This isn’t a question I come across too often, as by the time someone contacts me and wishes to engage they have already made up their mind they are looking for outside help to further their business opportunities. However, it is I am sure an objection that is raised consciously by business owners and one I can fully appreciate. Objections to outside help could be down to pride, confidence, fear of being told you are doing it wrong or purely down to the fact you have an extremely successful business so why would you need outside help.
Admiration of expertise and developing new skills
As I mentioned in my last article, I hugely admire the expertise and skills of the people I work with and they are very much experts and highly skilled in their specialised field within business. However, in the specialised field of being practicing business owners we are continually learning, gaining an increasing knowledge to help us to develop and hone our abilities to run and grow a strong business. We want to fully appreciate and understand the potential of our own businesses and take full advantage of the knowledge we gain. We look to read interesting articles, books and other content, to seek and create new dimensions of understanding that will develop us personally as well as the development of the business itself. Every day is most certainly a school day in the world of business ownership and huge amounts of content is readily available for us to devour.
So, why a business coach and why would I need one?
Undoubtedly, my coaching takes on the dimension of education or imparting the knowledge and experiences I have had in business for nearly 30 years. Like many, I have seen the good, the bad and the damn right ugly in that time and that experience can be invaluable for others. However, it is a great deal more than just imparting my experiences, it is about impartiality, opening the eyes of the business owner up to possible change and the inevitable profitability this can create. It could be about a particular transitional period within the business and recognising that need for external help, or there are inherent fears that need addressing in order to take the business forward. It may be the fact the owner is battling from one day to the next, ‘fire-fighting’ with little input or time to develop the business, again demonstrating a need for focus from external help. It could be something which is extremely common amongst business owners, where we feel we don’t have a full grasp of the current situation in our business, especially finances, and feel out of control. We may have completely fallen out of love with the business because we seem to travel from one situation to another without experiencing any form of progress. Typical growing pains which are extremely well documented in business circles. It might be the case we feel we need to invest some time in us for a change, having invested a great deal of time in the business and people we employ.
I think this recent testimonial I received is a prime example of the objections and misinterpretation of what a business coach can offer.
“I was uneasy before our first meeting, waiting to be told that I had been doing it wrong for the last 19 years and preparing myself to be belittled. The approach Stuart takes couldn’t be further from this image. The guidance and support Stuart has given is based on his many years of running his own business and he shares the challenges and trials of that business, which echo all too well the frustrations we were having; taking advice from someone who has been there and done it, makes a huge difference. I don’t have a business partner and have made all the tough decisions in the last 19 years alone but working with Stuart has given me the sounding board and partner that is needed to help us grow my business into the company I have always wanted to.”
The initial hurdles of engagement
The testimonial pinpoints some of the fears business owners experience when seeking external help. It isn’t any form of admittance around failure or being told you are doing it wrong. It has nothing to do with pride, it is about alignment with goals and ambitions you have for the business and to recognise a need for help. Most of the people we admire in business who have achieved phenomenal success have utilised external help, whether that is psychological to overcome fear or analytical to create greater understanding of the businesses situation or indeed both, which is very much the role I adopt as a coach. Ironically, creating clarity around the business situation very often leads to the dissipation of fear. The two very much go hand in hand.
Business coaching has nothing to do with emotions whatsoever in reality, although emotions play a big part in a business owners choice to engage with external help, and indeed the emotions they are feeling whilst running their business. The reality of coaching is to build a partnership of understanding, induce an extreme level of clarity around the direction the business should take, providing the tools to continue with a position of clarity as the business grows, and continue to provide a high degree of support and partnership to realise those ambitions and goals for the business!