After meeting Kurk Lalemand of Next Level Business Coaching a few years ago, Michael Pratt, who had never worked with a business coach, decided to try their services.

As President and CEO of Downeast Networks, a technology consulting services company based in Lewiston, Pratt and his business partner were trying to build their business but also perform time-consuming tasks on a daily basis.

“Kurk helped us to realize that for the company to grow, we needed to get out of the day-to-day work and systematize our business processes,” Pratt explained. “Now, our business is growing and our reputation is starting to take hold in the marketplace. I credit Kurk because his guidance has been really beneficial to us.”

Before hiring Next Level, Pratt said their company was struggling with managing the financial  operations, such as paying bills and budget forecasting. Pratt realized that as the company’s volume grew, he was spending a day every week just to manage the accounts. Next Level helped him develop and streamline business processes.

“Kurk challenged me to take a look at all the activities that occurred around these particular tasks and document the steps. This started to build the standard operating procedure in our office,” Pratt said.

“I can’t imagine where we would be now without this system of doing things,” he said.

“Kurk asks good questions and gives us great advice on what things to look out for,” he added. “We’ve been able to bring on quality people directly because of his advice.”

Pratt said that he trusts his coaches’ opinion and appreciates his perspective on things. With Lalemand’s 30 years’ experience in running companies, Pratt feels that he has the background to ask good thought provoking questions and make excellent suggestions – as well as help keep everyone on task.

“It’s crucial to have someone hold you accountable in your own business,” Pratt said. “Kurk will ask why we didn’t meet a goal or deadline. He’ll ask if it’s still important and if it is we get it done right then and there.”

The most notable piece of advice Pratt has taken from Next Level is that at some point, business owners must focus more on working on their company rather than working in it. He has realized that in order to grow his business, he must make a commitment to focusing on the future.

“That’s what is so valuable about Next Level,” Pratt explained. “After all this time working together, Kurk has this understanding of where we have been as a company, and what we want to do next.”