EB – What was your education and professional experience before becoming an entrepreneur? Were they helpful to starting your businesses?
RR – I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers University and my master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from Iona College. After graduating from Rutgers, I took the opportunity to pursue “a unique social work opportunity” with a start-up online matchmaking company in NYC. I then went on to do matchmaking, marketing, and recruiting for well-known companies. In between my employment with these organizations, I began finding my own freelance clients for Relationship Coaching. I found these people through Craigslist.com, Lambent Services, and soon from the referrals of satisfied clients.
The profound understanding of human nature that I acquired from my education is a tremendous asset to my coaching practice. My post-modern, solution-focused training as a therapist has provided an excellent foundation for helping clients in a coaching context. I have learned a lot about relationships from doing couples counseling and through my first-hand experience interviewing singles for matchmaking companies. Years of recording feedback on the dating experience of men and women have provided me with valuable lessons on the impact of gender on relationships. A combination of such experience coupled with my own worldview has shaped my practice as a Relationship Coach.
EB – When did you establish your businesses?
RR – I have been working as a freelance Relationship Coach since September of 2007.
EB – Why did you decide to start your business?
RR – I decided to become involved in the business of relationship coaching because it seemed like a natural progression for someone with my education and experience in the dating industry. Coaching was something I was bound to fall into after years of analyzing my friends’ relationships and offering them advice at 2 AM! I began by creating and remaking single’s online dating profiles for sites like Match.com. I soon discovered that I was really good at it. I decided to launch a career as a Relationship Coach, because I found a huge need that I was uniquely qualified to fill. Besides, it seemed fun!
EB – What’s your company’s mission?
RR – My mission is to save the world one relationship at a time. I help people find and maintain self-love as well as romantic love by promoting change in unhealthy thoughts and patterns of relating. I encourage an exploration of the ways in which gender, culture, media, socio-economic status, and family-of-origin experience have shaped their self-image and relationships. In my work as a Relationship Coach, I encourage clients to broaden their thinking about the process of finding a partner and use new strategies to attract and keep their ideal match. As a freelance writer, I create interesting, thought-provoking pieces that challenge and inspire people to be in more satisfying and fulfilling relationships.
EB – Tell us about your business and the services your provide.
RR – I offer Relationship Coaching via Internet, phone, and in person to singles as well as those who are coupled. Ideally, I meet everyone that I am working with at least once; although an hour long phone interview can produce just as much success. After an initial consultation in which I get to know someone and what he or she is looking for, I develop a coaching plan that will help the client achieve relationship goals. These plans are collaborative and personalized, designed to help a client get past the obstacles that prevent him/her from having the desired relationship. I give people homework assignments-journal writing tasks, exercises, and experiments that they do between sessions. I make sure that they are accountable for carrying out the “Relationship Vision” that we work hard to co-create in the initial sessions. All of my coaching sessions include powerful questions that bring out people’s strengths.
I work with a lot of singles who are looking to meet people both on and offline. I offer consultations in which I make personalized suggestions based on my experience. I conduct research as to which dating sites, matchmaking services, and events would be most suitable for a particular client. One of my specialties is Online Profile Creation and Profile Makeovers. I have a way of obtaining personal details and anecdotes from clients and then crafting profiles that truly stand out from the rest. I also write personals ads and letters of introduction to potential dates. I assist people in finding dates on various websites and often do all the online matchmaking for busy professionals who don’t have time to sift through lengthy lists of matches.
For people who prefer to meet their matches offline or gain confidence interacting with the ones they are already dating, I act as a Wing-woman and offer tips after observing their behavior in different contexts. I am happy to accompany clients to cultural and singles events, parties, coffeehouses, bars/loungers, galleries, museums, lectures, charity, functions, etc. If I work with a man who has his eye on a lady at the gym, I’ll request a guest pass and chat her up on the elliptical.
EB – What do you find most rewarding as an entrepreneur?
RR – To put it simply, I mostly get to do what I want. I enjoy the creative freedom of my work. I like pursuing things that are true to myself and my mission. I benefit from organizing my own schedule and working at the times when I have the most energy. A past employer called me a “free bird,” and she was right. I just want to live my life to the fullest and help others carry out their own dreams, sans the limitations of a 9 to 5.
EB – What advice would you give to busy women entrepreneurs that could help them with their personal relationships?
RR – It is important that a busy female entrepreneur has a partner who understands her commitment to work. She should build relationships with men who have similar outlooks on work and life-those who understand and support the challenges of making a living outside of cubicle nation. The goal is to have a partner who generally makes the time spent outside of work enjoyable and stress-free, and this can be difficult when two people have drastically different views on career. Entrepreneurs are a different breed who need to date those on the same page.
If a woman has achieved great success in the workplace and can’t seem to find a partner, she should team up with a friend or someone such as myself to help her navigate the challenges of finding a suitable mate. A lot of busy women would benefit from turning over their dating lives to a professional while focusing on doing whatever it is that they do best.
EB – This issue of WomenandBiz.com’s theme is “Sales Strategies”. Could you share with our readers, successful sales strategies you have developed and implemented to promote your service’s business?
RR – My number one strategy to promote business is based on a universal truth: People buy from those they like. Once they know me, they will like me! My current goal is to use social media to develop a strong online presence. On Twitter (I’m TheRealLoveGuru) and my Facebook fan page, I let a bit of my personality shine through while offering followers value through relationship tips. I frequently provide links to articles I write for sites like Examiner.com, Realbeautyis.com, Ezinearticles.com, and Selfgrowth.com.
EB – What are your plans for the future?
RR – I plan to always be the beautiful, smart, empowered “It” girl I write letters to on my blog. Yes, I want to be the one who is successful at whatever she does and has an equally great man to love her! In terms of work, there are many options that I’d like to explore. I want to expand my relationship coaching practice and become licensed as a Marriage & Family Therapist so that I can eventually have my own practice counseling couples, individuals, families, and groups. Another piece of my dream is to write for the glossies. I believe feature articles, a column of my own, and eventually a book or twenty are in my cards. Most of what I want to do is in cahoots with the work I am currently doing and will involve helping people in their relationships. However, I can see myself doing so much more. I am young and not afraid to admit it. Perhaps I should say: Hello world! Don’t be surprised if I throw you a few curve balls.
For more information about Rachel Russo, please visit www.statusmakeover.com.