I take back all I have said about Business Coaching in the past
(but with a strong caveat to this statement)
Article written and submitted by an ongoing client
I met Stuart a good 18 months back at a networking event, and got to know him briefly at this regular event, but didn’t really get to know him properly till we both up and left. We both decided it wasn’t for us and the small business mentality it represented didn’t meet with both of our ambitions for our businesses. It certainly generated some business, but it really was past its sell by date for me.
Following an initial meeting with Stuart, who we were already supporting in his own marketing endeavours, I decided to take what was then the government initiative and funding opportunity through the Growth Accelerator scheme.
I wasn’t sceptical about Stuart, because I knew his background, and thought anyone who could grow a business to £10m in the incredibly competitive food sector was someone who could advise me and teach me something new, despite my own 16 years in business.
My own history and launch into business was in 1999 and setting up an Agency alongside my ex-business partner which ultimately grew to a £2m very successful, and extremely entrepreneurial organisation. Differences of opinion and direction for the company saw a successful management buyout, and myself free to explore new opportunities.
In 2006 with my wife Karen who also had a background in marketing, we set up Elan Marketing. This followed a similar path, but not quite as phenomenal as before, but still very successful and grew very quickly. Recession hit, businesses went bust, and we suffered big time at this point, but in 2011 after a brief period out of the business, I took over Elan once again.
My remit was to consolidate the business, keep it simple, watch the market and how technology was going to influence marketing in the future, and then start to grow the business again. In reality I just sat on my derriere and found a comfort zone with long-term loyal clients, and we continued to do a great job for them, but growth became fear. I had done it twice, first time creating a headache and ultimately exiting, second time nearly losing the business due to the most difficult economic period in living memory, and would admit some negativity had set in that seemed to have a psychological effect on my willingness to grow again. In reality it really was just fear!
Stuart steps in… Since running through GA with Stuart, and subsequently continuing to work with him, the mojo has returned, and I have great ambitions for our business once again. Stuart has helped us enormously, and enabled me to really take a step back, with time to look at how the business should grow, but importantly how we work with clients in the future. What do they need from us?
Since we made some serious decisions, which let’s face it wouldn’t have happened without Stuart, the business has grown its residual income by almost 100%, and general growth is at 75%, all over a six-month period and continuing. 2016 started off with a bang, and we haven’t stopped, and now recruiting to build our team.
Stuart’s input was so important, and maybe not what you would expect. Being a marketer, we are by our very nature analysts, and to the eighth degree, we over analyse sometimes, and our emotional traits are very often exaggerated several times over. Mine certainly were, and I really couldn’t see the way forward for the company. I spent most of the time looking at new ideas, but the fear of getting it wrong, taking me out of that comfort zone was holding me back.
Stuart not only analysed the business, he really put some focus on where we should be, what we should be doing, and how we could build the company for the future. Guess what, it worked, the fear has certainly resided and our plans are more focused than they have ever been, in fact my focus is clearer now than it has ever been in 16 years. My first company we flew by the seat of our pants, and lucky enough we got it right. This time around we have strategically got it right!
I don’t expect it all to be a bed of roses, and may have to experience those difficult cash flow periods, or more worrying times at some point in the future, but I am now ready for them, and don’t fear them, I just look at them as a problem that needs resolving without any form of procrastination. Stuart has created or rekindled my assertive side once again. Yes, I am probably a little more careful, but that’s an age thing, but so much more confident about the business and where it is going. To be honest, my journey in business once again has only just started, with plans for the future I very much need Stuart to continue in his role. When I get a little psychologically unbalanced once again, I know I have Stuart, the most methodical adviser you could ever wish for.
So taking back all I have said is about my dismissal of having any form of mentor, and believe me there are some I have met that will never be my mentor. Stuart is rare, been there, done it and 25 years building a company he can write many books. No bullshit (can I say that word), and straight to the point, but someone who takes an extraordinary amount of interest in the business. I suspect most in his role play lip service, but after an exhausting two hours of mentoring from Stuart, you know lip service isn’t part of the programme.
I would like to thank Stuart for a great deal, not only has he helped with the business, he rekindled that fire in the belly which lay dormant for a very long time.
My advice – if you are looking for a proper business coach who will take you through your business career to a successful conclusion, whatever that end goal is, the qualities of Stuart Allan are rare, and I would suggest not to waste your time looking elsewhere – that’s the caveat!
In the words of a well known advertising slogan… Just do it!