How can I find the right support,advice and guidance in my business?
We all need support, but what type of help do you need?
No human being has ever achieved anything of note on his or her own. In business and in life, humans need other people for support, guidance and belonging. We are wired that way. A mentor of mine used to say, “Right now, there’s a monkey somewhere in Africa dying because he’s been kicked out of his tribe.”.
We cannot function in isolation. That doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes like being on our own (and some people need more alone time than others), but we all need support – especially in business.
It takes a village
People who build beautiful businesses and lives know it takes a village, and they are always looking for the right business support.
My oldest and most successful client has three different coaches, and he cycles between us. He does 6 months with me, then he works with his business coach in New Zealand before doing a stint with his executive coach and then coming back to me again. (Read about the story of Narinder from QE food stores here)
Narinder has also developed important relationships with his external accountant, his HR consultant, a marketing consultant, an IT consultant and a property adviser.
He’s involved all his advisers in every big decision he’s made over the past 10 years, and he credits this team with the fact he is so successful.
(He’s a humble man, so let me put it on record now that his success is at least equally due to his incredible passion and determination, but the point remains.)
As I said above, we all need support when developing our businesses. And what’s more, we need different kinds of support at different stages on the journey. I have personally engaged numerous mentors, coaches, consultants, counsellors and therapists over the past 15 years, and I’ve joined various business support groups as well.
The main forms of business support:
Mentors are often people who’ve “been there, done that”. They’re usually a bit older, they might even be retired, and they often have direct experience in your specific industry or business type. Some mentors work on a volunteer basis, others get paid a little or a lot.
Mentoring can be very powerful in the early years of developing your business. I believe the most effective method for finding a great mentor is to
identify someone you look up to in your industry, then approach them and simply ask.
Many senior business owners really enjoy being asked to “give back”. I have taken the role of mentor for some young business owners in the past and you can feel free to contact me to discuss a mentoring relationship. There are also several small business mentoring organisations you can contact. One of them is the Small Business Mentoring Services.
Whether you work with a volunteer mentor or a paid one, there is one thing you must keep in mind to get the most out of the relationship: You must drive the agenda. When you sit down with your mentor, you should know what specific questions you want to address and what input you need from them. If you don’t control the agenda, you’ll waste enormous amounts of time, and the mentor will start to feel uncomfortable. (More about the secrets of great mentoring relationships here).
Business Coaching Companies:
Business coaching companies generally have developed a system for growing a business and their coaches will teach you the system and help you implement it. One of the best organisations I’ve come across who do exactly this and don’t stray outside of that model are EOS. Contact EOS here.
I believe it can be very useful to work with the right business coaching company for a while, to learn their systems and get help with integrating them into your business. However, to build a beautiful business that stands the test of time, you can’t ignore the personal side of growing your business.
My advice is to find an executive/leadership coach, or someone like me (see below), to support you in the journey of personal development and leadership that is integral to creating the business you dream of.
This means that if you want your business to change, you must be prepared to change first.
That’s why I, and coaches like me, combine the “hard” business systems with the “soft” personal skills. I will teach you about the latest business management systems and techniques. I will also design new systems customised for your business and help you implement them.
But here’s the difference: at the same time, we’ll be working on what it takes to be a great business owner. We’ll focus on leadership skills, self-management skills, developing your vision, prioritising, goal setting, strategic thinking, planning, communication, people management and learning how to get out of crisis management mode. (More about my principles of business-life coaching here)
Free Five Step Discovery Process:
Before we engage in any of my full coaching programs, I always advise we follow my “Five Steps to Discovery Process” [link], starting with a free initial chat and then a free 60-minute Discovery Session (via Skype or similar) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book these through any of the contact forms on this page.
In the Discovery Session, we’ll get to know each other, and I’ll gain some insight into what stage you and your business are at. We’ll also discuss your challenges, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the process for you.
More about my form of Business-Life coaching:
- More about the difference between business coaching companies and a Business-Life Coach like myself here.
- All about my Five Steps to Discovery Process to help you discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life.
- The Journey: “If you want something you’ve never had before, first you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before”
- More about my background here.
- More about my Fun in Business Coaching Programs here.
- More about the Principles of Business-Life Coaching here
- More about my philosophy of Change and Coaching here and also in this article about Change here
Executive Coaching/ Leadership Coaching:
An executive or leadership coach is skilled in helping people develop their leadership skills. Executive coaches are more often engaged with executives of larger organisations than with small business owners, but one of the advisors that Narinder Singh (who I talk about above) works with is an executive coach.
There are many executive coaches to choose from. The best I can suggest is to do an introductory session with a few different executive coaches and make your assessment based on how you feel at the end of each conversation.
Choosing an executive coach is almost entirely about how you click with him or her. Feel free to send me an email to ask for a referral to a trustworthy executive coach. You might also have a look at the website of the International Coach Federation, it’s the professional body of record for executive coaches worldwide.
Pulling together an advisory board can be a highly effective strategy for getting the support you need to drive the development of your business forward.
Here are some suggestions for creating your own advisory board:
- Ask a bunch of people you trust (with varying skills and experience) to become part of your board.
- Meet with them once a month for 2 or 3 hours.
- Pay each member a fee for their time/input or ask them to sit on your board voluntarily (and then you may in turn do the same for someone else).
These kinds of advisory boards are often very valuable and offer great support, but they can sometimes be short-lived because of time pressure on various members.
You can also join an advisory board program run by specialist organisations. These programs are usually led by a professional facilitator and there might be anywhere from 5 to 15 members on a board, all of whom are business owners that want to support each other.
I run a board program like that from time to time called The Business Growth Club and various other organisations do the same thing, such as TEC, The CEO Institute and Coraggio. I’ve also written a White Paper about benefits of Advisory Boards that you can download here.
Business study and training:
At different stages along your journey of entrepreneurship, it may be important to improve your skill and knowledge levels. When moving from solopreneur to small business owner (and beyond!) it can be beneficial to go back to school and learn about the latest business management techniques and philosophies.
You can go to university and take post-graduate or summer school courses on specific topics in marketing, innovation, management, leadership, etc., or you may want to enrol in a full MBA program.
Alternatively, it might be more relevant for you to engage with the Vocational Education and Training system (VET) via TAFE or one of many registered private training organisations in the country more here. The Business Growth Club program I mentioned above often incorporates a VET training component that leads to a Diploma of Business or Diploma of Leadership.
Find more information about the Business Growth Clubs here.
Your next steps:
Hiring a coach, mentor or adviser is a big step. There’s a lot riding on getting it right. Hence, I have created the 12 Questions Guide and Cheat Sheet for finding and hiring the right coach for you!
You can download the guide by filling in the forms on this page or you can go straight to the special 12 Questions page on my website.
Besides the guide, there is also a comprehensive video to help you through the whole process of finding, interviewing and selecting the perfect coach for you and your business.
Further reading about business support
- My Five Steps to Discovery Process
- There is a page with videos and other resources dedicated to mental health and personal wellbeing for business owners here
- My one-on-one and group coaching, mentoring and training programs.
- Case studies of current and past clients and their experience with coaching
- Is your business coach really a consultant?
- How to find a great coach
- Why I didn’t need a business coach
- Funny Cartoon: The ultimate test for your coach
- Why I don’t believe in Coaching and why it works