Business coaching is a rather huge and diverse subject, and very often has a different meaning to each and every individual, but a question I was asked recently is… “What is one benefit to business coaching that’s worth the price tag?”
Of course, as a successful business coach who is currently working with a wide portfolio of clients across a diverse range of sectors, the benefits of coaching does take on many guises. However, those guises do lead to one very important aspect of why I am there, and that is to mentor and help the business owner build a highly profitable business; targeting a minimum of 20% year-on-year growth, and maximising the commercial opportunities that lay ahead.
To provide some analysis and give some relatively succinct answers to the original question based on my own experiences would be to focus on the following areas…
1. Building confidence
The most successful businesses are the most confident ones. Confidence is a prerequisite to becoming successful, and the level of confidence right across the infrastructure of the business whether it is the Sales Director or the Warehouse Manager, all contributes providing an impact on the success of that business. Confidence is invaluable and being able to support, nurture and help confidence to grow within a business is part of what I do. The impact of greater confidence is the ability to handle difficult situations more easily, or potential conflict that needs a speedy response so the business can move on quickly. As a professional sounding board, the company directors / business owners utilise my own expertise, experience and opinions to help them make important decisions within the business, having firstly established the structures and systems to generate quality management information. I have experienced many businesses suffering from a severe lack of confidence, and that can inevitably have a negative impact on the bottom line.
2. Helping you see through the trees
Incredibly common, we all as business owners have experienced situations where we are too close to the problems, and we find it difficult to formulate the answers. A good business coach will have an objective point of view, and the ability to identify and analyse the problem, and look for the answers you may not have yet found. I often find myself in situations where the business owner has spent valuable time worrying about certain problems, but in reality there were very simple answers that enabled the business owner to move on and focus their time more constructively. No matter how complex the situation, there is always a simple answer or a strategy which can be adopted to help resolve any issues a business owner may have. Seeing the forest through the trees is a capability we all have, but sometimes we need that impartial, less emotional, view to be able to do so.
3. Combating Unconscious Incompetence
I very much like this term, and it is borne of the fact I very often see the opportunities where the business owner doesn’t. This happens purely on the basis the business owner can be too close to the business, i.e., point one on the list, but also because I work with a diverse portfolio of businesses and have experienced a whole raft of opportunities that correlate across a number of business sectors. The experience I bring helps the owner identify opportunities they may not have known existed, or as Donald Rumsfeld put it… “There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
4. How to work with a diversity of different people
Business coaching typically includes exercises around personality and leadership styles. It can empower the business owner to learn more about themselves, but also how to deal with other people effectively. It helps the owner to hone their own skills by understanding themselves first, and then analysing others to create the most effective results going forward.
5. A business coach asks the right questions
Throughout the coaching process I ask a lot of questions from day one. I want business owners to think critically about their businesses, but also about how they run the business. There is no such thing as a perfect business owner, and we can all develop our skills to become better at what we do. Questions very often lead to a new perspective on the business, or indeed elements of the businesses operations. It is very easy to get caught up in the daily grind and not look beyond and try to improve the methods in how you run and conduct business. I help people see those opportunities by asking the right questions, and empowering the owners to find the answers they need.
Probably the biggest subject in business, and sometimes the biggest failing of a business. We all focus on the obvious elements of business, income and cash flow, but invariably what leads to either of these becoming poor is the lack of focus on where you should be prioritising your time. Growth is led by marketing and sales, and making sure you are generating the levels of new opportunities is probably the biggest priority for most businesses. However, these two areas very often suffer first when distractions are upon us. Staffing issues and operational problems can very often take priority over that life blood of every business.
7. Your team and retaining staff
The last point leads quite nicely on to this one. Distractions very often come in the form of staffing problems, and this is an area most businesses can make dramatic improvements. Self-worth is hugely important within a business, and creating a culture that nurtures leadership and confidence with no ceiling amongst your team members is hugely important. The bi-product of this process is actually less staffing issues. Making it clear and succinct what you expect from them, and giving them the power and confidence to succeed is paramount to the success of your business. The other very important aspect is retention. Happy employees do not leave companies very often, and part of what I do is to help the business owner build people as well as businesses. With the cost of recruitment, improving staff retention is just one area that is well worth the coaching investment.
8. My experience in financial planning
Anyone who works with me will know I start with the figures. I do this mainly to understand the current position of the business, but also to analyse the opportunities. Most business owners struggle with the daily grind of business and overlook the importance of what the figures can tell us. Financial planning is a big part of building a successful business, and as a coach I help business owners create robust financial systems, and ultimately help to improve and retain profits within the business. My coaching identifies and creates opportunities to save money and generate cash in the business, which in turn far exceeds the return on investment in coaching.
So, what is in it for me other than the investment you may ask?
Having founded and expanded a food manufacturing business to becoming an international success story, and a subsequent successful exit of the business you would think I personally have fulfilled my business goals. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The natural career plan for me was to go and help others do exactly the same, and working with a diversity of businesses has allowed me to expand my own skills and experience in business, with an opportunity to continually give back what I have learnt over nearly thirty years in business. Success is exciting and seeing the positive future and opportunities for every business I work with is hugely engaging for me.
If you see and understand the virtues of business coaching, what’s next?
Coaching a new client starts with an initial fact finding meeting to get to know the business and start to learn what the business is about. Typically, our first two hour meeting will cover…
- Achievements and the history of the company
- A bit about me; I really have been there and got the t-shirt
- An honest and frank discussion around the owner’s concerns – it’s a really good place to get started
- We look for some immediate answers and direction around current concerns – there is always an abundance of positive outcomes
- We look at the business owner’s strengths and weaknesses – yes weaknesses, we all have them of course
- We look to establish their one, three and five-year plans – both for the business and personally
- We take an honest look at the financial position of the business – we need that starting point, whether it is keeping you awake at night or in great shape
- We discuss the current strengths and weaknesses within the team, and what improvements could be made through training and motivational strategies
- We explore the direction and aspirations for growth within the business – we need these to set the short and long-term goals for the business
- We all at some point have concerns around operations and functionality of the business. The operational strengths and weaknesses need to be established
- Marketing and sales – the lifeblood of all businesses needs to be succinctly analysed and eventually optimised. We need to find out how good the company is at both, and suggest improvements
- Solutions discussion – Invariably we have established positives and negatives by this stage, and it is a great time to start looking at solutions to any negative aspects of the business, but also an overview of changes that can transform the business going forward.
I tend to cover a great deal in those two hours, and don’t deviate from the task in hand. It’s a lot to review but it provides me with a valuable insight into the business, and gives a level of empowerment to the business owner. I find the last part fascinating, and what can be quite an intense meeting can see some highly creative and interesting ideas come to the fore. I think this statement from a client sums up that two-hour meeting beautifully…
“Thank you for the encouraging words this morning, believe me I haven’t felt this confident, but also stressed and disorganised in a long time, which is actually strangely OK.”
Since the client provided this comment almost a year ago, his own business has experienced tremendous high growth, and he now has the freedom away from the coal face to run and grow his business with further exciting times ahead in tandem with myself.
We now have the summer months coming to a close, and for most businesses we have 2-3 quarters which are the most important in the business calendar. If you want to start the process of building your business with my help, why not book the initial two-hour free session to find out more about your business and the opportunities that lay ahead!