Back in 2000, the dot-com bubble was bursting and with it, Nancy Caballero Coughlin was out of a job…again. Downsized for the second time in her career as a Corporate Administrator for Technology departments on Wall Street, Nancy began thinking about other ways to work. When she spotted a small local ad for a course called “How to Start a Growing Profitable Business” by the Workshop In Business Opportunities (aka WIBO), Nancy knew she learns a much more efficient way to create her future. She enrolled in the WIBO course and started attending night school classes in Nutrition for her new business that she had been dreaming about for a long time. After graduating the WIBO course, Nancy opened her Holistic Health Counseling business catering to young families in the NYC Brooklyn area who were struggling to balance work and home life while improving their eating habits. “The WIBO workshop opened my eyes about how I could create the business life I wanted and not be subject to the whims of Wall Street,” says Nancy when asked about this particular turning point in her life.
Nancy recalls what she enjoyed most in her Nutrition counseling business were the client interaction and marketing aspects. She loved the freedom of creating her business, such as recommending balanced food plans, educating clients on topics like the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and giving presentations to potential clients. The business was called “Now Is The Thyme” and her first client was a fellow WIBO alumnus, Mr. Kori. Using the WIBO break-even formulas, Nancy was able to break even the first year and focus on building profits for the second year. However, after three years in total and 14 clients later, the counseling service required expansion into products in order to make more profits. Because she wasn’t interested in pursuing the myriad of health-related products (mostly gimmicks), Nancy decided to increase her involvement at WIBO instead. She had started volunteering with WIBO shortly after graduating from the program and found it very exciting work. The WIBO Executive Director invited Nancy to join the staff as Program Manager in order to grow the organization. Nancy was tasked with merging the current volunteer pool of instructors with her newly recruited instructor team and join them all together for a more uniform approach to delivering the curriculum. Working at WIBO was a really enjoyable way to put into practice all of the marketing ideas Nancy had been thinking about while taking the course. It was another turning point in Nancy’s life, as well as a turning point in the WIBO history where more marketing of the program started to take place.
After the Nutrition business and being on WIBO staff, circa 2004, Nancy worked on two other small businesses: Real Estate Agent for Bellmarc, a boutique firm in Manhattan specializing in pre-war condos, and Freelance Software Trainer in telecom. The Real Estate industry was starting to implode (2005 housing bubble) and an extremely competitive marketplace made it a short-lived business. The training industry, however, was growing in comparison to real estate at the time, so upon the invitation of a friend, Nancy decided to go back to her love of delivering training and presenting information to Manhattan clients for a local telecom startup. Training clients were fast-paced, demanded long hours and lots of travel. Two years went by in a flash and the telecom startup grew quickly. After a promotion where she created an online training module to replace live training, Nancy left the telecom to work with a New Jersey job readiness program teaching Microsoft Office. Sometime around 2008, WIBO asked Nancy to fill in for a short time while they looked for a new Program Manager, which of course Nancy was glad to do. 2009 to 2010 was an exciting time as she met her husband, Peter, got married and moved to Long Island!
In 2010, while getting settled down with her new family, Nancy started yet another business as a Personal Home Organizer. She discovered that there were many families on Long Island with too much clutter in their houses and in their lives. “Nancy’s Home Organizing” service was born and for $30 per hour, you could have your entire kitchen re-organized. Nancy’s clients were Moms with too much to do, small business owners that were overwhelmed and even elderly people who were downsizing and moving to smaller homes. WIBO’s lessons in Sales helped tremendously, as Nancy had to work hard to find clients around the area. She was very busy and this grew into a steady source of income. Then, another life change came about; her husband’s job was transferred to Jacksonville Florida in the summer of 2011.
When they landed in Jacksonville, they noticed a lack of aquarium stores. This was important to the Coughlin’s as they had 3 fish tanks and a strong obsession with the marine hobby that had been bubbling for years. Peter became friendly with one of the local retail aquarium store owners as a customer and then was offered a ‘partnership’ in the business. However, after a short time reviewing the books and store operations, Nancy and Peter discovered that the store was losing money every day, the employees were stealing, inventory was perishing, vendors were charging too much and customers were almost non-existent. Yipes! Despite the problems, Nancy took on the project to help the business get back on its feet. First was the marketing project of awareness and branding with the new name, “Coral Reef Junkies”, and ramping up the store’s sales pipeline for tank maintenance service. Then came all the corrections to the failing operations, vendor agreements, employee procedures and a general stop to all the money losses. Soon, the original owner partner became overwhelmed with the reality of running a business correctly and quit. Nancy and Peter took over the store’s ownership and set about to grow the business in earnest. A few years later in 2014, they accomplished a tremendous amount and managed to attract a buyer for the store. It was an exhausting time in their lives but had a happy ending.
Around 2015, after resting from the famous fish store episode, Nancy looked around for another business to start. Jacksonville Florida was, and still is, experiencing a real estate boom, so Nancy once again shifted gears. The Coughlin rental business had started back in NYC with one apartment and one single-family home earlier, so Nancy simply had to revise her WIBO business plan to fit the Jacksonville environment. A strong point of the WIBO workshop is networking; meeting people and exchanging business ideas and information. Nancy set to work meeting the real estate movers and shakers of Jacksonville to see how it was done. She discovered the real estate community needed more Home Inspectors for all of the booming home sales. WIBO emphasizes having a solution to a problem as the basis of a good business; therefore, Nancy got interested in home inspections and attended a prestigious training program to become a Florida licensed Home Inspector. So far in 2016, the first year of Nancy’s Home Inspection business, clients have been receptive to her and the sales are starting to come in.
Luckily, Nancy has the full support of her family for her home inspection business. Her husband, Peter, helped spark the interest in home construction earlier when there were countless repairs and renovations to be done to the rental properties. Her daughter, Kaylee, also has the entrepreneur bug and has been baking cookies, cheesecake, and macaroons for neighbors and friends. Now, all she needs is the WIBO break-even formula! The family likes to go fishing, walking in the park with their two dogs and exploring new towns around Florida in their spare time. Nancy still volunteers in her spare time as well; she teaches homebuyer education courses at Jacksonville’s Habitat for Humanity.
From the first time Nancy attended WIBO class, she was hooked on the program. WIBO’s founder, Walter Geier, conducted the opening class. WIBO has taught me to be tangible, specific, focused and determined. “I would leave WIBO class like I was floating on a cloud, excited about my business and raring to go!” Nancy recalls of her Midtown class and peers.
Sometime in the near future, Nancy’s big-time dream goal (one of a few) is to open a WIBO location in Jacksonville Florida, where there are multiple areas in the city that could use a tangible, hands-on program to help start businesses. Please contact Nancy Coughlin on “Linked In” if you would like to help make that a reality.