The profession of business coaching takes me into all sorts of environments, business sectors and situations. It’s extremely interesting for a coach to see the diversity of how businesses function, the markets in which they trade, and of course the exciting aspect of the opportunities each and every business has to grow and become more successful.
The common misconception of the business coach role is that we are going into rescue a business or it is in need of significant change. Of course this can be the case, but more commonly there are much smaller changes or issues to be resolved, albeit they are still incredibly important for a business to move forward.
Confidence and convictions
The most common issues revolve around business confidence. I see many businesses that don’t necessarily need transformational changes, they require the leaders of the business to be more confident about their prospects. The business could be experiencing success on many levels, but the company directors and leaders have reservations, fear or anxiety on how to take the business forward.
Something very interesting about business owners is how each and every one of us are incredibly confident, empowered and excited by the prospect of going into business, but at some point that feeling of control over your own destiny is compromised by a lack of belief. It could be just one particular incident that knocks you back slightly - you start to question your validity as a business owner and your ability to run a successful business. This feeling is extremely unsettling and can become a problem that festers for far too long for many business owners.
The bi-product of this is the lack of ability to make decisions within the business, and sometimes even the simplest of decisions can be very difficult to make. If you talk to business accountants they can pinpoint a time in the history of a business where it stagnates and growth to the next level is difficult – although not in all cases but very commonly, this is around the region of £0.5M-£1M turnover, but of course does depend on the business type, relative to how it makes its profits. In my own experience working with businesses owners, a common occurrence with stagnation comes back to that lack of confidence, with owners questioning their skills and beliefs, losing that belief they had when they first started the business. They then lose direction, and the long-term plans they had made, either written within their original business plan, or indeed the vision they had for the business is forgotten, or it now seems unquantifiable.
Restoring belief in yourself and your destiny
The major issue around this lack of belief is the fact business owners, especially those who are the the sole owners/controllers of their business, sometimes live a very insular existence with a self-preservation mentality not to share any possible negative traits around their character or ability to be successful in business. Our infamous British reserve can be a detriment to this as well, as we generally aren’t the most open and communicative of cultures. We have a tendency to put concerns to the back of our minds thinking they will dissipate at some point, instead of facing them head on.
Part of my coaching process is to get business owners into the real world once again. It sounds a little derogatory, but I can guarantee we have all been there. We have all questioned our validity in business, and we have all put that fear and anxiety to one side and carried on with that good old fashioned stiff upper lip. This, I am afraid just doesn’t work!
We are all in it together!
Slightly cliché, and I am sure ‘we are all in it together’ has been used by more than one politician in the past to signify a collective embrace of the people to get through the difficult times ahead. However, in business we are all in it together, and what I mean by this is we are not alone, not by any stretch! We are also not 100% resilient to any negativity. We are not always 100% assured in our convictions and beliefs, and we certainly aren’t going to run a business without some fear or anxiety. So what can we do to change our mind set and work through the confidence issues we may be facing now or will face in the future?
Three important changes you can make
Education – As business owners ‘every day is a school day’, and we certainly don’t know everything there is to know about business. Personally, I am continually learning and broadening my knowledge and skill base, and every business owner should be adopting this mentality. The books to read section on my website is a good reference point, and part of my coaching is to encourage business owners to read high quality business related literature. There is a huge amount of learning material available for businesses either in a book or available from reputable resources online. You will find every negative situation has been documented, and every form of anxiety of lack of belief has been analysed, and very often personally documented by some of the most successful people in business. Make your task to read one book each month, and put time aside to do so. Incredibly empowering, and highly educational.
Business Coach & Mentor – I mentioned earlier about our good old British reserve, and how we don’t communicate. I would guarantee at the precise moment you are reading this article, there will be a captain of industry or highly admired entrepreneur somewhere in the world who is sitting down with their Coach or Mentor talking about any issues they may be having, and planning how to move forward. There is no shame in it, and the most successful business people have coaches and mentors, and utilise their skills to take their business forward.
Put your business in a position that gives you confidence – There is too much to document here and would advise any reader to look over my previous articles. Greater knowledge around the destiny of your business is a huge part of my coaching. Better understanding of your finances, systems, processes, operations, marketing and sales with a coherent strategy in place is in itself a confidence booster. You will feel empowered and in control, and decisions will be much easier to make. Many business owners don’t make the necessary important decisions because they don’t have that level of empowerment and direction. Instant confidence comes from financial enlightenment, if you understand the workings of your financial situation, and make sometimes small, but significant changes towards greater profitability, you will be more confident to make those important decisions now and in the future.
Every business owner has a path towards feeling more confident, with tools available to relieve anxiety or fear, and these support mechanisms are readily available to help alleviate the unnecessary stresses of running a business.
You certainly aren’t alone!