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Entrepreneurs Corner — Hollen: Passion, self-discipline keys to success

Former newspaper executive now finds himself running his own small business

The entrepreneurial bug often makes itself felt early in life.  That wasn’t the case with Phil Hollen, however.

For a good part of his life, Phil pursued a career in marketing and management in the publishing industry, working with major companies and publications in the West, Northeast and Southeast, culminating in a management position at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson.  When the opportunity for a “buy-out” came along, Phil decided to “go in a totally different direction,” and his research led him to become an associate and franchisee for Action Coach, which bills itself as “the world’s number one business coaching firm.”

Phil Hollen told the Mississippi Business Journal that in order to be successful, “you had better have a tough stomach, the passion to succeed and crystal clear goals if you expect to succeed.And you had better be self-disciplined.”

Phil Hollen told the Mississippi Business Journal that in order to be successful, “you had better have a tough stomach, the passion to succeed and crystal clear goals if you expect to succeed.And you had better be self-disciplined.” Photo by STEPHEN McDILL/ Mississippi Business Journal

“That’s something that really appealed to me,” he said.  “From my many years of working with all kinds of businesses in my advertising role, I had a lot of opportunities to learn about businesses, their problems and their needs.”

Armed with that knowledge and a certain level of confidence in his own abilities, Phil headed off to the Action Coach training program, an intense and concise education in coaching and working with businesses of different types and sizes.

“That was a demanding experience, but it was also rewarding,” he said.  “It’s the best training I ever experienced, and the company is very supportive of its’ representatives.”

Despite that support and training, though, Phil found that success in the field required a lot of effort, determination and dedication.

“It wasn’t like working for the Clarion,” he said.  “Not at all.  I found that what really counts most is the ability to network and get to know people in different ways.”

He found that many of the people he talked with didn’t really understand what a “business coach” does, much less how it might benefit their businesses.

“Let’s just say it took a lot of educating, a lot of patience and the willingness to go back however many times I needed to,” he said.  “It took longer than I had expected to get my first clients.”

Nonetheless, he stuck with the program, and finally his efforts began to pay off with new clients.

“I think I was guilty of trying to short-cut my own system,” he said.  “When I finally stuck to it, the system worked.”

Today, Phil is working with a number of clients, and there are more in the works.  He’s seen some excellent successes in his coaching work, and he’s positive about the future.

“I’ll say this … you had better have a tough stomach, the passion to succeed and crystal clear goals if you expect to succeed,” he said.  “And you had better be self-disciplined.”

Among the things he loves about his work are the opportunity to work hands-on with people.

“All my life, I’ve been a people person,” he said.  “I’m not the type to be content sitting behind a desk.  What I most enjoy is the challenge of helping business owners put it all together and make it work.”

In his work, Phil is active in a variety of trade associations, groups, and chambers.

“There really is no substitute for that, for the need to network and get to know people,” he said.

He thinks a lot of would-be entrepreneurs fail because they don’t take time to plan and count the cost.

“You really have to know why you want to be in business, and there are lots of bad reasons,” he said.  “You had certainly better do your due diligence at every step of the way, because failure is always lurking right around the corner.”

For many people, Phil believes the right avenue to go would be with a franchise opportunity.

“You get the support, the program, the system, the proven value,” he said.  “That doesn’t guarantee success, but nationwide the success ratio for franchises is a lot higher than start-from-scratch businesses.”

He also thinks it’s vital to understand your own market.

“I’ll admit that I started out trying to work with the wrong types of people,” he said.  “When I came to understand who were my more appropriate prospects, my results improved.”  He thinks this is probably a common mistake many people make in their businesses.

This isn’t Phil’s very first venture in business.  As a young man, he was part of a small family venture called the Oregon Runner, which sold shoes and related items.  That was more of a part-time enterprise, and he gave it up to focus on his publishing career.

After many years in that career, Phil Hollen finds himself back at the beginning — starting and managing a business venture of his own.

“I wouldn’t trade it,” he said.  “There’s something to be said for the experience of being an entrepreneur later in life, when you have all that experience under your belt.”


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