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Scaling Up Certified Coach Bruce Eckfeldt has been on the move the past couple of years. “A lot of companies have seen opportunities in the shifting landscape of the pandemic,” he says.
About one-third of his coaching practice is made up of high-growth cannabis companies, such as labs and packaging companies. “A lot of what we’re working on is strategic planning, operations planning,” says Eckfeldt, based in Fort Lee, N.J.
Eckfeldt got into coaching in 2002, after serving as CEO of a technology company. He focused on agile transformations. He has concentrated on strategic coaching for the past 6-7 years. In 2016, he became a Scaling Up Certified Coach. “I had used Scaling Up in my business,” he says. “I was very familiar with the tools.”
Here are some of the strategies he has used to grow his coaching practice.
Invest time in developing as a coach. Eckfeldt dove into learning about the many ways to use the Scaling Up tools. “Learning how to use the tools and to apply them within a company to create value is important,” he says. It’s also important to spend time learning how to coach and getting feedback, he advises. “That’s very different from being a CEO and executive,” he says.
Jump on the trends. Although Eckfeldt has worked with a variety of real estate and technology companies, he has stayed open to other fast-growing industries. The cannabis industry has been growing so rapidly the past few years that it has become mainstream, attracting many professionals from fields such as consumer packaged goods, finance and pharmaceuticals, he has found. With this influx of talent, he finds, “It’s becoming more sophisticated.”
But many in the industry share common challenges. “You’re dealing with an agricultural crop,” says Eckfeldt. “There are price fluctuations.” At the same time, the regulatory climate is complex. “They are dealing with random regulatory changes, random changes in how the government enforces regulations,” says Eckfeldt. And the IRS tax code prevents cannabis businesses from deducting ordinary business expenses, putting pressure on profits.
Eckfeldt is also seeing growth in his practice from psychedelics companies. For instance, one gaming/technology company is using virtual reality to create simulated psychedelics experiences. “Most of these companies are looking for compounds and models for drug development,” he says.
Understand clients’ pain points. The biggest challenge to scaling cannabis businesses, he has found, is a lack of senior talent in the industry. “Most of the folks I work with are starving for senior talent,” he says. “They do a lot of battlefield promotions, based on good, raw capabilities.” He works with their internal leaders on how to engage with their teams. Ultimately, for many firms, the success of the company boils down to answering one key question: “How do I get my team behind this plan?”
Master marketing. To build his coaching practice, Eckfeldt has embraced content marketing, producing several podcasts: Scaling Up Services, Thinking outside the Bud and Tripping outside the Box. “Podcasts are a key part of my marketing,” he says. He has also written about 150 articles. “It’s important to be known for a couple of things, so you’re highly referable,” he says.