Business Coaching

Vermont business services coaching mentorship

We help build strong companies by working with entrepreneurs to express their values and see around corners. We open doors to new networks of professionals and capital. We deploy successful entrepreneurial coaches who have been in our clients’ shoes and can help them to navigate critical transition periods.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund provides tailored business coaching and entrepreneurial support to position Vermont businesses for growth and long-term success. Our clients include Vermont-based, value-added food and agricultural, forest related, renewable energy, waste management, and environmental/clean technology enterprises that are supplying products and services to a diverse marketplace.

Our team of experienced business coaches work intensively with clients in structured sessions over 12-18 months to provide support, advice, and leadership training in order to recognize ways in which they can improve the effectiveness of their business.  Additionally, we help our clients explore and prepare for the right match of growth capital (e.g., debt, equity, royalty financing) for their scale and stage of business.

Interested in Becoming a Client?

Contact Geoff Robertson
Business Assistance Director

Our business coaching services are designed to accelerate the growth of the enterprises we work with and expand the leadership capacity of the entrepreneurs who own and manage these businesses.

We work with businesses with some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Vermont-based businesses in the following sectors: sustainable agriculture and food related (e.g., value added food manufacturers), forest products (e.g., fine furniture makers), renewable energy (e.g., solar installers), environmental technologies (e.g., engineering firms), and waste systems (e.g., compost businesses);
  • Owners/operators with at least three years of experience in this or a similar role;
  • Businesses that have been in existence for at least three years;
  • Businesses that are expecting or experiencing some kind of significant transition (e.g., revenue and/or employment growth, expanded facilities, entering new market channels, developing or expanding their management team, succession planning or implementation); and
  • Business owners who value an outside perspective and a collaborative approach to their business’ and their own leadership development

Business Coaches

Chris Bailey Vermont Business Coach

Chris Bailey

Bio +
Chris Bailey led Vermont Smoke & Cure from being a local smokehouse in 2005 to become the leading meat snack company in the natural channel nationally. Vermont Smoke & Cure became a Vermont Benefit Corp in 2014 and a BCorp in 2016. In 2017, Chris stepped aside as CEO and continues in the role of board chair. Previous to graduating from Dartmouth College, he raced on the U.S. National Road Cycling Team and then professionally. Chris worked in environmental consulting for two years and then farmed for seven years before earning an MBA at Cornell. Chris lives with his wife in Huntington.

Peter Cole Vermont Business Coach

Peter Cole

Bio +
Peter Cole is the founder and principal of Cole Consulting and has been in private practice as an organizational development consultant since 1994, focusing on strategic assessment and planning, business development, executive coaching and leadership development. The foundation of the work Peter does is built on developing and integrating emotional intelligence – understanding ourselves, understanding others and cultivating connection through the practice of behavioral flexibility. Before going into private practice, Peter spent 16 years in the energy management industry, pioneering energy conservation and renewable energy efforts for commercial and industrial businesses. He founded and led a number of successful businesses and community-based organizations. He has held senior management positions in large and small companies, including directorships in IT, customer service and in sales & marketing, as well as COO and CEO. With a love for growing collaborative teams, Peter’s focus has been helping teams find their strength-based sweet spot, enabling them to scale rapidly while staying grounded in their core values.

Carolyn Cooke Vermont Business Coach

Carolyn Cooke

Bio +
Carolyn Cooke is a dedicated business and brand champion, whose roles have included co-founder and president, general manager, and vice president of sales within innovative, market leading companies and has unique expertise in pioneering start-up products and brands. In 1998 she co-founded ISIS, an outdoor women’s wholesale clothing company. In her role as president and CEO, she oversaw all aspects of the business from brand platform and product development to sales and marketing strategy. She is well versed in bank and equity financing and in 2011 led a successful sale of the company to American Recreation Products. Since leaving ISIS, she has been the finance director at Vermont Works for Women, the co-director of the 2-day Full Circle Festival and the director of sales & marketing at AllEarth Renewables, an innovative solar energy company based in Williston, Vermont. Prior to founding ISIS, she spent 12 years with Karhu/Merrell, and as the vice president of sales, was a key player on the small team that transitioned Merrell from a niche telemark ski boot company to a worldwide footwear brand. She has served on numerous industry and community boards and is the current board chair of Vermont Works for Women, a nonprofit organization offering training for women and girls to develop economic independence.
Lawrence Miller Vermont Business Coach

Lawrence Miller

Bio +
Lawrence Miller is an independent consultant operating as Five Vine Consulting, LLC. From 2014 through 2016 he was senior advisor and Chief of Health Care Reform for former Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. From 2011 to 2014 he was Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Lawrence started his career as the founder and brew master of Otter Creek Brewing, in Middlebury, Vermont. After the successful sale of Otter Creek in 2002, he worked as an independent small business advisor. From 2008 through 2010, he was CEO of Danforth Pewter. Lawrence also supported the development of the Flexible Capital Fund and VSJF’s peer to peer advising services (then named the Peer to Peer Collaborative). He currently serves on the board of the National Bank of Middlebury, and has previously served on the boards of VSJF, the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Vermont Economic Progress Counsel, Clean Energy Development Fund, Vermont Brewers Association, and the Brewers Association of America.

John Ryan Vermont Business Coach

John Ryan

Bio +
John Ryan was the Vermont Agriculture & Forest Products Program Director at VSJF from 2011-2017 and was responsible for developing a deep-dive executive coaching program for the owner-operators of growth stage businesses in Vermont’s food production and forest products industries, which served as the foundation to VSJF’s current business coaching services. Over his six year tenure, he worked one-on-one with more than 40 entrepreneurs to strengthen and grow Vermont’s food and forest products sectors by developing the management capacity and ability to access to growth capital for businesses in these sectors. In his work with clients, he covered a wide-ranging curriculum focused on profitability, organizational capacity, and skill development. Prior to coming to VSJF, he was the founder and principal of Development Cycles, a research and planning firm specializing in housing and economic development. He managed over 200 projects involving both large and small scale residential, commercial, tourism, and agricultural developments, as well as community and neighborhood revitalization efforts.
Steve Voight Vermont Business Coach

Steve Voigt

Bio +
Steve Voigt was president and CEO of King Arthur Flour from 1999 to 2014. Hired in 1992 as vice president of finance, Steve became chief operating officer in 1998. Prior to King Arthur Flour, Steve worked for Benedetto, Gartland & Greene in New York, where he raised private equity for venture, LBO and alternative asset funds. During his tenure there, Steve also supported his wife in founding, and later selling, Robin’s Homemade Breads of Greenwich, Connecticut. He also consulted out of Zurich, Switzerland and Cleveland, Ohio for McKinsey & Company. Steve is a graduate of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, and Colgate University. Steve serves on the boards of Newport Harbor Corporation, Vermont Mutual Insurance Company, Dansko, Montshire Museum of Science, and Tuck’s Center for Business, Government & Society. He has also been an active member of The ESOP Association serving as chair of the Board of Governors from 2003-2009.

Victor Morrison, VSJF Business Coach

Victor Morrison

Bio +
Victor has diverse management experience ranging from working as the Financial Operations Manager for IBM’s Semiconductor Manufacturing Division to serving as CFO for SkiTuner/Grindrite, a small manufacturer of ski and snowboard tuning equipment, to CFO/VP of Finance and Administration for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the CFO and later CEO of the Elan Ski and Snowboard Company to President of American Flatbread, and more recently as the CEO and COO of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. At Dr. Hauschka, he was instrumental in securing B-Corp status.

Victor currently works locally as a financial and management consultant, focusing on sustainable business strategy development and executive management coaching. Victor has served as a consultant for the Vermont Sustainable Job’s Fund’s Peer-to-Peer Collaborative Program, working with companies helping them address business strategy and management skill building. He has authored articles on a wide range of subjects such as: “Emotional Self-Control: A Leaders’ Perspective on Staying Cool under Pressure.” He is known as an effective leader and supportive coach skilled in guiding executives and team members in building trusting relationships.

VSJF business coaching services were formally known as the Vermont Agriculture Development Program and are now being called VSJF business coaching services and are available to all of the sectors we serve.

Thanks to the generous support of a grant through the Vermont Department of Economic Development’s Vermont Training Program, we are able to competitively price this service, allowing us to provide top quality advisory services at below market rates to help companies stay and grow in Vermont.

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Funders

Become a Funder

Are you interested in funding one of our programs or services? We are seeking funders to achieve our sustainable economic goals as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Clients

Become a Client

Are you interested in becoming a client to grow your business, industry sector, or replicate one of our approaches? We offer a suite of services for businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.
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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Clients

Become a Partner

Are you interested in partnering with us to build a thriving economic, social, and ecological future for Vermont? We invite collaboration from diverse stakeholders in all areas of our work.
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