Elise Enriquez left her corporate job in 2005, looking for a change but without a solid plan of what she wanted next. She spent three years working as a real estate agent, getting to know the world of entrepreneurship and personal development. When she finally decided to shift to coaching, she didn’t know she would go through several phases of testing and transition to find her niche and build the business she has today.
In this article, Enriquez shares with us how her business has evolved in the last 14 years and how she dealt with different challenges along the way. Don’t forget to check out the summary of Enriquez’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference and her recommended reading list.
Table of Contents
- Scaling & Success
- Other recommend tools
- Hindsight: What Enriquez would have done earlier
- Advice from Enriquez: Starting simple and keeping it simple
- Enriquez’s Read List
- Enriquez’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- More About Elise Enriquez
Challenge 1: Figuring out her market
When Enriquez decided to transition from real estate to coaching, she initially planned to focus on the career coaching niche. Having spent more years of her working life in a corporate setting, this was a more familiar space to her. She got certified as a Martha Beck Life Coach and a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner and decided on this path.
But the networks she built in the real estate industry and a separate networking group were mostly entrepreneurs. And she soon found a lot of these entrepreneurs coming to her for help.
Solution: She resisted the idea of coaching entrepreneurs for a while but then relented at some point, “Okay, well, you keep asking me, let’s see what this might look like.” She decided to “…just start doing something, see what I need from there, and kind of build the plane as I fly it.”
As she started working with a handful of clients, she saw how coaching entrepreneurs might be a better fit for her. She loved working with passionate people who had built a business but just needed some guidance to grow and reach the next level.
Being very action-oriented herself, she liked that entrepreneurs could quickly implement changes and test strategies. She explains, “That was so much easier to do really in the entrepreneurial space than in the career space. I could actually effect change very quickly with a business owner versus somebody making a career change.”
People: Enriquez, network of entrepreneurs
Systems: Identifying and responding to a market need, market testing
Challenge 2: Figuring out the format: One-to-one or group coaching?
At this point, Enriquez was still in the testing phase of her offer and target market. She called herself a ‘purpose discovery coach,’ and her approach was along the lines of life coaching for entrepreneurs. When asked what format she offered in the beginning, she recalls, “At first, it was a group program because I was kind of hedging my bets a little bit. I thought, ‘Well, I don’t know if I want to sign up a bunch of individuals and have that much time dedicated if this is not a group I intend to serve.’”
As it turned out, Enriquez felt like her first coaching group didn’t have the right mix of people and wasn’t cohesive. She eventually decided to wind it down. Was it a case of the format not fitting the offer or the participants’ dynamics? Or perhaps all three factors combined?
Solution: Similar to choosing her niche, Enriquez decided to move forward with the next opportunity that came to her. A couple of entrepreneurs from the group program chose to stay with her and continue coaching one-to-one. With this vote of confidence and without a firm plan for where she wanted to take her business, Enriquez decided to pursue the one-to-one format of purpose discovery coaching.
This worked well for her as it allowed for deeper coaching relationships. She went all-in on one-to-one life coaching with entrepreneurs from 2010 to 2016.
People: Enriquez, one-to-one coaching clients
Systems: Identifying and responding to a market need or taking advantage of where the opportunities are
Challenge 3: Distribution: How to attract more clients?
Much of Enriquez’s client base during this period came from referrals from her networks. With the very personalized and deep work she was doing with individual clients, she thought, “How do I want to talk about what I’m doing to attract more clients?” She wanted to build up her client base without solely relying on word-of-mouth.
Solution: Enriquez stepped out of her comfort zone to get in front of people she thought needed her services. She recalls, “I went out and did speaking engagements. I don’t want to be known for speaking engagements, that’s not what I actually enjoy doing. But I did a lot of presenting in my time, and that also attracted one-to-one clients.”
People: Enriquez, her network
Systems: Using speaking engagements for lead generation
Challenge 4: Losing her project management system
Enriquez adopted various software to support her growing business. She had a knack for setting up systems and was very comfortable using tools and technology. One of the tools she relied heavily on was her project management system.
So it was a major crisis when she learned that her project management system had to close down due to financial troubles. The current users were given three months’ notice to find a new project management tool and migrate all their data.
Solution: Enriquez joined a Facebook group comprised of users of the now-defunct software, where people shared ideas of what to switch to. This is where she found an alternative called GQueues, the project management tool she uses today.
Before migrating to GQueues, however, she had to get some assurance that this new tool wouldn’t suddenly fold up too. She found a way to get in touch with the CEO to ask her questions. “I just went through a very traumatic experience of losing my tool, you know. And it’s not like I know everything about how a business is funded and all that kind of stuff. But I felt reassured by what the plan was and what they were doing. It’s a lot to shift to a different platform!”
Systems: Crowdsourcing for alternatives, conducting due diligence on the new software provider
Scaling & Success
Challenge 5: Transition to productivity coaching
In late 2016, about seven years into her one-to-one purpose discovery coaching, Enriquez launched a free group coaching program. Inspired by David Allen’s methodology, the plan was to have 12 weekly check-ins focused on helping entrepreneurs implement their systems.
In the first session, she talked about checking your calendar, managing your to-do list, getting your inbox to zero, and processing your in-tray. But her entrepreneur coaching clients were completely lost.
Enriquez recalls, “I had a breakdown about it right afterward. They didn’t know what I was talking about.” It was a huge turning point for her when she realized her clients did not know the basics of productivity.
Solution: Enriquez saw the gap between her current coaching service and where her clients were in terms of the daily tools and systems they used in their business. She shares, “I was coaching at a higher level of purpose, values, and vision, but realized that people couldn’t see that when they were overwhelmed by the ground level of day-to-day life.”
This realization led to her transition from purpose discovery coaching to productivity coaching. She tells us, “By spring of 2017, I had launched my first group to intentionally teach them about productivity concepts instead of just doing it by accident. But again, it was an experiment. I went into it thinking, ‘I’m just going to try this.’”
She called it the “Get Your Stuff Together (GYST)” program. The six-module course teaches productivity models and aims to help clients get their bearings on what’s on their plate, what their priorities are, and how to use tools like calendars and emails to create a system that suits their needs.
She now offers GYST as a one-to-one program and also as a group program. She opens it to small cohorts through a general public sign-up and also to intact work teams, like departments within a company. Enriquez enjoyed getting back into group coaching. She loved the dynamics of presenting a productivity model to a group and then having them discuss and learn from each other.
Enriquez talks about how this evolution in her business opened her eyes to her own ‘superpower.’ “I get so lit up when people are on purpose. When we are talking about purpose, I love all of that. But when it comes to my superpower of all superpowers, it’s going, ‘All right, what are you trying to do? Okay, here’s what we need,’ then sequencing it and setting that up in a system for them. That’s my jam.”
She also did not leave purpose discovery coaching completely behind. “If people want to engage one-on-one on these higher level, longer range coaching commitments, we can do that. But first and foremost, I want you to have a system in place that allows you to manage what’s coming at you [on a day-to-day basis] so that you can make choices about how you’re going to spend your time.”
People: Enriquez, clients who joined her free 12-week productivity challenge
Systems: Identifying and responding to a market need, market testing
Challenge 6: Providing continuous support to her GYST graduates
Enriquez knows that productivity coaching involves creating habits and systems. It is an ongoing process that requires a long-term investment of time, focus, and energy. At some point, she realized she didn’t feel great about teaching a six-week curriculum and then dismissing her students to implement by themselves without any support. She believes, “When it comes to our learning and growth, nothing is going to be one and done.”
Solution: Similar to how her GYST program started, Enriquez somewhat accidentally created a membership community for her productivity training alumni. At first, it was just meant to be a follow-up forum, but it has evolved into a full-blown support group.
“They get new content every month that is specific to them and their journey. It’s just been really fun to have that side of it because that’s what it takes – this ongoing commitment to whatever it is you’re trying to grow. And when it comes to productivity, what we care about changes, and so that requires changes in our approach and it requires seeing examples from other people. And so having the community was the best thing I could think of to support people doing that.”
Systems: Identifying and responding to a market need
Challenge 7: Hiring people to work in the business
Like many solopreneurs, it wasn’t a quick transition for Enriquez to hire people. She was very open to hiring professionals like marketing experts or other business coaches to help on her business. But it took her some time to invest in hiring people to work with the business. She thought of herself as a pretty good DIYer and felt she already had systems and tools on lock.
However, about two years ago, she started feeling resentful of things she did every night, like updating her calendar and scheduling emails. She had gotten so busy that her administrative tasks were spilling over into her downtime at the end of the day.
Solution: Enriquez finally had to address the issue of the admin tasks she resented. She talks about how she kept pushing off those tasks on GQueues, “This is why having systems is so important because it shows you what you’re not doing. [You can] finally confront it and have those conversations with yourself of, ‘Why isn’t this getting done?’ Having our systems in place allows us to see that stuff, and where the friction is.”
Slowly, Enriquez accepted the fact that she needed to focus on the “highest and best use” of her time. She figured out where she had the budget to outsource, and just about two years ago, hired a bookkeeper, a podcast manager, and a community manager. Having an expert like her bookkeeper onboard made her more open to the idea of hiring people who may not be experts but are doers.
People: Enriquez, podcast manager, community manager, bookkeeper
Systems: Systems audit or review to figure out what’s not working and why, identifying “highest and best use” of your time, hiring out for administrative tasks
Other recommend tools
Enriquez uses Streak as a tracker for leads and sales. She loves having a separate tool specifically for her sales pipeline. It plugs into Gmail, shows her the value of leads and tasks assigned for each, giving her a very sales-focused task manager.
Hindsight: What Enriquez would have done earlier
Enriquez admits she should have started hiring sooner. For such a small investment in a bookkeeper, podcast manager, and community manager, she has freed time in her calendar, allowed herself to take time off, and refined some of her systems.
Even if there were mistakes like miscommunication and other hiccups along the way, nothing drastic happened that hurt her business. One key to her success was having systems and processes clearly set up and documented, so she could easily hand them over to the person she hired.
For example, for her podcast manager, she built out a detailed Airtable per episode and they were able to create their process around that. For her GYST community manager, she also set up schedules and templates, and they only need to connect about once a month.
Enriquez shares, “When you build the systems yourself, it is so much easier to hand them off. Even if someone else has to build it for you, at least have an outline and be able to articulate what you’re trying to create through this process. Then it makes it really easy to bring somebody in.”
Advice from Enriquez: Starting simple and keeping it simple
When it comes to productivity tools and systems, Enriquez believes in starting simple based on what you have and what you need. “I’m a big fan now of, ‘Make it as simple as possible, work with what you have.’ As the need arises, the system might need to build on its complexity. But start simple, even if that has to be pen and paper, just to get your feet under you and until you can say, ‘Okay, here’s what I really need.’”
In her experience, she thinks she may have over-engineered her own systems when she was starting. She wasn’t even sure of her market and core service yet, but she spent a lot of time building her system. Little did she know she would shift her business focus some years later.
Enriquez talks about how it’s not just entrepreneurs who fall into the trap of overcomplicating their tools. Even big businesses make the mistake of acquiring complex CRMs that are “more than they can handle.” This is not only an unwise financial investment, but it could get counterproductive if the complex system just creates confusion and people are hesitant to use it.
Enriquez’s responsiveness to her market’s needs and willingness to test new services and formats have uncovered a series of opportunities. Listening to her market has helped her find her niche and scale up with GYST group coaching and the GYST membership community.
As a productivity coach, she highlights the importance of simplicity in systems and finding tools that support rather than overwhelm your business. And from firsthand experience, she knows how great the payoff is of bringing in people to help in your business.
Currently, Enriquez is working on a self-paced version of her free five-day challenge, “Dare to Prioritize,” to kickstart one’s productivity journey. We look forward to the new programs and offerings Enriquez will launch in the near future (whether on purpose or accidentally)!
Enriquez’s Read List
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Enriquez’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
Scaling & Success Stack
More About Elise Enriquez
Elise Enriquez is a Productivity Coach who guides people to breakthroughs in life and business by illuminating what’s next. Elise is your guide for discovering and doing what matters so you and your team take steps and leap forward to your next achievement. She takes her experience in the operational world of corporate America, the entrepreneurial world of real estate, and the transformational world of coaching to help you move forward with what matters most.
If you would like to take a peek into her type of coaching, she runs a free five-day challenge every quarter:
To learn more, go to: