Do you want a motivational cuddle or increased profits?
My peers will probably chastise me for this article, but in reality, it doesn't concern me. For me, the art of running a business requires a substantial degree of self-motivation derived from understanding, clarity and opportunity. A motivational cuddle isn't on my agenda when I start coaching a business owner. Of course, I will always congratulate the successes with an enthusiastic and deserved 'well done'. My attitude is not to pay lip service but to be honest, providing constructive and meticulous analysis, and develop strategies in the process for achieving high growth, increased profitability and professionalism. If a coach only focuses on the cuddles and mindset without looking at the actual performance, it doesn't develop the person or business into maximising their potentials.
Next year will be my seventh-year coaching business leaders. In that time, I have come across many leaders who are somewhat derogatory about the teachings, organisation and performance of other coaches they've encountered. Typically, those are the coaches that focus on motivation rather than seeking clarity for the business through analysis and the creation of bespoke management tools. It's not much use to the recipient and can be a wasted investment opportunity.
The misgivings of the term coach
I struggle with the label of a business coach. It conjures up visions of congratulatory 'pats on the back' and terms like 'you can do it f you just try harder'. In reality, in the sporting world where the term coach started a coach measures performance, analyses statistics identifies marginal gains through the usage of 'state of the art' equipment and improves training techniques. They focus on dietary requirements and the intricacies of eating the right food to boost performance. The science of sport does have a direct correlation with the performance of running a successful, profitable company. As business owners, we are athletes of a kind. We are endurance experts with courage and take the positive pressures of leadership in our stride, continually analysing our performances in the field.
The dilemma of differentiation
I fear classification as a euphemistic business 'cuddling' specialist and motivator. The typical traits of a cuddling specialist are to give a lot of motivational praise and to change the businesses directions regularly without any strategic focus because there is no plan. The coach never feels it is necessary to request a set of monthly management accounts, budget forecasts, cashflow forecasts or KPI reports to do their job correctly and maintain accountability.
It's not uncommon to hear uncomplimentary comments from clients who have experienced previous coaching methods that have been littered with cuddles, but not a great deal else.
My comments may seem somewhat critical towards others, or a little over the top. However, my opinions are down to pure frustration; I know what can change with clients through the coaching systems and processes being implemented by both parties with full commitment.
What is my differentiation?
My approach is entirely bespoke for each client. I come into a business to analyse first, reviewing the performance of the company and where the opportunities lie. I look at a company in meticulous detail, and much to the amusement, and understanding of one of my clients, I can tell every one of the individuals I coach the cost to run their business on a minute by minute basis. That level of detail may sound a little over the top for some, but it has substantial value and is an essential KPI. Still, it is one significant figure amongst many others that helps the business owner fully appreciate and benchmark the costs of the business as it experiences increased growth. The statistics don't only tell you the performance of the company; they unlock hidden potential in the form of a standard set of marginal gains. The value of that comprehensive information could equate to a considerable increase in profitability before you even embark on the process of increasing turnover.
Once we understand the opportunities associated with the fastidious understanding of financial information, we can then start to focus on the tools that are required to measure the performance; this includes training the business leader in how to implement them effectively. Part of that process very often comes from encouraging the individual to become comfortable with figures and importantly understand their value. I particularly enjoy these revelations because I see the business owner becoming increasingly confident and optimistic about the potential of their business by having absolute clarity and control.
What comes after clarity and control?
Once you have the information to hand, the clarity provided can open up new doors to opportunities, while efficiently and regimentally maintaining accountability. The next step is to act upon those opportunities, putting strategies in place to make operational improvements, increasing profits, alongside marketing and sales strategies.
The significant shift in the business leaders’ mentality is the belief they gain.
Lack of clarity has a direct correlation with a deficiency in confidence where running a business is concerned. You then succumb to those doubts and fears that can get in the way of achieving the vision you have for the company. Undoubtedly, a degree of risk is always present, market forces being something none of us can control. Why increase risk by not having absolute control over the areas you can influence yourself?
My strategies become apparent to the business owner. They clarify to them the fundamentals they have always wanted to know. They have the tools in place they can use to understand the path to growth and increased profitability.
"As I mentioned earlier, I am not immune to giving praise when it is due, but let's get the important things in place first!"