I recently had the honor and privilege to be interviewed by Startup Veteran® where I discussed my military background and how it helped lead me to coaching business owners and executives to grow their companies. I thank Startup Veteran® for the opportunity to share my story. You can read the entire interview below.
Steve Ferman, Marine Corps Veteran, Owner of 4 Pillar Coach
I’m Steve Ferman. I was in the USMC from 1979 to 1984 and was a Corporal but was up for Sergeant promotion if I stayed in. Interesting duty assignment, I was sent to Okinawa where I lived off Base and had a car as well as brought my wife over to Japan with me. I was then deployed to the USS Blue Ridge 7th fleet communications ship which carried the 7th fleet commander on board, for a 6 months tour, but our ship had propeller issues and we spent a few months in Yokosuka Japan where I saw Queen at Budokan Stadium in February 1981, we then left Japan and spent 3 months at sea visiting Korea, and the Philippines where we took part in Operation Re-entry (mock War) on Mundoro Island and then back to Okinawa Japan, then I spent 2 years at New River Air Base and had a few deployments to Germany and Denmark.
I own 4 Pillar Coach in Madison, NJ since 2021. Additionally, I have built, bought, and sold 6 companies prior to starting this one, all in the Tech space.
We help CEOs and Executives get clarity on business goals and objectives, by focusing on core values, brand promise and by removing drama all while helping them grow and scale their companies by 10X. We make scaling the business fun.
My mission as a certified business coach is to help people grow and scale the company all while bringing accountability and priorities for the management team to focus on and achieve the goals that we set all by using a proven methodology called Scaling Up that focuses on the 4 D’s decisions that all business owners need to get right and that is People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. Scaling up coaches have helped 80,000 companies grow and scale.
Markets we serve are individual CEOs and midsize firms from 5M to 100M with 3+ on the executive team and we focus on the tech space but Scaling up methodology applies to all business industries.
I came up with the idea because I have been an entrepreneur that has started, built, bought, and sold 6 companies over the years and the reason I get up every day is to help people. If I can help people not make the same mistakes I did and share my real-world experiences to help them grow and scale then I am meeting my life purpose. I have also been in EO Entrepreneurs Organization for 8 years and 4 of them have coached companies to help them reach the million dollar sales revenues to be a member of EO, these companies are doing between 250,000 to 1 MIll, in revenues so becoming a certified coach was something that I did not have to do but I wanted to get the certification and methodology under my belt so I could be a better coach.
It took me a year of learning and studying to become certified. It could have been shorter but I was running my VCIO Virtual Chief Information Officer business to pay the bills while learning the methodology.
It took roughly $30k to get it up and running over the year. I raised the money to get started while working with my other company www.eTegrity.net at the same time.
I looked at other coaching programs like EOS, Action Coach, and a few others but since I am in EO and we use the scaling-up methodology and I really resonated with the 4 decisions that every company must get right and that’s People, (right people on the bus in the right positions. Strategy, (having a set of core values, purpose, brand promise, and goals for the entire organization) Execution, (good systems, processes, meetings, and routines to achieve the goals), and cash because growth sucks cash and in a downturn, you need 6 months reserve to survive it. So I choose Scaling up.
Scaling up provides a mentor that helps you in getting certified and guides you along the way.
I got my first customer before I got certified – actually, in my 4th month of learning Scaling Up, but to be fair I had been coaching for 4 years already. This customer was a referral from networking.
My biggest influence was being coached for 13 years at the Strategic Coach and graduating from the Master’s program.
What drove me to entrepreneurship was my father who owned his own business and worked hard to support his 6 kids but I worked with him as a child and it instilled in me that helping people while doing what you love is not work, it’s doing what you love and getting paid for it. I mowed lawns, and shoveled snow as a kid. I have always been an entrepreneur.
I did not work at a corporate job because I like to be my own boss. I am really unemployable, I am very strong-willed and a visionary.
“Working for someone else felt stifled and restrained from using my creative mind to solve problems.”
The military taught me many things about accountability and transparency but mostly taught me how to be a leader and how to adapt and overcome obstacles. It also taught me that systems, processes, and routines will set you free, and this translates to the business coaching world, and helping others achieve the same.
I was trained as a wireman, and once I gained my NATO Top Secret clearance I moved to the communication center and supervised the Top Secret Communication Center of 20 Marines.
I think it’s normal to have limiting or lack of belief in yourself, heck happens to me even today 40 years after the service. The trick is what you do about it and having a positive mindset can get you through anything.
“We are stronger than we think and the mind is the most powerful tool in the tool box but you have to have the right mindset and everything falls into place.”
Like most people, I did not grow up wealthy. I worked for everything I have ever gotten but the cool thing is that no one can take my pride away from me, I am who I am because I had some good fortune of outside advice and help but mostly because I believed I could! So I did!
When I was younger I felt I missed out because I did not go to college but I had the best school there is, the school of life and hard knocks, true life experiences that no college or school can teach you.
There is a reason why they say that youth is wasted on the young. With youth and the knowledge of my years, it is hard to imagine what I could accomplish!
I had good family and friends support in my life, but that happens because I am there for them with no expectation of a return. I have built a very large network of people and resources.
My revenues are 20k/month, I have 6 clients and a 2-person marketing team along with a virtual assistant. My top goal is to have 20 6k/month paying clients and to work 3-4 days a week by helping companies and CEOs scale and grow their companies. I plan to hire another virtual assistant once I get more clients.
“I started using AI Artificial Intelligence software to connect and start conversations with my target market on LinkedIn and build my client base.”
My vision for my business is to help 750+ companies scale and grow by 10X in the next 10 years.
What I would have done better is use OPM (other people’s money) to fund and grow my ventures faster. Every great athlete or exec has a coach and should have a coach or mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for help, people love to help.
Do what you are uniquely good at and love and you never work a day in your life, do your homework on the industry and competition, and most importantly when you decide, stick with it and work hard and it will pay off. Book recommendations: “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, “Who not How” by Dr. Benjamin Hardy, and “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Dan Sullivan and Marcus Buckingham.
Startup Veteran® shares interviews with successful veteran entrepreneurs and their journey in building their businesses. With boots on the ground, these stories are inspiring and provide battle-tested advice and insight for veterans starting a business.