Allison Walsh is a seasoned executive, philanthropist, speaker, professional consultant, and Miss Florida 2006. With over 20 years of experience in organizational leadership, mentorship, and career coaching, Allison’s platform strengthens the professional development of tomorrow’s most successful leaders. Her passion and expertise lie in helping women build their personal brands and businesses so they can live their most authentic and successful life.
Recognized by the Orlando Business Journal’s 2021 Top 40 Under 40 and Women Who Mean Business, Allison is a two-time CEO for successful coaching companies, managing the personal and professional development for more than 200 clients nationwide. Allison also serves as Vice President of Business Development and Branding for Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), a national provider and industry leader in behavioral healthcare. She is instrumental in developing worldwide brand recognition for the company and oversees the organization’s national sales team, which generates seven figures in monthly revenue. Under Allison’s leadership during the pandemic, the productivity and efficiency of her team resulted in a 38% increase in opportunities year over year. Evident by her prolific corporate accomplishments, Allison serves as a contributing member for Forbes Business Development Council, Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, The Entrepreneur Leadership Network, and Orlando Business Journal’s Leadership Trust. By combining her unique coaching curriculum experience, Allison helps women identify career opportunities, engage with their community, and breathe life into passion projects.
Allison is the author of multiple published workbooks on personal and professional development and the creator of the She Believed She Could Society, an online community and coaching experience designed to empower, support, and equip women with the tools they need to elevate their brand and businesses. Dedicated to illuminating the experience of impactful women, Allison is also the creator and host of The She Believed She Could Podcast, and co-host of Dear Mind, You Matter, both of which are available on iTunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube.
StarCentral magazine recently caught up with Allison and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I started my business after winning the Miss Florida competition in 2006. I was highly motivated from my win and became obsessed with helping others get amazing results and secure their own wins! So I started taking my own experiences, learning new skills, noting how I accomplished milestones and started working with clientele, specifically women, and coaching them for professional and personal growth. Originally I was looking for a way to earn an income while making an impact. Still, it wasn’t until 2009 that I really started treating my company as a priority due to my husband losing his job in the recession. I knew there was even greater potential, so I partnered with a dear friend in the same professional realm and expanded the business, which was such an incredible experience. In 2015, I returned to solo practice and evolved what I offered to reach a new clientele. Fast forward to 2021, and my niche has continued to evolve as I have. In addition to running my own business, I’ve built other very successful businesses along the way. Coaching and consulting have always provided so much joy, and I am eternally grateful to the amazing clients I’ve had the chance to work with.
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
I first started a nonprofit when I was 18 – I had struggled pretty severely with eating disorders in high school. After that, I really felt like I wanted to help others so that they didn’t have to go through what I went through when I had felt very alone. I had started competing in the Miss America organization that same year, and I had intended that I wanted to win Miss Florida and compete in Miss America. The relationships that I built while I was competing helped motivate me to start that nonprofit and start my first coaching business when I was 24!
What did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
I have been an entrepreneur in some way, shape, or form for more than half of my life and have had so many wonderful experiences since a young age! I honestly don’t remember ever not being in the entrepreneurial realm!
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
I absolutely love helping others achieve success! I celebrate ALL of the wins, no matter how big or small, and no matter if they’re mine or that of my client. It’s really easy to just keep pushing and chasing the next big goal, but eventually, you run out of steam. Pausing and celebrating progress fuels the fire and helps us go farther, faster. Plus, you’ve got to enjoy the journey — otherwise, what’s the point? Additionally, my children motivate me every day! Not only do I want to show them, especially my young girls, what you can achieve in life with hard work, but they’re also inspiring me every single day.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Whirlwind. The life of an entrepreneur can sometimes feel like a roller coaster. I love it, but it’s so important that you adopt the mentality that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Combined with all the other things in life, sometimes I feel like I’m dropped off at the end of the day fresh out of a powerful tornado. It’s exhilarating, yet also not for the faint of heart, and I am so grateful to be able to experience it.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
- Helping others has always been something that has both inspired and motivated me throughout my life.
- Being able to create my own opportunities is incredibly important in this day and age. I can rest easy knowing that my success is in my hands, not the hands of people or companies who may not have my best interest at heart.
- Unlimited earning potential!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
You absolutely must have clarity on fiances, clarity on direction, the ability to evaluate what is and is not working. Additionally, you must be flexible in your approach to reaching your goals.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
- When my first partner and I evolved the business together, she was definitely the bold one, whereas I felt like I needed to fully research and overthink everything. This was a challenge for me early on, but she really helped me get outside of my comfort zone and go for it over the course of our years working together. Now, I have a wonderful mix of strong preparation and research mixed with trusting my gut and going with my intuition, which thus far has been spot on in business!
- One of my biggest learning curves during this pandemic was how important it is to have multiple streams of income and the benefits of being able to monetize your skill sets. Naturally, coaching and consulting lends themselves to flexibility and unlimited earning potential. I have always known this but never really had a chance to fully explore just how far I could push things and increase my earnings. During the pandemic, a new sense of survival thinking surfaced for many. I often thought about the “what ifs” for myself and my clients. These thoughts gave me the idea to refresh several of my programs. I also reached further and created new programs and services that I had been inspired to create previously but had not done until that point. I leveraged the ability to scale online. If not for the pandemic, I would probably not have explored many of those opportunities and income streams. Still, I am so glad I did because now I have the ability to help my clients in more ways and coach other coaches on how to do it successfully. Not everything was smooth sailing, especially when there was so much uncertainty around us, but I quickly learned how fast I could bounce back.
- Stop overthinking and just go for it. I learned so much when things didn’t go right, and one of the biggest lessons is that procrastination, especially around launching something new, will never result in sales (it only delays progress). I got in my own way, more ways than I care to share, but now I’ve adopted the mentality that it’s better to put things out there than to talk myself out of doing what I know I need to do.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Podcasts! I host two podcasts right now; The She Believed She Could Podcast, where I share my insight and interview leading women (and sometimes men!) in their fields where they share how they accomplished their goals and what they’ve learned in the process. I also co-host of Dear Mind, You Matter, a conversation with mental health professionals to share insight, educate, and break the stigma associated with mental illness and behavioral health issues. I love this format as it allows me to share what I’m working on and the services I have to offer while filling up my listeners’ minds with valuable information that my guests are sharing. It’s been an awesome journey thus far and one that I am really looking forward to continuing.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
I have learned quite a few leadership lessons throughout my life, but some of my favorites are:
- Execution is paramount. There’s no such thing as million-dollar ideas – only million-dollar execution. Focus on getting things across the finish line. You can’t fully evaluate, adjust or replicate something effectively if it hasn’t been completed.
- Surround yourself with people that will help you be successful. Don’t get in your own way by trying to figure out everything yourself.
- Stay humble, hungry and always be the hardest worker in the room.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Done is better than perfect.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
We all have ideas, skill sets, passions, and talents that can be monetized if we’re willing to give it a try. Once you plan what you want to do, the most important and critical step is HOW. I see way too many people with brilliant ideas fail at execution – not because they weren’t capable – but because they allowed their excuses to be way louder than their WHY. Most of my clients work with me because they want and need accountability and guidance from someone who was once in their shoes. Many have tried to do it alone before, and their results weren’t what they had hoped. When I dig in further, the only thing standing in their way is themselves. That can show up as reasons like “not enough time,” “not enough money,” or “not enough support,” but in reality, we are in control much more than we give ourselves credit for. Is building a business easy? No. Is it worth it? 1000% yes. You grow stronger, more resilient, and more capable each and every day as an entrepreneur, and I promise you will be so impressed with your results if you commit to your “why” and stay crystal clear on your vision.