How a business coach is helping these Alexandria filmmakers thrive
In March of 2020, while everything in the world was shutting down for the pandemic, Rachel Geyen and Alicia Bertram were starting up a business. It wasn’t a great time to start anything, but their vision was clear.
“We just saw a need in our community to share stories of people’s small businesses through video,” says Alicia. Their company, Real Films, creates short films that tell the stories of local business owners. (Check out one of their films here and here!)
“One thing we learned through COVID,” says Rachel, “is that people want connection. If our stories can allow customers to feel more connected, they’re going to feel more invested in those businesses.”
“If our stories can allow customers to feel more connected, they’re going to feel more invested in those businesses.”
Business is booming.
The duo made five films in their first year, and they haven’t slowed down since. They’ve worked with everyone from a Harley Davidson dealer, to a vineyard owner, to officials running the county fair.
On seeing the demand, they started thinking about what else they could achieve.
“We’re growth people,” says Alicia. “We always want to be learning how to do better, and to be better.”
Could free business coaching help?
Alicia and Rachel had heard the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission offers free business coaching, so they went to the AAEDC website, found the business coaching section, and chose a time that worked for them.
“We were a little nervous to have a coach,” admits Rachel. Yes, both of them are driven to succeed, but, as Alicia puts it, “Our families have always been our first priority.”
Would a coach understand that?
Their fears were quickly dispelled.
They met their coach on Zoom. He assured them he was only there to support their goals.
“It was phenomenal,” says Alicia. “It was supportive. It wasn’t pushy. Our business coach said his goal was to help us learn how to ask the right questions.”
She continues: “We talked a lot about growth, and about the difference between growth and success. One person might think they need to have 50 employees, but someone else might feel like success is finally having a work-life balance.”
By the end of the appointment, Alicia and Rachel had some homework to do on their own, and they could schedule a followup whenever they were ready.
They felt none of the pressure they were concerned about—only support.
“It was phenomenal. It was supportive. It wasn’t pushy. Our business coach said his goal was to help us learn how to ask the right questions.”
Balancing family and filmmaking
For Real Films, having a coach has helped them clarify their vision.
“The coaching has allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we’re doing really well,’” says Alicia. “‘We’re working. We’re growing. We don’t have to be in Fargo next year. We don’t have to be nationwide in five years. We don’t have to do it all right now.’”
So, with a renewed focus, Real Films is continuing to tell the stories in and around their community.
“We couldn’t imagine growing our business really anywhere besides Alexandria,” says Rachel.