“The SBDC has been valuable to me and my business. I am lacking in the areas of marketing, writing business correspondence, and creating a business plan— and following it. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for Carolyn Long and the Alabama SBDC staff. They are so kind, a valuable resource, and helpful in so many areas of my business.”
Carolyn O’Byrne is the wife of a second-generation truck driver. She knew first-hand the many issues that truck drivers face with their family, health and just being on the road. She started Life Coach Service, LLC to focus on serving the trucking industry. Through the business, Carolyn provided support and encouragement to her clients in the many matters concerning their life challenges. The company was started when her family lived in south Alabama, with the assistance of the SCORE chapter in that area.
After moving to north Alabama, in 2015 Carolyn contacted the Alabama SBDC at the University of North Alabama to help her daughters start a small online business selling “sister-related” items. As she worked with Carolyn Long and the staff at the SBDC, she requested assistance in working with her Life Coach business. She had developed her own website and was working on promoting her business. The majority of the help she had provided to individuals through her business were provided at no cost to the client and the business had generated very little income at that point. The SBDC provided assistance as she reworked her website and helped with brainstorming ideas for marketing her business; SBDC library resources on social media marketing were beneficial to Carolyn as she continued to increase her social media presence.
Carolyn has a unique story to tell. Due to health situations in herself and her own family, she had educated herself and worked to find solutions to these health problems. In researching the various concerns in her family, she realized that the health and workings of the digestive system were the key. She went back to school to learn all she could (she is now a colon hydro-therapist) and immediately started putting into action what she was learning. It was like an overnight success with the health of her family. She knew that this information needed to be shared and would help others, especially truckers, whose health is negatively affected by being on the road—strain on their body and mental health (being away from their family). When she started her business, she had planned to provide help to them through one-on-one life coaching sessions. However, Carolyn found that the focus of her business was taking her in a different direction.
Drivers were continually asking her for a “program” to help them with their eating and health. She decided to start by writing a book. This book would not be your typical book, it would not only educate, but would bring the reader to self- awareness by asking deep self-examining questions that would help them to know “self” and become aware of their personal tendencies—bringing awareness is the first step to success. After finishing the body of the book, the bonus at the end of the book provided the last piece of the puzzle—how and what to eat. Carolyn added many great recipes to the end of her book to complete the reader’s knowledge in attaining their journey to health—and these were recipes that could be prepared while “on the road”.
Carolyn worked diligently in 2016 to write and complete the book—GUT INSTINCT, working closely with the SBDC to brainstorm ideas on development, publication, cost and pricing of the final product. In promoting wellness for drivers, Carolyn has become well-known in the trucking industry. During this time she has been featured on several radio programs focusing on trucking industry: WSM—Nashville, WLW—Cincinnati, XM Radio, Itruck Radio, Blog Talk Radio and she does “Wellness Wednesday” each month—radio show with Real Women in Trucking. She has also held book signings at bookstore and truck stops. As a result of her work in promoting health in the trucking industry, she is being asked to speak at major truck shows. In 2016 and 2017 she spoke at GATS (Great America Truck Show) in Dallas. She has participated in truck shows in Dallas, Louisville and Brooksfield (Ohio) and has been asked to participate in many others. She has been asked to speak a major trucking event in May 2018.
Carolyn has also worked with and promotes (through social media and other means) several non-profit organizations and their special programs providing assistance to the trucking industry.
- Christopher Fund—provides funds to help pay critical bills (electricity, water, house payment, etc.) for truckers’ families when there is a health condition and the trucker can’t be on the road; helping family in a time of need, so that they can meet their basic needs and help prevent them from losing their home by missing a payment. St. Christopher Fund’s focus last year was a program “Drive To Health” and this year’s program is “Rigs Without Cigs”—stop tobacco use program.
- MATS (Mid-America Truck Show) to GATS (Great America Truck Show) –a weight loss, getting healthy initiative – set combined goal for weight loss lbs. for the trucker participants.
- Trucker’s Final Mile – Annually, many truckers die while on the road—away from home. This organization pays to transport the body home.
On numerous occasions, Carolyn had been asked by drivers if her book was on audio, since it was much easier to listen while driving down the road. In 2017, she worked on producing an audio-book, which was completed in August (in time for GATS). The SBDC worked with Carolyn providing information on resources for design, helped determine the cost of producing the audio-book, and developed a sponsorship proposal to help fund production and first printing.
Carolyn is now working to promote trucker wellness with several major companies serving the trucking industry and to get her book/audio-CD with a distributor servicing truck stops.