coaching provides Kristian with the opportunity to combine two of the
things he enjoys most in life – business and helping people. He gains
satisfaction from his role as coach, working with motivated people to
help them with their success... Read More
Business Coaching is a tool that you can use to help you drive change in your business
Appointing a business coach is an overwhelmingly positive and decisive action to take. It is the first step in your business improvement plan.
A business coaching program is a journey from where your business is today to where you’d ultimately like to go.
It’s an active process of change, requiring effort and commitment from you and from your coach and it is not for the faint-hearted. Your business coach will encourage you to confront your weaknesses (which can be uncomfortable) and find ways to fix them or work around them. You’ll recognize your strengths and play to them.
Above all, you’ll push your business in the direction you want it to go.
We were so excited to meet Amy and the team at Yummy Mummy - who run Australia’s only pregnancy day spa! Yummy Mummy's trained therapists specialise in taking care of pregnant women right from conception, through to birth and beyond - offering treatments that have been designed by pregnant women for pregnant women!
If you are pregnant (or know someone who is), we would highly recommend contacting Yummy Mummy for some pampering and pain relief to start feeling like a Yummy Mummy once more! Did we mention that they even have gift vouchers.....
The Yummy Mummy experience is presently available in Perth, with plans to come to Sydney and Melbourne soon. Amy is in the process of working through the first stage of the Small Fish Business Coaching system, and we look forward with tremendous anticipation to see Yummy Mummy expand Australia-wide, and maybe even internationally!
Stay tuned - we will let you know how it goes!
(Note: Pictured are Gillian (seated), Shannen, Amy Mitchell, Louise and Lee)
Most businesses leak profit, often for simple reasons, which can easily be fixed. Is your business leaking profit?
The Business Audit Consultancy will help you identify and plug profit leaks. And help you make more money. And who doesn't want that?
Just ask Noven Purnell-Webb from Magedata – he says
"The questionnaire was a really easy way to get some quick and effective insights into how my business is running. By merely asking the questions, the obvious things can no longer be ignored and some surprising results emerged. A highly effective tool for any business owner trying to clear up the bigger picture."
Click below to read more or to book yourself in for a good probing (with questions of course). We think you’ll like it.
As business owners, we hear all the time that word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing. As a result, we focus on building our referral network - the group of people that know what we do, and can act as advocates for our business into the broader community. This is what word-of-mouth marketing is all about. (And if you don't believe me, go and visit your local BNI.
It follows then, that one of the biggest opportunities for referrals is to make sure our customers are happy. We need to make sure that we are giving our "smiley" happy customers every opportunity to recommend our business to their friends - empowering them to be "fans" of our business.
Satisfied clients, actively recommending your business to their friends will certainly help to grow your business - but it is something that can be difficult to measure.
I recently came across some interesting research by Frederick F. Reichheld in the Harvard Business Review titled "One Number You Need to Grow."
Essentially, this explores the relationship between customer satisfaction and top-line growth, concluding that the single most important question that should be asked as part of any customer satisfaction program is: "Would you recommend this business to a friend?"
This applies to all business, large and small. Big business is getting on board this research, and some are starting to measure it with an approach known as Net Promoter Scores - or NPS for short (Oh, how we love acronyms - LOL!)
If you're interested, you can find out more about the science behind Net Promoter Scores here.
In the meantime, I have two important questions for you:
Would your customers recommend your business to their friends?
When was the last time you asked your customers this question?
We recently surveyed* our small business clients and found that two of the things that people find challenging about working with a business coach are:
Finding the time to get the work done, and
Dealing with the way their business changes.
So as a business owner, how can you make the most of getting a business coach to work with you on your business?
Firstly, make sure that you find the time to take yourself out of the day-to-day of running your business and focus on the activities that result from the coaching. It is simply not going to work if the only times you spend working “on” your business are the times when you are with your coach!
Secondly, be prepared for your business to change. This means being open minded, and being prepared to face and to make decisions – some of which can be tough ones! Remember - the very essence of business coaching is about changing your business.
A business coach will be able to help you with both of these points; however the ultimate responsibility for how much you and your business will get from your coach rests with you!
In the words of French journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr:
“plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose”
Which translates to “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
We often avoid change because it can be unsettling, a journey to the unknown and into uncertainty. Sometimes we fear what change might bring, and feel safer in the “known” certainty of continuing in the same way we have been.
If we think about it, this thinking is based on the assumption that not changing anything will lead to a known and certain outcome.
In business, if we carry on in exactly the same way we did in the past, can we seriously expect exactly the same result in the future?
Economists have found the Latin expression “Ceteris Parabis” useful when trying to explore the effect of change. It means “all other things remaining the same."
Essentially, if all other things stayed the same, and we carry on in our business in the same way, then perhaps we can expect the same result in our business in the future.
But this thinking is fundamentally flawed – because in the real world, ALL other things do NOT remain the same. (Perhaps that explains why economists sometimes get it wrong!)
If you compare your business this year with your business last year - not only has the business probably changed, but the external environment within which your business operates has also changed.
Think about it. Your team, your management, your equipment, processes, customers, pricing, costs (the lists goes on) – are they all the same?
Let alone the changes that have occurred in technology, the environment, in government and with your competitors (again, the list goes on) that will undoubtedly have an effect on your business.
Can change therefore be avoided? Is choosing not to change the most certain course of action?
By now I think you will agree with me that change is inevitable – perhaps change is indeed as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated “the only constant."
So how do we change? The first step in the process of change is to assess and understand your situation.
When was the last time you stopped what you were doing to have a good look at your business and how it interacts with the world around it? Is this something you do on a regular basis?
If you haven’t done it in a while, stop now and make the time out to do it. There are plenty of resources and tools out there to help you.
Do you feel like you are NOT earning enough for all the hard work you do in your small business? Are your earning requirements fair and reasonable?
If you answered yes to both questions, then maybe you need to put your prices up!
Many small businesses charge too little for the products or services they provide. This leaves them with a business that operates on small margins and, often, earning less from all their hard work than they would earn in a job!
Sometimes it is difficult to work out what your business’ charge-out rate should be.
To help in this situation, you can use the Hourly Rate Calculator - a useful little tool to help you work out an hourly charge-out rate for your business.
This tool is also useful if you are facing competitive pressures. It gives you an opportunity to analyse your costs for efficiencies, as well as understand any competitive advantage you may have (to help you better explain why you charge more than your competitors).
The Hourly Rate Calculator (and instructions on how to use it) can be downloaded from the Small Fish website here. Of course, if you get stuck, give us a call.
One of the Drivers of Profitability is finding ways to increase Revenue (often referred to as Turnover, or Income, or Sales). It is possible to increase sales by understanding and improving the sales process that exists within your business. When I refer to your sales process, I am referring to the process that starts with Marketing or Prospecting activities, and ultimately leads to a customer making a decision to buy your product or service – and all the stages along the way. This is sometimes referred to as a Sales Funnel.
It is called a Sales Funnel because of the simple realisation that not everyone is going to buy our product or service. We talk to many, many more people in the marketing stage than the number that ultimately end up becoming customers. Hence the analogy of a funnel – wide at the top, narrow at the bottom.
Having a defined and consistent sales process will improve sales performance, leading to more sales. It also allows you to monitor and potentially improve performance at each step. For example, you might measure “percentages” of how many people progress from stage to stage (or overall), and consider how that can be improved along the way. Remember, small changes can produce large results!
These “percentages” are useful in another way too. If you are trying to meet specific sales targets, and you know your percentages, you can use this information to “reverse engineer” how big a pool of prospective customers you will need to have to find enough customers to meet your sales targets. Then all you need to do is fill your funnel with the right number prospective customers. It sounds easy – and really, it is! It just requires hard work, focus and determination (and adequate resources).
Some time ago, I came across an incredibly useful model to help you identify the progression between different work personalities that exist within your team. It is called the Work Personalities Model, and it identifies two specific dimensions of personality in the workplace – Level of Happiness and Willingness to Express. It then maps out a progression (or regression!) between 4 different work personality modes in your team - from Prisoner, Survivor, Whinger to Volunteer.
Obviously, it would be good to be surrounded by a team of “Volunteers” – however it is also useful to understand the dynamics behind how people progress between the different personalities. We should also resist the temptation to suggest that if they’re not all volunteers, it is a negative. For example, one positive about a “Whinger” is that they are willing to express themselves. A lot of people as part of a team will move back and forth between Whinger and Volunteer mode. So, if you want to know what’s not working in your business – ask a Whinger!
Watch out for the “Survivor” in your business. It is very hard to run a high-performing business with a team of Survivors. They are more interested in self-preservation than the company or even their own ambitions.
Finally, the “Prisoner” tends not to make much contribution at all. They may even attempt to sabotage things. You will probably need to consider letting them go if they cannot be helped – however they are usually so detached from what is going on, they will probably end up leaving anyway.
The Business Reproductive System (Or How To Grow Your Business Without Losing Its Personality)
At the heart of a small business is the business owner, and their personality, values and relationships. People do business with a person, not a business. In most cases it is because of the business owner that customers have made the choice to spend their money with a particular small business in the first place.
In fact, it is this personal relationship that often makes a small business stand-out from its (often) larger competitors – a key differentiator if you like.
But, this can create a problem. There is a limit to the number of people a single business owner can personally service. The business will reach a certain point when the business owner finds themselves running out of time trying to service all their clients in the way that they have been (and that they now expect).
You might be familiar with this scenario.
It can seem that unless something changes, you will need to accept the fact that the business will not be able to grow any further.
For the entrepreneurs amongst us, this is a concept that is quite difficult to accept. We really want to find a way to grow, but still keep that personal element in our business. At the same time, we don’t want to grow “too big, too fast”, and lose one of the reasons people do business with us in the process.
In fact, it is a fear that many small business owners have – that their business will grow, and in the process, they will lose touch with the passion that got them into business in the first place. It is this passion which also happens to be the very thing that attracts customers to their business.
So what could change, without the business losing it’s personality?
One possible solution is that we could start to service our customers less. While it is true that we may find ourselves “overservicing” customers a little bit, and a small amount of extra capacity can be created by stopping this “overservicing” – it is only a temporary solution. You may have already tried this.
There is a limit to how much service you can take away before you have an impact on customer satisfaction and start to lose customers. So while we might find some extra room to grow this way - this is not a sustainable answer. You need to find a way “Reproduce” yourself – another “You” in order to get everything done!
The only real option is for you to delegate more. Ask yourself - does every, single, little thing you are currently doing really need to be handled by you personally? Are you in fact a “bottleneck”, preventing your business from growing – and possibly also preventing your customers from having a good service experience at the same time. (Believe me, this happens-more often than you might think!).
Is there a way you can can delegate your level of direct involvement with each customer, while still maintaining that personal service, and the unique personality of your business? I am going to respond to that and say “Yes there is!”. In fact, there are many ways to achieve this – it just takes the resolve and conviction to do it, and to overcome the fear of change that it might bring with it.
Effective delegation starts with building a solid team around you, of people that share your passion and your values. If you have a team like this, you can easily introduce them to your valued customers, and delegate some of the responsibility for service to them. Think about your team, and think about how you build your team. Are these people good representatives of what it is that your business stands for?
If they are, then customers will readily accept such people into the relationship, especially if they also see things being done more efficiently. Sure, they still have a relationship with you (and of course your business) – but now there is more capacity to give them more of what they want, and to grow with them. The alternative is being seen by your customers as the “bottleneck” in your business, and possibly in theirs too!
Obviously, there is more to delegation than having a good team to delegate to (a topic worthy of its own blog post). The point is that we need a place to start. If you have a good team, delegate more. If you don’t have a good team, get one! Reproduce!