Discover Next Step
Barbara Gustavson always had a talent for coaching and mentoring, but her job as a financial analyst did not provide many opportunities for her to pursue this passion. After eleven years, she realized she needed a career change.
“The pay was great, the people were great, but I just felt something was missing,” she explains. Founding Discover Next Step, her coaching and consulting business, filled that empty space.
Barbara teaches clients simple strategies to help them determine the next steps in their personal and professional life. She also promotes holistic well-being and effective communication for teams. Her approach, which she developed through working with renowned psychologist Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinic, focuses largely on brain health. This research-informed method promotes creativity, fulfillment, and innovation, which all contribute to workplace productivity.
Working with the University of Mary Washington SBDC allowed Barbara to expand her business to mentor more people along their personal and professional journeys. Barbara reached out to the SBDC after receiving an email advertisement. At the time, she felt isolated from her local community and wanted a supportive team around her.
“It has been such a lifeline for me,” Barbara says, reflecting on her SBDC courses and one-on-one mentoring. “They’ve been so supportive of me in developing my mission statement, vision statement, and everything I’ve needed for my business.”
Her favorite SBDC offering is the women’s mentorship program organized by her advisor, Susan Ball, whom she calls an incredible connector. “If I was struggling in an area, she would immediately know who could help me,” says Barbara.
The pandemic posed new challenges for Barbara as businesses cut professional development budgets. To help Discover Next Step stay afloat, the SBDC helped her market her entrepreneur reset program to struggling businesses, as well as take on other new opportunities, including consulting for Dr. Daniel Amen as his new Brain Health Licensed Trainer Program Director. She also adopted a brain-based approach to executive coaching, which increased her sales.
“There’s such a need for mental-health support in the world,” Barbara says. “My vision is really just to grow a community of experts who want to make a difference.”
Barbara’s partnership with the SBDC has made her vision a reality. She recommends the SBDC to other small business owners, calling its advisors “socially responsible visionaries” with “amazing ideas about how to help people at a deeper level and make a social impact.”
As Barbara supports her clients, the SBDC will continue supporting her.