Why business coaching works - Number 4 in a series of ruminations
Carl has requested the rest of us contribute to his series of articles exploring why it is that business coaching works.
Here's today's thought, fresh from the desk of Jon, who is spending the day with his friends at Gold Coast Graphic Design.
Business coaching works for many reasons but because this is a blog, I'm going to talk about just one today and save the others for another article.
This keeps my article short, saving your short attention span and my typing fingers.
It works because it's expensive.
This probably sounds like self-serving bullshit which it is but there's truth in it, too. Just as with many alternative medicine treatments (and the placebo effect) a good part of the effectiveness of a treatment is the very fact of taking action.
Taking that first decisive step and doing something, while not enough on its own, is a huge contributor to making change. I'm sure it was someone wise who said (I probably saw it on Facebook) "every journey begins with a single step".
Well I agree. A good part of the value in business coaching lies in making a real and genuine decision to change the way you run your business. The cost of it is part of this.
It's easy to decide to change things and then not to follow through, though. New Years resolutions are a prime example. Diets are another.
Well business change and business coaching are another.
So the fact that it is expensive does a couple of things - it makes you think about the decision and not take it lightly and, once you've made it, it helps you stick to it.
There's something about spending a lot of money that makes you value the thing you've bought more than you would have if it was cheap (I expect there's a name for this in psychology).
And there's something about your expensive coach coming to see you for your coaching session (with his invoice in his hand, symbolically, at least) that makes the thought of not having done anything anathema. So the expense that you committed yourself to willingly and consciously, counters your natural inclination to stick to your old habits and resist the change you want.
Right, I'm off to put my price up.
Small Fish Business Coaching Gold Coast
Suck it up and get on with it - Tackling jobs you hate
Jon has been interviewed for a series of articles in the MPA online magazine (Mortgage Professionals Australia). This first one talks about how to tackle those jobs you hate and how to 'suck it up and get on with it.'
'Excuse #1: “I don’t have time.”
Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, takes a no-nonsense approach to confronting your excuses for what they are.
Often the tasks brokers enjoy doing are the ones that have more urgent consequences – dealing with your existing clients, processing current applications etc – whereas jobs such as marketing and prospecting new clients can often be postponed.
“Nobody is going to shout at you if you put your marketing off until tomorrow,” says Dale. “But if you don’t do Mr Jones’ mortgage, he’s going to be pretty pissed off.”
This makes it easier for brokers to ignore these deferrable tasks under the guise of concentrating on more urgent matters. What’s key to understand here, says Dale, is one doesn’t exclude the other.
“People waste a lot of time, and the reality is you can fit it in. Doing some sales and marketing doesn’t really mean that all of your customers are going to have a shit time forever from now on.”
Do the urgent tasks, says Dale, but schedule in time for the things you don’t like eg. ‘From 10-12am tomorrow I will call X amount of prospective clients’.
“What happens then is they realise it’s not true that they stop doing all the other stuff. Things carry on going as before, but the change they’re looking for also comes.”
Excuse #2: “I already tried that.”
So maybe you have tried tackling these tasks before, and maybe things didn’t work out so well.
“So many people have been damaged by an experience they’ve had,” says Dale. “Maybe they’ve taken out an ad and spent their $300 and not got any calls, so they think ads don’t work. In reality, that ad didn’t work, but it’s not quite the same thing. By no means have we established that ads in general don’t work or that they will never work for you.”
This kind of resistance often comes out of embarrassment over past errors, and this only serves to add to the fear of what can be a daunting task.
“Most people say they don’t know what is going to work, they’re uncomfortable not knowing and they’re scared of wasting time, making mistakes and looking like a fool. The reality is most of it does work and it’s not that hard, but it is a bit scary.”
As a broker selling a service, it’s hard not to take every ‘no’ as a personal rejection, says Dale, but it’s important to understand that most things in business involve a process of trial and error – some with more errors than others.
Excuse #3: “Nobody else can do it as well as I can.”
If you really, really don’t want to do something, and you have the resources to do so, outsourcing or delegating to someone else is a great option, says Dale.
“We all think we have to do everything but you can get someone else to do it if you want. It costs money, so everything is a trade-off, but for example I don’t like admin or bookwork so I pay someone else to do it.”
This can often be a struggle for brokers if they have tendencies to micromanage every task, but if you hire the right person, you can learn to have faith in them. The key is having some realism, says Dale.
“Getting someone else to do something that you do really well doesn’t really mean that it’s going to be crap forever and everyone is going to hate you and your service is going to drop,” says Dale.
Excuse #4: “What jobs? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
When there’s nobody around to call you up on it, denial can be a little too easy, says Dale.
“[Business owners] usually understand when I point it out, they know they’ve been hiding from it or ignoring it or pretending they’ve got better things to do.
“If I say to someone ‘How many times today has your business asked someone to consider what you do?’ and they reply ‘None’, it’s a bit hard to hide from that.”
If you’re in a situation where you really are the only one that can tackle a task, and outsourcing isn’t an option, it’s time to take a reality check, says Dale.
Break the tasks up into achievable chunks, and then find someone to hold you accountable for completing them – whether that be a business coach, a sales manager, another broker or a partner.
“Look at the activity and not the end result. Rather than try and persuade yourself you need to turn into a sales and marketing demon and be amazing at it, do something like make two calls a day. When you do that and you get a few coffee meetings and people are generally supportive and nice, you continue to expand your circle and suddenly calling two strangers a day is a habit - and business comes out of it.”
It’s not always easy to hear, says Dale, but sometimes you need to face some hard truths as a business owner.
“If it was easy everybody would be doing it. You can either do it or get a job for an organisation where somebody else does all the hard bits. If you want to work for yourself you’re going to have to spend at least some time doing the things you don’t like – suck it up and get on with it.”
Enterprise Connect - Free Government Money!
Enterprise Connect is a Federal scheme that helps you hire useful consultants to help you grow your business.
Sometimes they'll pay for Business coaching, if they think that's what you need but they'll cover other consultants too, including marketing consultancy, strategic planning, HR, training (including leadership training for you and your team)
Don't hold me to this because the commitment is not clear - you have to go through the process and see what the government consultant recommends after consulting with you.
It's clear, though that's there is money to be had and that they are keen to give it to you. So do you qualify?
You should be $1m or $1.5m in turnover (sorry minnows - we missed out, too) and in the following industries:
- Creative Industries
- Defence Industry
- Information and Communications Technology
- Professional Services
- Transport and logistics
- Printing and Publishing
- Clean Technology
- Food Processing
- Resources Technology
- Remote Enterprises
Check out the website. If this is too impenetrable, email me and I'll call the Enterprise Connect Business Adviser that I know and connect you with him. These guys are pretty helpful.
And if they suggest you get yourself a business coach, think of us :)
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
Why Business Coaching Works: Capturing goals, values and dreams
In these articles I’m addressing some of the key concepts behind why our business coaching works so powerfully. I talked before about looking at the reality of the business, but it’s important to balance that with the less tangible goals, values and dreams.
Yes. The fact is that most business owners are incredibly dedicated to the success of their business, and that’s built upon some powerful internal forces. Sure, there’s the fear of failure, and we’re constantly reminded of the basic struggle for a small business to survive. But you can’t stop there. You have to grab on to the powerful motivation of dreams and values. That’s the whole purpose behind the Values-Based Business blog that I started this year.
When you connect in with these positive forces, you have a lot more energy to do the hard work of improving your business. And when you’re just running away from the fear of failure, there’s no sense of direction. What are you running toward, not from?
When we start up a coaching engagement, we capture both the business goals and personal goals. The owner of a small business almost always has personal reasons for doing their work, or for the personal results they want to see. And the business, as its own entity, also has goals for what success looks like. I find that the degree of overlap between these two varies quite a bit, but it’s always incredibly useful to have the discussion.
What are your goals, values and dreams for YOUR business?
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
Why business coaching works: Basing on reality
During the coming weeks, I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why our business coaching is so compelling. Today, let’s focus on one of the first steps.
The beginning point of a Small Fish coaching engagement is to look at the reality of where you and your business are at. Depending on the client’s needs, this looks like a complete business audit (“assessment” in American), or perhaps something more focused on the specific issues which have been identified.
The reason we do this is because we want the coaching work to be solidly based on reality. Yes, we all have dreams and goals, and that’s a part of setting the context. But if you stop there, there’s a good chance that the coaching will be focused more on feeling good rather than actually getting results. Our approach is to improve the business, which then of course naturally results in a happier client.
The second thing our audit does is to uncover great opportunities for improvement. These might be in areas that the client has forgotten or ignored. When you work with someone who’s outside your business and industry, they’re going to ask questions which might challenge some of your assumptions. Not in a combative way, but with the intent of finding opportunities.
And, in my experience, this happens all the time. One of my questions may often trigger my client to rethink, re-examine, and come up with new ways to solve problems.
The third benefit of our audit is to align around the top opportunities for improvement. It’s very common for a business owner to be embroiled in hundreds of major and minor issues, constantly busy but losing sight of the big picture. Spending time at the beginning looking again at that big picture helps put issues in perspective – not only at that point in time, but over the course of the coaching and for years to come.
When is the last time you comprehensively examined the reality of your business?
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
What happens when you have to rebuild
As some of you know, I had a difficult year last year. Our franchise has come to a halt, due mostly to the GFC and I'm back to being a business coach instead of the CEO of a global business coaching franchise. (And divorced, broke, single Dad, reduced to eating worms from the garden)
Yes, I know, it's all very sad. I can hear the violins and your tears splashing on your keyboard as you read.
Well I'm fine, thanks for asking and this experience of rebuilding my personal coaching business has been interesting. I thought you might like to hear what I've learnt lately.
The markets are still a bit tough - people are a lot less ready to spend money than they were in 2008. They look a lot harder at your value and your cost before they commit.
Is it the same in your industry?
I'm told it is in business coaching - lots of coaches have gone off to find other income sources and given coaching away. Including most of the fishes, actually....
The markets appear to be picking up a little bit now - this year money has been freeing up slightly, small businesses are feeling a little less scared and starting to think about growth instead of survival. There's a palpable sense of coming out the other side everywhere you look.
So what did I learn?
You have to keep your head down and work harder and you have to keep doing what you know works.
Keep turning the wheel, as they say. I joined some networking groups and have been turning my marketing wheel as hard as I bloody well can for a year and a quarter. It's hard work and it takes stamina. But it is starting to look like I'll have a business again soon. Note that I'm not enjoying foreign holidays yet - it will take longer before things are right financially but know that sticking with what you know works, works.
That's the lesson - if you have a business that has something good to offer, the markets are still there. They didn't go away, they just stepped back a bit.
Vitally, don't panic and change direction. Certainly, don't panic and change direction over and over again. It doesn't work. Consistency (of your marketing especially) is a good thing and people are responding more to someone's longevity than ever.
I think I'll expand on this theme over the coming weeks as I get back into writing articles and get my head out of my own bum.
Ahh! Sunlight. It hurts my eyes...
Now that I've confessed it all to you, I want to know your story... have you learned a hard lesson this year in business? Leave a comment below
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
What's Wrong With Multi Level Marketing?
I’ve talked with a number of people recently who are thinking about MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) business arrangements. For those unfamiliar with the term, the concept is that a company sells its products or services to a whole bunch of agents, who get rewarded for two things: (1) selling that product to customers; and (2) bring on new agents.
It can be quite powerful when it works well.
I wrote a blog post about this recently, outlining a process for evaluating opportunities such as this. But it’s important to explain why this model exists in the first place.
A company will be attracted to this model when it needs to reach a broad range of consumers, and doesn’t have resources to do it through advertising. Or when advertising would be a poor substitute for leveraging peoples’ deep personal relationships.
Unfortunately, those same companies can become addicted to collecting up-front fees from new agents, while not having the support to make them successful. Perhaps the product doesn’t deliver on the promises which are made. Maybe the training doesn’t prepare agents to become successful full-time sales people. And, commonly, people are selected who aren’t suited to sales.
In this kind of business, you’re a sales person, and you have to get good at it. Not only are you selling the product, but you’re also trying to convince more people to become agents. Without those two elements, you’re not going to have a business. At most, it’ll be an expensive hobby. At worst, you can lose your life savings.
But we do have examples of companies which have succeeded in this kind of business model. So if you’re thinking about entering into an MLM program, or if you’d like to use it to expand your current business, make sure you think it through very carefully. It’s a big commitment on both sides, and will change your business. Just make sure it’s for the better.
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
Are Your People Really Empowered?
I see a lot of cases where business owners give their people a degree of empowerment. Within a certain domain, they’re allowed to make decisions on their own, without having to get prior approval. It’s a powerful concept, because it takes work off your shoulders and inspires your people to know they’re trusted.
Of course, it doesn’t always work as planned. People are different, so they make decisions differently than you might. Are you OK with that?
The key is to give people some solid structure to make their decisions:
• How far their domain of empowerment extends
• How it interacts with others’ domains of empowerment
• The process for making a decision
• In particular, danger signals and pitfalls to watch out for
You need to have a discussion with each employee which covers those points, in sufficient detail to let people feel confident to move ahead on their own. It’s not enough to say, “just use your common sense.” That’s quite vague, and may not be aligned with your company’s goals. Instead, it looks more like this: “I’ll trust you to make good decisions about issuing customer refunds. Don’t go above $100 without talking with your manager, though, as it’s quite possible that someone’s trying to scam you. Always be friendly, even if the person is being rough with you, because it’s an important part of how we treat our customers. Whenever you issue a refund, make sure you code it in the system properly so we can track the overall trends. Tell your supervisor by the end of the day and talk with her about any questions or nervousness you might have. When we do this consistently, customers will come to love and trust our store.”
Often, these guidelines will be applicable to a whole bunch of people, so it’s useful to have them all hear the same message at once – especially so they know that everyone’s hearing the same thing.
You may have areas of empowerment which are specific to an individual, perhaps even based on a unique role or level of trust. If you feel the agreement is stable enough that you can write it down, great, but it may take a little while to evolve as you both learn about the limits and pitfalls.
The big test, though, is what you do when you feel that someone has made a questionable decision. If you come down hard on them, then you’ve basically destroyed the empowerment you worked so hard to create – perhaps permanently. Motivation and trust will plummet as well. Instead, approach it with a gentle discussion where you’re BOTH trying to learn what might have gone wrong. Remember, a decision different than yours isn’t necessarily worse – it might be much better than you would have done. So walk through the thought process, and try to establish an agreement that you both would be happy with in the future.
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
Free Wealth Accumulation Seminar in Murwillumbah
Jon's friend in Murwillumbah is hosting another in their ongoing series of seminars. Not Jon speaking this time, but a firm of financial advisers and wealth managers who will help you understand some wealth accumulation strategies.
So you have the full team - a business coach to help you make more money, an accountant to help you keep more of it and a wealth (investment) adviser to help you grow it.
COME ALONG AND LEARN:
- Dividend Investment – The Hunt For Yield
- SMSF Property Strategies
Presenters will be available during the break and after the seminar if you have any specific questions you would like to ask.
And yes….. the chocolate mudcake has been ordered……….
The following experts will be there during the night:
Elston Partners, including CEO Andrew McKie
Mark Shultz – Senior Strategy Advisor & SMSF Specialist
Robert Berry – Investment Advisor
Robert Scobie – Private Wealth Advisor Advisor
Tuesday 23rd July at 5:30pm
315 Tweed Valley Way Murwillumbah
If you wish to attend please contact Kerry on 02 6672 4044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Small Fish Business Coaching
Using Pinterest to sell products
Pinterest is a useful and convenient way of promoting your company’s services and products. It recently introduced new-look business pages and terms of service that allow users to make commercial use of the services on offer. This includes product promotion, sales and leads generation and numerous other commercial uses.
To get started, your personal profile will have to be updated into a business account. If you don’t have a personal account already, you can dive straight in by opening a business account.
Here are a few tips on how you can get started using Pinterest commercially to most effectively promote your business.
Theme your merchandise
Your products may be better promoted if you group them around a theme. This can be based on colours, materials, designs, ingredients or anything else you desire. When you’ve settled on a theme, choose a number of different boards based on it. A colour theme, for example, will have products of the same colour pinned to one board, and so on. Set the boards up and start pinning the appropriate products to them, and remember to add a decent description. This will help potential customers find products based on a favourite colour.
Highlight the most popular products
Buyers are attracted to popular products as they know that such products are selling well and they’ll want to get in on the action before stocks run out. So create a board for your most popular products and let your customers know in the description attached that these are your big sellers. Pin a few images of the most popular items to it, along with their descriptions, and you could also rank them individually for that added professional touch. Be sure to keep the board updated regularly because incorrect or outdated information never goes down well.
Generate a few leads
To use your Pinterest page to get some leads generated, start off by creating quality content such as case studies or detailed reports that include an opt-in form. An effective cover image for that file should then be a good image of the product, which will then be pinned on a board where your premium content will be shared. Essential to this is a call to action embedded in a short description of the product, whereby visitors are invited to sign up on your website. This should all generate more leads and increase traffic landing on your home page to ultimately drive increased sales.
Like all businesses, your aim is to generate sales and leads for your products and services, and for this you need to build an audience. You can then start promoting your products after gaining an audience potentially interested in buying them.
The best way to gain audience on Pinterest is to set up a board dedicated to the products you’re most interested in selling. Pin products just the once to avoid giving the impression of over promotion. Once you’ve pinned up a product, include with it all the comments, repins and initial likes to give it social kudos and encourage others to check it out.
Guest post author: Carlo Pandian is a social media enthusiast and coach on SME bookkeeping software by Intuit. He has previously worked for Adzuna, a tech start-up in London and likes to share business and marketing tips with the online entrepreneurial community.