How can I become a better

business owner and leader?

leadership personal development change

Business Change follows Personal Change

I believe personal development is integral to developing your business. The two always go hand in hand. It’s the reason I refer to myself as a Business – Life Coach, rather than a business coach. It all boils down to one word: Leadership.

Most business owners, in the deepest dark reaches of their mind, are afraid they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, as business owners, we start our business on the back of a profession, a trade, or a skill we have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, software developer, designer, mechanic, chef, retail manager) and we feel confident in that particular skill. Starting a new business is an enormous buzz. But once we start a business based on that profession, we suddenly realise it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.

Time to think, doing nothing

Where’s the toilet paper?

Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee, or sign the lease for the new office, as well as making sure the toilets are stocked with toilet paper and that there’s ink for the printer. To top it off, your people look to you to have Vision, to have the answers and to be the leader.

Three pieces of good news about your leadership

It can be a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news:

  1. You got this far and you’re still standing, so you must be doing something right.
  2. Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any stuff up you’re going to make along the way.
  3. Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at.

What is leadership then?

Leadership starts with this statement:

Your business is what it is today, because of WHO you ARE today.

That may seem obvious. But what may not be so obvious is what follows.

Because what it means is this:

If you want SOMETHING you’ve never had before,

First, you’ve got to BECOME SOMEONE you’ve never been before.

Systems and knowledge are never enough

Many business coaching companies sell a “system” that will supposedly deliver a business that generates a million dollars of profit every year. Those systems are often well thought through, well presented and well worth looking into, but they rarely work, at least not by themselves. The reason they don’t work is that Change, business Change or personal Change, is never about systems and knowledge. Just like we all know the system for losing weight (eat less, and exercise more), most of us business owners already know most of what we need to know to Change our businesses.

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And just like losing weight means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of eating less and exercising more, changing our businesses means having to become the kind of person who commits to a regimen of developing as people, as managers, as communicators, as coaches… As leaders in other words.

We have to become leaders, the kind of people, who do what needs to be done, to build the kind of businesses that make a million dollars net profit (or substitute whatever figure is relevant for you).

It’s often referred to as the Be, Do, Have model.

Couldn’t I just flick a switch?

Becoming that kind of business owner, that kind of leader, who builds that kind of business, doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t flick a switch and suddenly become that person. Change is a Journey, an adventure, a process of growth. It takes time and commitment, and nobody can know, on forehand, what your adventure is going to look like or what the outcome of your Journey is going to be. Every business owner has his or her own Journey to make, and every Journey is different.

The one thing we can be sure of is this:

Change won’t happen unless you get on the Journey.

Getting on the Journey means stepping out of your comfort-zone and then staying there. You have to push off from the shore, get out onto the ocean, set a course for the horizon and not come back, because Change never happens in the safety of the harbour.

And you know this already. Take a look back over your life to date: It’s all been a Journey. Ten years ago you couldn’t have done what you do today.

But sometimes we just get stuck for a while in the safety of the harbour. Stepping out of your comfort-zone, leaving the harbour, is hard. The day-to-day of scrubbing the decks, repairing the sails and polishing the brass work gets in the way. And before you know it, the day-to-day is all there is.

The two questions you need to answer

That leads to two questions:

  1. How do you know you’re ready to get on the Journey?
  2. How do you get on that Journey?

The first question is the easiest as well as the hardest to answer:

You’re ready when you feel you’re ready.

More about the connection between personal and Business Change:

Being in the harbour

Do take a few minutes to watch this gorgeous TED talk by David Whyte, on past and future and journeys of Change.

There’s nothing wrong with being in the harbour for a while. We need to make sure the ship is seaworthy and safe, we need to make sure we know how to sail the ship, we need to learn to navigate and we need to get clear about the compass course we’re going to set once we get under way. The harbour is a great place to do all those things. But there comes a moment when the pull of the wide open ocean becomes irresistible. That’s when it’s time to go. And when you do: Set the course, hoist the sails, put your gaze on the horizon, and don’t look back.

How do you get on the Journey?

And the second question: How do you get on that Journey?

There are many ways to strike out, but one way to get onto such a Journey of discovery, is with me. I take my clients on inspiring journeys like that all the time. You could think of me like the captain of the ship. I know how to keep the ship safe, I know how to navigate, how not to hit the reefs and how to get safely back into harbour at the other end.

And I’d love to come on your next adventure with you.

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This is what the Adventure looks like with me:

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to push off and get under way, the process I will take you through is this:

  1. We’ll get very clear about the state of your business and life as it is at the moment. What are the strengths of the business? What are your strengths as the business owner? Where are the stresses in your life? What are the areas in the business that are falling behind? What are the areas you need to develop in as leader?
  2. We take several small steps first. You’ll get to put your toe in the water, feel what it’s like working with me. It’s called the Five Steps to Discovery Process, and it’s mostly free.
  3. We’ll get equally clear about what we want the other end of the Journey to look like. In 6 – 9 – 12 months what do you want your business and your life to look like, in great detail? We’ll develop an enormous set of Goals and picture of the desired future. The Goals will include tangibles, and intangibles. It will include financial targets, and KPI’s across all areas of the business and your life. It will include your state of mind and your health and wellbeing, and everything else that you need to explore and discover to build the business and the life you dream off.
  4. We’ll develop a strategic plan for the achievement of the Goal, with a wide range of monthly milestones.
  5. We’ll shake hands and commit to the Journey, get on board, set the compass course for The Goal, push off, and not come back.

Ultimately, making the decision to Change, to get on the Journey, is Fun. It may not always appear that way, when looking out onto the vastness of the ocean at first, but it will be the most satisfying decision you’ve taken in a long time… I promise you.

Further reading:

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