Arquella Hargrove was so good at her corporate human resources job that she launched a coaching business, Alchemy Consulting Group, to help established businesses struggling to evolve their organizational cultures.
Alchemy Consulting, located in Houston, Tx., has long been a success, but not simply because of Arquella’s HR expertise. Soon after launching the business Arquella realized that running a business is more than just doing what the founder is good at. There is also hiring a team, managing payroll, signing leases, paying taxes (but not more than required), regulatory compliance, marketing, etc. Many people who try turning their job into a business quickly have the same realization.
Hargrove has launched a second coaching program, called The Growth Coach of Northeast Houston, to help entrepreneurs with leadership training and one-on-one coaching for sales professionals, managers, management teams, and self-employed professionals. We talked with Arquella Hargrove about her business, her experience of growing a successful business, and what her clients are looking for when they retain her services.
Peter Page: Let’s start with you telling me a little bit about your business, The Growth Coach of Northeast Houston. Describe your typical client.
Arquella Hargrove: Our focus is businesses looking to scale their businesses, as well as looking to grow their teams. Our commitment is to help those business owners to discover new ways of managing their business and their life by guiding them through a unique coaching process called The Strategic Mindset. The goal is to help those business owners and their teams to really find their “why.”
Why am I doing this business? How do I make an impact in the world? That strategic mindset helps the business owner to really think about a much bigger picture. It helps them to slow down, face reality and then map out a course to achieve their goals. I’m big on setting a plan and working that plan for success.
Peter Page: What is The Strategic Mindset coaching process?
Arquella Hargrove: The Strategic Mindset Coaching process provides ongoing accountability to set that plan of action.
It really focuses on their motivation for starting their business and how to scale their businesses. The strategic mindset really helps business owners to gain clarity around what is their vision? How do they want to change or impact the world? What direction do they want to go in? How will the team help them to meet their goals based on the direction selected by the business owner? It really helps with best practices and strategies that they can apply after listening to their peer business owners, as well as strategies outlined in the curriculum.
How do busy business owners use those systems to achieve their goals? This strategic mindset helps business owners to achieve that, with accountability for sure.
The strategic mindset process relates to team building, team performance, sales mastery, and generally understanding how to gain more revenue within our businesses, as well as how to build high performance teams.
Peter Page: Is sales something that can be taught? I know this is a perennial debate, as to whether successful salespeople are just born that way or if any person with average or better intelligence can learn how to sell.
Arquella Hargrove: That’s a good question. I think it’s a combination. Just use myself as an example. Most of my business comes through referrals based on people who know me, who have worked with me. Or maybe they saw me speaking or read an article I contributed. However, for me, sales is really about making and building relationships because I am not a salesperson. I am like, oh my gosh, it is terrifying.
But there are some people and that’s just their personality. They can sell ice to a person in cold weather. They are just naturally gifted at business development and sales, but with others it takes a little bit more effort and some training to get them to that place. So I think it could be a combination of both, based on my experience.
Peter Page: What’s bringing people to you and what are they asking for? What are clients hoping to get from working with you?
Arquella Hargrove: It varies but nine times out of 10 it is something to do with their teams. How do I manage a team? Or how do I hire a rockstar team? They want to grow their business, or it is growing, and they need the people.
A lot of business owners are really looking to build their team, or to manage their team effectively. I meet clients where they are, based on those pain points, and work with them to get past those challenges. Typically the issue is around teams, hiring the best people and how to retain those people. Sometimes they want help with building cash flow. What can they do to bring in revenue quickly? That might be a focus, but typically, it’s around teams.
Another issue is managing their own time effectively. How much time should they be spending on sales or business development? How much time should they spend on doing all those other things and when should they hire other people to do it for them, so they can be the face of their business? We start with an assessment to understand what’s currently going on, what are their pain points or challenges. We start there on the coaching journey.
Peter Page: People often start a business because they’re good at some particular skill. Somebody who can build things might become a contractor, or a chef would want to open a restaurant, but then they find there are many other activities involved with running a business, like hiring and managing people, managing a payroll, and compliance. How often do people come to you feeling overwhelmed by all the parts of the business that are either catching them by surprise?
Arquella Hargrove: That’s very common. A lot of times, people are like “Oh my gosh, I’m good at this. I’m gonna start a business.” But they don’t know the ins-or-outs of actually running a business successfully. We look a what’s working and what are the resources that are needed? How do we make sure we’re leveraging other collaborative partners, or their team, or outsourcing as necessary?
For me, the goal is helping people start a business they are passionate about. When we want to make an impact in the world, everything else will follow, so it’s really getting people to that point of, hey, what are you passionate about doing? They need to know who their customers are, who their audience is. and then approaching it with that strategic mindset so that everything else can fall in place?
I encourage clients who are feeling overwhelmed to become a part of a collective or a collaborative, to have a group of other business owners who are going through similar situations or who’ve been there, done that and can definitely be a resource and a mentor. I have a collaborative network for business owners to come together to support each other, to collaborate. That makes our lives easier, because yeah, some of us have been doing this for just a few years and then some, like myself, who have been doing it much longer are able to provide some insights to help others get past some of the barriers they’re seeing new business owners.
One thing that shows up across all businesses is payroll. How do you make sure you’re doing payroll correctly so you’re in compliance with IRS rules and the rules of your state? Another thing that comes up is setting up processes and systems to make sure that your business is scaling, they are leveraging outsourcing appropriately. Most businesses have to market to gain the clients and attraction. Business development and sales may look different for different businesses and industries but everyone is grappling with selling their services. Social media is different for different industries, but that comes up. What social media platform do we use? Are my clients on LinkedIn? Are they on Facebook or Tik Tok?
And then we make sure business owners understand what is a profit and loss statement, that they’re meeting with their accounting team and have a financial system in place, like QuickBooks. Those common things that come up all the time when we’re talking about how to run a business effectively and efficiently.
Peter Page: You are an expert in diversity, inclusion, equity. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision banning race-based affirmative action admissions at Harvard, there has been considerable speculation that corporations would lessen their commitment to diversity. What are you seeing?
Arquella Hargrove: Some organizations are just assessing where they are but many companies will continue to do the right thing to ensure that their workforces are diverse, that they’re being inclusive and equitable. They want to be aligned with the changing demographics of our society and mindful of our LGBTQ+ to continue to recruit and retain talent. Hopefully, organizations are continuing to stay the journey, despite what’s happening, because it just makes business sense and it’s the right thing to do.