Maria Allshouse launched her business on the strength of her personal journey. As a younger woman she was overweight, lacking confidence and her health was at risk. Determined to take control of her life and her future, at the age of 43 she lost over 120 pounds and has maintained that weight for the past eight years! This personal transformation led her to the realization that if she could do it, why not help others.
So, when her employer decided to downsize the business, Maria went through a period of reflection aimed at deciding, “what’s next”. Her answer led to a leap of faith resulting in the creation of the Maria Allshouse, Wellness for Life business. It is based on giving people hope that it’s never too late in life to change. That they too could live vibrant, active, mentally healthy lives and begin a new, healthy lifestyle.
How SCORE Helped:
To help start Maria on her quest, she conducted an internet search for entrepreneurial help and found Pittsburgh SCORE. This led to face-to-face mentoring that resulted in the formulation of her business plan. “The planning process helped me develop a logical, sustainable document that holds me accountable”, says Maria. She learned to conduct her own market research along with creating an initial go to market plan. Local SCORE mentor, Mark Fallek, adds, “Maria came with a passion and an ideal personal story. With a little support and knowledge of the process, she did the rest.”
The business launch proved tricky due to the breadth and undefined nature of the wellness market. The first year of operation led Maria down a number of pathways helping her to better define her target market and develop better focus. During this time period she learned, “The realism of being an entrepreneur, and the roller-coaster-ride that entails, with all the emotional ups and downs.” She experienced the importance of developing relationships and connecting with like minded people. And that selling sometimes means, “The person I’m talking to may not be my client, but they could know one.”
As her wellness business enters its second year Maria is focused on helping people transition to a healthy lifestyle ‘one habit at a time’ based upon her own personal success. Sharing her story is a large part of moving customers to meet their goals. One story she likes to share relates to a woman she worked with over the past year. This client not only lost weight but gained a healthier mindset, increased confidence and self-acceptance. She discovered that life is much more than just her job and that her potential in life includes helping people in many other ways. As Maria says, “She’s defined by more than just a number on a scale.”
Maria continues to work with her SCORE mentor and recently set her goals for the New Year. This includes changing 50 people’s lives and to reach a revenue level that meets the lifestyle to which she aspires. She is introducing a new business program that better achieves her customer’s goals based on helping them build on early successes. She feels that choosing to work with a mentor, “Helped me better face the uncertainties related to a startup business and to focus on my target market.”
SOURCE: SCORE Pittsburgh – pittsburgh.score.org
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