have to micromanage each function. Each team uses tools for automating tasks like payments, renewals, social media and email scheduling. In the selection of tools or software, they evaluate how well the different tools integrate with each other, and which ones the teams prefer to use.   

People: Gavriel, Social Media Marketing team, Product Launch team, Web team, Facebook Ads team

Systems: Pie or Pain System to help determine what roles to automate or hire for

Tools: Any notebook for note taking like Moleskin, Hubstaff for time tracking, WordPress for the website, QuickBooks for bookkeeping, payments and renewals, Hootsuite for social media scheduling, Drip for email campaigns and scheduling, Instagram and Facebook for social media marketing

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Challenge 4: Building a team: Not knowing enough about the role  you are hiring out for

Building Gavriel’s team had hiccups. At one point, Gavriel felt that she needed help with the marketing side of the business, and so she hired a marketing director. They spent six months with a lot of back and forth, miscommunication and eventually – disappointment. For that $12,000 investment, she generated zero ROI!

Reflecting on the outcome of that hire, she realized she didn’t have a clear idea of what her goals and expectations for the role were. She did not understand the marketing side of her business enough to be outsourcing it.

Solution: That experience taught Gavriel that you need to get your hands dirty and get a good working knowledge of your business needs. “You want to learn a couple of things first, and then you’ll know for sure what you’re hiring out for and how to communicate your needs to your team. Otherwise, it can become very unfruitful.” 

For those who feel they need to hire very soon after getting a business up and running, she recommends speaking to a business coach to be sure they understand what they need to hire out for. 

People: Gavriel, business coach

Systems: Review business goals and the pathways to achieve them, then map out how potential new hire contributes to this

Tools: Any notebook like Moleskin where goals/vision and ways to achieve them have been documented

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Challenge 5: Building a team: Do you need full-time hires?

Gavriel knew she needed help with her “time sucks.” She knew to leverage automation and technology for cost savings, and she understood that needed to be clear about expectations from people she hired. She began to look at the really big, multi-million dollar coaches in the industry and wondered how they achieved that growth and what she could learn from them. Did she need to build an organization with full-time hires for various roles?

Solution: Gavriel joined a Christian Mickelsen VIP Mastermind group where she quickly learned that the biggest names in the coaching world mostly hired independent contractors. As a result, they retained financial flexibility without the need to set up retirement funds for full-time employees. Gavriel realized she could achieve the same growth and scale up using this approach.  

Especially for a new business or one that is just starting to grow, Gavriel recommends identifying how many hours it takes to complete tasks you want to hire for. Most likely, you don’t need a full-time social media manager. You can find contractors who are willing to work the hours you require, or you can refer them to other contacts to help them get the total work hours they want. This keeps your costs under control while getting you the support that you need. 

People: Gavriel, independent contractors, mastermind group

Systems: Estimating work hours needed for roles to outsource, using referrals or crowdsourcing to come up with work arrangements with contractors, networking/consulting with other successful coaches

Tools: Job boards like Indeed or Upwork, Indeed or Fiverr for contractors, LinkedIn for networking

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Scaling & Success

Challenge 6: How to help more people without going down the path of burnout again

Gavriel admits that she restarted her coaching business with a self-imposed limit of ten one-on-one clients a year. After the burnout and personal crisis she went through, she wanted to make sure she didn’t overextend herself again. But she felt the urge to help more people. 

“How do I expand time again and clone myself? I don’t want to just help the ten clients. And so the next challenge was to scale up to help more people and then just kind of hit that next revenue mark.”

Solution: She decided to design and launch group programs that combine the self-paced components of traditional programs with limited coaching sessions. This allowed her to expand her reach without the same time intensity as her one-on-one coaching clients. Knowing that a lot of programs are left unfinished by enrollees, she made sure to incorporate group coaching channels to provide support and an accountability system to her clients.

People: Gavriel, Product Launch team, Web team, Social Media and Facebook Ad teams

Systems: Productizing services

Tools: Thrivecart platform to sell programs, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress

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Challenge 7: How to overcome the time scarcity mindset?

Even after launching her hybrid programs, it wasn’t an instant change for Gavriel to be open to doing more in her business. “My mindset was if I do more, I’m going to burn out. I don’t ever want to go down that pathway again. It almost cost me everything.” 

But whenever she had discovery calls with potential clients and listened to their struggles, she knew she could help them. It felt like a disservice not to find a way to support them. 

Solution: With the help of her coach, she slowly shifted her mindset from time scarcity to time abundance. She laid out her long-term, lifetime vision where she embraced her mission to reach more people and have a greater impact. “I had to reframe my thinking and say, no, I can definitely help an infinite amount of people and I could still have a three-day work week…it’s limitless if we just allow ourselves and put the systems in place.”

People: Gavriel, business coach

Systems: Reframing limiting beliefs, maximizing her teams and systems

Tools: Any notebook like Moleskin to map out goals/vision

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Hindsight: What Gavriel would have done differently 

Gavriel now knows that being so action-focused and doing everything all at once is not a sustainable way to do things. If she could do it again, she would not drive herself down the path of burnout and sacrificing her personal life. She reflects, “I know how to create a business, I know how to create success. But if I were to do it differently, I would go in saying, what are you going to do differently this time? So you don’t repeat the same mistakes.”

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Advice from Gavriel: When to pause for clarity check

At each stage in her business and with every challenge, Gavriel goes back to clarifying her goals to guide her decision-making. In the day-to-day management of your business, you may get lost in the details, constant activity, and the need to get things done. But she recommends always stepping back and finding your clarity. 

“When you’re doing way too many things, that’s a good sign that there’s not enough clarity as to what really you should be doing and what’s really going to move the needle for you. If you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know how you’re going to get there, you’re going to go around in circles and that’s just going to wear you.” 

Her recommended approach is to always limit your attention to a maximum of three strategies, to solve your business needs. This helps you to hone in on your main objectives and focus your effort better.

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Gavriel’s difficult journey from breakdown to breakthrough in her business and personal life became the blueprint for her coaching style. Clarity of goals and solutions, getting your systems in place, and creating synergy between your work and home teams are some of the key elements she shares with her clients who also struggle with overwhelm and exhaustion. 

Using these same principles, she is able to run her six-figure coaching business within a three-day workweek, which allows her time for family, volunteer work, writing, and other pursuits that keep her fulfilled. Now that she has fully embraced the concept of time abundance, she continues to scale the business and open herself to opportunities to help women achieve success in their businesses in a balanced and sustainable way.

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Gavriel’s Read List

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Gavriel’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference

Starting Stack

Growing Stack

Scaling & Success Stack

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Other tools their clients use:

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More About Maria Gavriel

Maria Gavriel is a Business & Life Strategist, TEDx Speaker, Award Winning Author, 2-time Entrepreneur, NLP Practitioner, and the voice behind She has been empowering purpose-driven women to create fulfilling, prosperous, passionate lives doing what they love…and has been featured on TEDx, FOX, CBS, NBC, NPR, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, YahooNews!, Magazines. She has also taken part in Global Leadership Conferences and Women’s Summits sharing how to achieve your ultimate vision, and create massive success without it costing what matters most in life.

Maria enjoys helping women break down the barriers to let their best and highest selves emerge and experience the life they were meant for.

She infuses business with internal work so that women can live their best life both at home and in business. After launching multiple businesses, she’s taught her business blueprint to effectively create sustainable heart-driven prosperity, watching her clients grow their dream to 6 figures in just one year.

Check out her free guide to the Pie or Pain Time Abundance System:

For more info and supportive tools, you’ll find her at: 





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