CARY – With a small son at home, a teenage nephew to raise and a growing business to manage, Victoria Cook was always feeling torn.
“I soon found myself feeling a little guilty when I was at work and away from [my son] and when I was with my family and spending time there, I also felt the pull and the twinges of guilt of, gosh, all the things that are not getting done, the inbox overflowing,” Cook said.
That guilt inspired the name behind her business coaching enterprise, originally the Guilt-Free Coach but rebranded the Center for Guilt-Free Success last fall.
The new name comes with expanded training offerings and more in-person events, including Success Circles where women entrepreneurs can get advice and share stories.
“I’ve walked in their pumps, and I came out the other side. Have I done everything perfect? Absolutely not, but I feel like I’ve got tools and resources that I’ve been able to use in my own life and then can teach and help my clients use in theirs.”
Cook also works with men, but she finds her message of learning how to balance personal and professional obligations resonates more with women. She also finds women are more likely to struggle with promoting their business or feel awkward charging for their services.
“Women wear all kinds of hats, and they’re struggling to balance all of that, the business side as well as the family aspect,” she said. “They just indulge in way too much guilty behavior.”
Much of the guilt comes from three key areas, she said.
The first is the should or shouldn’t dilemma, in which women are trying to live up to everyone’s expectations – family, cultural beliefs and societal norms – without having a clear idea of what is important for them and their business.
The second is what Cook calls the type A trap. It’s when women continually try to meet their own self-imposed high standards without reevaluating whether those still work.
And the final area is the three O’s, overwhelmed, overworked and overcommitted.
Cook offers her advice in step-by-step instructions and tangible ideas, she said.
It’s helpful to have a woman’s perspective, said Lauren Young, the owner of Freshly Baked Communications and one of Cook’s clients. Her company, along with Roots Education Center, also hosts some of Cook’s live events.
“It’s like talking to a friend,” Young said. “I feel like I can be completely honest. Even if you have a successful business, there are always things you can improve or challenges you’re facing. I feel like I can be honest with her and get real feedback.”
Cook hopes to continue to expand training opportunities and hold more live events. As her brand grows, she hopes to trademark her approach and license it out to other coaches to use.
She works primarily with small business owners in the service sector, including accountants and chiropractors.