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Exploring Life & Business with Barbara Zuleger of Performance Partners Coaching

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Zuleger.

Hi Barbara, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I have been a business owner for over 30 years. I have done the MLM thing, owned a franchise, bought existing businesses, started businesses from scratch, and purchased and combined multiple adjacent businesses. I ran them solo and ran them with my husband; had employees, independent contractors, and the familiar me-myself-I for team members. Some of these businesses were successful, and some of them not so successful.

I didn’t do this because I saw myself as an entrepreneur, but because I needed a flexible way to increase my personal income while holding down a job and raising a family. What I soon discovered is that I was born to be an entrepreneur–and it just took me a while to find myself.

My move into the world of Business Coaching came at one of the lowest points in my life. I was in my 40’s, with a large family (5 children!) to care for, and no college degree. Our custom awards business was struggling, and when the recession of 2008 hit hard, – something needed to change. The no-college-degree-thing was a challenge when applying for jobs. Regardless of my experience, I could not get past the first filter with online job applications. So, I went with my next best ideas: to start another business. My ‘noncollege-education’ came in the form of buying a franchise in business coaching which also came with intensive training.

This is a career I was introduced to a few years earlier when my husband and I hired a coach to help us with our fast-growing awards business that was struggling to make a profit. Honestly, I cannot say the experience with that coach helped us build a stronger business, but it did open my eyes to many things that I didn’t know I didn’t know. It also lit a fire in me to find the answer to why working really hard was not enough to build a sustainable, leveraged and profitable business.

I left the franchise half-way through the contract I had purchased when the experience made it impossible for me to have the quality of life my family deserved. However, the investment was worth it because it led me into the world where I still am, and where I was always meant to be: The world of helping entrepreneurs build the business they want to run that also supports their version of quality of life.

Since 2012, I’ve had the honor of working with thousands of entrepreneurial business owners helping them build a sustainable, leveraged and profitable business that gives them the quality of life they desire.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a smooth road in life. There definitely isn’t when you are building a business. There is always too much to do, or great ideas that time to implement, a ton to learn, and cash flow running the show. Instead of a boss, you have a whole community to please including clients, employees, partners, the relationships alone can be complicated to manage. The hardest thing about being a business owner is that business owners are human. We all make mistakes, question ourselves, have emotions that get in the way, and struggle to adjust our mindset–even when it is the biggest thing getting in the way.

One of the reasons I take what I do so seriously is to help my clients navigate the things I had to learn the hard way. If I can help one person avoid my mistakes, that’s a win.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Performance Partners Coaching?
Performance Partners was launched in 2012 when I left the franchise model of coaching behind and moved into coaching business owners with a personal approach.

The word partner in Performance Partners the name is intentional. I am a partner to my clients. I partner with other professionals who have specialized skills and expertise that help support business owners. The goal of these partnerships is to create ongoing support for business owners who want a business that works for them, instead of them working for and in the business.

I have worked with every version of ownership; solo / spouses / family / non-related partners / boards / nonprofit boards; in many different industries. The tools a business needs to be successful are the same regardless of the dynamics of the business. What varies is the vision of the owner. This is what makes my process unique. I work with business owners who have experience and success to build upon. We get real about what’s working, and what’s not. We clarify the direction for the future and lay out a specific plan to make it a reality.

Recently I have introduced programs designed for the unique needs of women business leaders. With women running more than 50% of all small businesses there is a need for coaching that they connect to. My clients get a coach they can connect with who doesn’t let them avoid the tough stuff. If it’s what their business needs, we find a way to create the breakthrough one step at a time.

We work on visions and goals, processes and systems, build teams that work together, and watch the numbers rise, as the shifts we create result in growth. . What makes this process unique is that we start where they are at. We ask the hard questions so we can find the right answers and we add connections with a community of business leaders who help provide them the support they need to keep going day after day.

My personal goal is to help more women build businesses that can do more than just help them get by. Working together they move from overwhelmed and overworked business owners to focused, confident, calm business leaders.

These businesses can give them the quality of life they want and help them support others in this community with jobs and outstanding companies to do business with. Strong women build strong businesses which in turn build strong families building strong communities.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I have lived in the Twin Cities my whole life. Growing up in south Minneapolis in the 70’s was a great childhood for me. My experience was a small town feel with big city amenities and a neighborhood that felt like extended family. We walked, biked, took the city bus wherever we wanted to go and rarely worried about safety.

My kids may be suburban kids, but I still see myself as a city girl. While raising our family, I was intentional about maintaining a connection and love for Minneapolis and St Paul. It is a wonderful place for business, with plenty of resources and skilled employees, and a community that likes to support local businesses.

The last few years have really been tough on this beautiful city. The beauty remains and I hope we can find a way back to the lively art scene, nightlife, and lake loving experiences and reputation that the Twin Cities deserves.

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Image Credits

Laine Torres Photography

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