"People do business with you because of who you are, not because you have the best widget," said Carol Cox, founder of Speaking Your Brand. Through speaking engagements, her podcast and private coaching sessions, Cox helps entrepreneurial and executive women excavate their stories, define their core message and create a breakthrough brand and signature talk that grows their business and influence. "I want to see more women in positions of influence and power," she said. "Having more women in boardrooms, running for office and heads of non-profits, will help to bring up issues that aren't getting covered. Studies even show that companies are more profitable with women in leadership positions."
Cox is right. Based on a study of over 200,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries, conducted by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies with women in top management positions are much more profitable. Increasing the percentage of women in top management spots from zero to 30% is associated with a 15% increase in profits. So who exactly does Cox help and what does she do for these women?
"Most of them are female entrepreneurs that have been in business for a couple years," she said. "They want to use their voices to raise awareness of their brands. They like to speak at local networking events and conferences and consult with me to create or polish their presentations. Most are in service-based professions."
Originally from Boca Raton, Cox attended the University of Florida and moved to Atlanta to attend graduate school at Emory University. While attending Emory, Cox learned computer programming and worked with her boyfriend at the time, now her husband, on various projects. They eventually started two business in the early 2000s that did everything from building online infrastructure for companies like Office Depot and Lowe's to building political software for political campaigns. In the spring of 2003, Cox and her husband moved to Orlando to be closer to family. About four years ago, Cox decided that she didn't want to look at code any longer. She wanted to work with people. "People always encouraged me to speak and said I was good at it," she said. "Everything came together and it just happened." Speaking Your Brand was born in 2015.
We asked Cox about the transition from the tech world to the coaching/consulting world and the challenge of setting your rates as a new business. "I knew I had to leverage my existing network," she said. "I had a pretty extensive local network. People knew my qualities, so I reached out to people I knew and got the word out by leveraging my network. I also got involved with some key online communities. I'm a big believer that you need to leverage both the online and local communities. I found that by investing in local communities, in terms of paying for coaching, mastermind groups and other services, they were more likely to invest in me. In regards to my prices, it's always a work in progress. My prices have gone up because I've gotten better at what I do. At first, I was doing great work, but I didn't have a real clear methodology of what I was doing with my clients. Now, I finally understand the process and the questions to ask to the get the responses I need. I've developed a framework to take my clients through. What used to take six sessions now takes a half a day. I'm much more efficient now."
Cox offers personalized one-on-one coaching designed to identify and build out your 'Signature Talk' and/or to make your current presentation more persuasive. Whether you're looking to generate leads, become a thought leader in your field or you need to prepare for keynote presentation, Cox has a package that's right for you.
Cox shared that approximately a third of her clients are local. The rest are scattered around the United States and some are international. Some of this nation-wide and international exposure can be attributed to Cox's podcast, which launched in February of 2017. "I've been an avid podcast listener for 10 years," she said. "I always knew I wanted my own podcast. It's been the best thing I've done for my business. I provide consistently relevant content on a weekly basis. To me, this shows my clients that I'm committed to them. There's nothing like building your own audience and your own community. Some episodes feature guests and other episodes are on-air coaching calls where listeners can hear firsthand how I go through the training and coaching process."
Looking ahead, Cox wants to scale to impact more people. She wants to train and license other people to be able to offer her framework to their clients. She also wants to focus on offering more workshops.
What advice does Cox have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "I believe in starting small," she said. "It's not reasonable for most people to quit their day job and go all in. If you do that, financial responsibilities will create too much stress. Carve out some hours and start small. From what my clients tell me, it takes about 18 months to 2 years to get to where you can replace your regular salary with predictable business revenue.