The reality of business coaching – from a client’s perspective

In my coaching profession, I am always fascinated by the surprising array of reasons business owners look for external help. Sometimes these decisions are based on mixed feelings or concerns about their business, other times a particular circumstance or situation in which they have found themselves. All are indeed challenging, for myself as a coach, but equally rewarding for both myself and for my clients.

This particular client story is fascinating; finding themselves back in familiar territory but, in turn, questioning the reasons they took this unusual step. What drew them back and what do they want to achieve moving forward?

This is the story in the client’s words…

My history in business is certainly an interesting one. I sold a successful building and home improvements business and was then reintroduced to the very same business by a liquidator because it had failed under the new owners. I took the opportunity and purchased the business back, spent time unraveling the previous owner’s situation, and then found some form of familiar territory.

Although I wasn’t anticipating external help immediately, it became apparent that this was an option I could explore. It wasn’t because I had forgotten how to build the same successful business once again, it was an understanding that I needed to unravel what was there and look at the business model with fresh eyes and opportunity. There was a feeling of, ‘If this is it, I don’t really want it anymore’. Maybe that was why I sold this particular business in the first place.

Where I was with the business at that time

We are a family business and my wife and I very quickly found ourselves working seven days a week and continually fire-fighting to stay efficient and profitable. Surely, there is more to life than this?

I looked into the idea of a business coach to help. I was certainly very skeptical about inviting someone into the business, with nagging conscious thoughts of, ‘why would someone in that position have the credibility and know-how to give me the sound advice I need? If they are that good, why aren’t they running their own £multi million business?’ The concept of business coaching didn’t really make a great deal of sense to me.

On deciding to at least pursue the idea of external help, our PR company, and numerous other contacts, kept leading me to one business coach that continually came up as ‘highly recommended’. Stuart Allan was introduced to us and, upon meeting him for the first time, I immediately recognised Stuart. In my youthful days at catering college he had been put up as the golden example to all of us students. He was a guy that had graduated from the college and gone on to build a hugely successful £multi million food company. A shining example for the college’s teachings and someone we all couldn’t help but admire!

That early skepticism was certainly starting to wane; however, I still didn’t really know what to expect but was looking forward to my first meeting with Stuart, especially as so many contacts of mine were recommending him, and knowing he had been hugely successful in a business I knew something about.

The first two-hour introduction

I was warned by the contacts that recommended Stuart that two hours of intense discussions with him can be rather exhausting. I can certainly confirm that statement; Stuart asked numerous questions and we had many discussions around different aspects of the business. I imparted the history of the business, the worries, the concerns and everything that amounted to that earlier statement… ‘if this is it, we don’t want it’.

Many things came out of the meeting but, post-meeting, I had the most incredible sense of relief. Yes, I had probably got a lot off of my chest but also felt I had made considerable progress. Stuart was full of great ideas and, most importantly, sensible ones. We were inundated with new business opportunities at the time, new projects for quoting were piling up on my desk, and I wasn’t finding the time to get them completed. It may seem simple to anyone reading this but not when you are so entrenched in the everyday madness of the business. Stuart’s very simple answer was to take a day out, switch off your phone, put on your out-of-office and focus on your quotations - it was a revelation. When you think about it, you spend huge amounts of time fire-fighting or being distracted from the important things. That pile of quotations I needed to do was THE most important thing I had on my list but untimely distractions were keeping me away from getting them done.

That first meeting made me start to realise what an exciting opportunity we had moving forward. I am impatient and want all the not-so-good things, like ‘no time for family life’ and ‘feeling like I am not quite in control’, to disappear quickly and the renewed enthusiasm and anticipation of what we can have to happen yesterday.

Now, four sessions into our coaching program, I am extremely enthused by the opportunities that lay ahead. I am starting to feel a sense of stability and organisation. Yes, the fire-fighting and long hours continue, but there is certainly a sense of control and, with Stuart’s help, we are now laying the foundations. The concrete has been poured and is setting, it’s now time for us to carefully design and construct our business, moving forward with greater clarity and conviction.

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