Many years ago my business was bubbling along fairly nicely. It had been going for about 13 years.
I was working fairly hard. Work was somehow finding me and I was getting by.
The thought of using a business coach never occurred to me. In fact, if I recall correctly I wasn’t even really aware of the concept of a business coach. When I first heard of it, it seemed like an indulgent concept for people who can’t get their act together.
I guess the thing is, we don’t know, what we don’t know. I didn’t need a business coach because I didn’t know why I would need one. I didn’t understand what a coach could do for my business and how it could help.
Taking a risk
But I took a risk. I had a coffee with a tall Dutchman I met at a networking function. We talked a bit about what he did and how the process of a coach worked.
As someone who worked on his own, I started to get an idea of the benefit of having someone on the side keeping me focused and accountable to my goals and strategies.
But it wasn’t until I started working with Roland that I truly finally understood why I needed a coach. Because it was during those months of working together that my business transformed into the sustainable business that it is today.
Having an outsider working with me on my business was powerful. He was able to help me see a big picture view of the business and what was required to move ahead in the right direction. It is virtually impossible to do that on your own when you are preoccupied with the day to day running of the operation.
He was able to help me define appropriate goals that aligned with the journey I was on. He would challenge me on processes and logic. He would push me to find the right solution that was best for me personally and professionally.
We identified what was required to generate more business, improve processes, allocated appropriate resources, reduce stress, deliver quality output and increase profits.
We set goals and we achieved them. As a solo operator the benefit of having a mentor, a coach, a sage in your corner is transformative. But you won’t know that until you know it. And you won’t know it until you do it.
Geoff Anderson is a video producer and owner of Sonic Sight. He is the author of Shoot Me Now and presents on using video to boost business.
I read a great article in Leaders in Heels, online the other day (read it here) about the reasons for taking on a business coach.
The article got me thinking about my profession, about what I do and why working with me and people like me can make such an enormous difference to your business growth and development, and hence why I firmly believe that taking on a coach from time to time is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in your business.
There is one reason above all others, that you should know about and noone tells you about. And that is this… it’s not the brilliance of the coach, rather it is the commitment you make that makes the difference.
The conventional factors
The article by Ros Cardinal mentions a number of important benefits from taking on a coach, such as:
Time management and prioritisation, clarity, brainstorming and accountability. and those are absolutely great benefits you’ll gain from having a coach (a good one anyway) and there a bunch of others, depending on the coach and the relationship you and your coach may have.
But the biggest one is rarely mentioned, because it actually is not dependent on the qualities, knowledge and experience of your coach… It is the commitment made by you, the client. Obviously coaches don’t like to mention this too much, because they want you to think they are brilliant and that their singular brilliance is going to make you rich and successful… I’m no different really, I am similarly convinced of my genius… but in the depth of the night, when noone is listening, I know it hasn’t got anywhere near as much to do with my talents as I like to make out.
To take on a business coach costs significant time, energy and money. To sign a contract or shake hands with a business coach is not a decision to be taken lightly. It takes a lot of faith and trust and actually not going to make your life easier in the short term. I say to my clients that taking me on as their coach: “Is full-on, it’s intense, it’s made grown men cry… but it works”
And one of the reasons it works is that it is a big commitment, and once you make the big commitment it means you become highly invested to make it work for you by hook or by crook.
Once you make the commitment and I am up to the job of “holding the space” and being there for you every step of the way, the change becomes relentless and unavoidable.
It’s the reason I actually make it quite hard to engage with me (which doesn’t help my business model of course but then the dentists kids have holes in their teeth… maybe I need a new business coach!)
Next time you talk to a business coach who wants to make it easy to sign you up… go and find someone else… I promise you.
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
The Oxford dictionary defines Overwhelm as: “Bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something”.
This is my definition: When we are in a state of overwhelm, we have a sense of being ill-equipped to deal with the demands that are placed on us, in other words, we feel like there is too much to deal with right now.
Being in a state of overwhelm is no picnic. Overwhelm is a major cause of stress, anxiety and depression in our society, and small business owners experience overwhelm more than most.
Being a Builder
A long time ago when I still had my building company, there was one feeling I experienced more than anything on a day to day basis, and that feeling was overwhelm.
There were so many different business development priorities jostling for attention in my brain that I simply didn’t know which one to focus on. On a daily basis, there would be financial management, marketing, customers, systemisation, planning, quality assurance, sales, staff, contractor issues, etc etc.
Some days this sense of overwhelm became so great that I would become quite paralysed and waste the whole of the day surfing the internet (remember this was over 10 years ago, before Facebook came along to make life even more distracting) Other times, especially when I was still actively “on the tools”, I would spend days doing stuff I could have delegated to the labourers on my team, instead of wielding the shovel and hammer myself.
Overwhelm stymied the development of my business and I know that if I’d managed to find a way to manage myself better, the business would have developed further and sooner.
The paradox of choice
It is a well-established fact that too much choice leads to overwhelm and decision paralysis. Here is a quote from a 2009 TED talk called “The paradox of choice” by professor Barry Schwartz:
“A colleague of mine got access to investment records from a gigantic mutual fund company of about a million employees and about 2,000 different workplaces. And what she found is that for every 10 mutual funds the employer offered, the rate of participation went down two percent. You offer 50 funds — 10 percent fewer employees participate than if you only offer five. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from, it’s so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you’ll just put it off until tomorrow.”
100 colours white
And I’m sure we’ve all experienced how much harder it is to decide on the new paint colour for our living room when the average paint store has a choice of 100 or more different shades of white alone.
As small business owners we are not unique in experiencing overwhelm, stress and anxiety, but there are some aspects to running a small business that are unique:
We simply do not have the resources in time and money to be able to address all the business development priorities that are vying for our attention; they will always have to be culled ruthlessly.
But generally we don’t feel well enough equipped to be able to decide what to cull.
And besides that, even if we did, most of the pressing issues relate to aspects of business that are well outside our specific skill=set (The skill-set that is the foundation on which we started the business: carpentry, architecture, cooking, widget-making, etc.)
This is the reality of being a small business owner: more stuff to do than you can poke a stick at, all of it really important, but most of it out of your comfort zone.
No wonder we procrastinate.
My clients will often tell me that they are the world’s worst procrastinators and that they are lazier than anyone they’ve ever met.
But laziness has nothing to do with it, more often than not procrastination and “time wasting” comes from a lack of clarity about what the most important thing to do next is and feeling insecure that we’d know how to do it if we did know.
Besides procrastination, the other default response we have to this sense of overwhelm is to pick up our trusted hammer (scale rule, cook’s knife or widget machine) and do some more hammering instead.
Do you recognise any of that?
Do you spend more time than you should “hammering” and not enough time addressing the business development issues? And when you do put down the hammer, do you find yourself procrastinating and not getting as much done as you think you should?
Trust me, most of us do, all the time.
The way out
So what is the way out? Given that I don’t believe in easy answers and one-size-fits-all solutions, let me give you a 5-ingredient recipe to put on the stove and experiment with that will start to take the sting out of this challenge for you:
Step 1: Stop beating yourself up, you are not the world’s laziest business owner. (I am… obviously). Seriously, start by accepting that the challenge you have in this area is really common, we all face it every day, it’s normal.
Step 2: Write down what the major business development priorities are for you at a high level (marketing, cashflow, etc)
Step 3: Ask yourself this question: If there was one priority I could do something with today that would move my business forward one single step, what priority would that be? Lock in the first answer that comes to mind, trust your gut feeling on this.
Step 4: Ask yourself a second question: What specific action(s) can I take today in relation to that business development priority that will make a real difference in my business?
Step 5: Block out a specific time in your diary today to carry out that specific action(s)
What makes this recipe such a nice one to experiment with is this:
That there are a few skills you have achieved mastery in, “beating yourself up” is one of those, you don’t need to practice it anymore, it wastes precious creative energy and time, and makes you feel like crap.
Actually forcing yourself to make a choice between all the different priorities is challenging, but your gut feeling (the unconscious) will actually know the answer, and you can trust it.
Breaking the major priority area down into a small, specific action that you can block out a specific time in your diary for, can make it a lot easier to cut through the overwhelm and help you focus.
If you get yourself into a habit (and remember habits take 28 days of consecutive practice to cement) to go through this process every day, I promise you that your business and your life will never be the same again.
Cheers, Roland Hanekroot
Call me if you’d like to explore how I can help you have less Overwhelm and more FUN in your business and build a business that sustains you for years to come. A great first step is to come along to one of my monthly Small Business Masterminds workshops… follow this link
Interview of myself by Tom Poland from the B.O.M.B. The Business Owners Marketing Brief.
A quick 5 minute take on why focusing on having Fun in business is the most effective way to ensure that your business does everything it is meant to do, while actually having as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
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Kelvin realises that his bike shop has one great opportunity to carve out a niche for his bikeshop and build remarkable business.
Once upon a time… a long, long time ago in a country not unlike Australia…
Kelvin owned a bicycle shop in Sydney.
Selling bicycles is not easy. There is so much competition as people can buy bikes at specialist bike shops or at big retail stores like Big W and Kmart, and, like everything else these days, you can even buy bikes over the internet.
Kelvin’s bike shop was doing ok but he was worried about the effects of both the big box retailers and all the online stores. Kelvin felt constant pressure to make his prices competitive, and knew that his repair work was suffering because customers would often ask him to just fit parts they had bought themselves online.
“How can I possibly turn the ship around?” asked Kelvin.
Kelvin was worried.
Working in The Bootcamp with me, Kelvin came to appreciate that it was imperative he change his whole approach to doing business. He realised that he could never out-compete the big retailers, and that fighting over the crumbs with his fellow suburban bike shops would be a disaster.
Looking into Kelvin’s options for revitalising his business we came across a quote from Chris Zane, a bike shop owner in America: “The only difference between our competitors and us is the service we provide.”
Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement.
He knew there was no difference between the bikes he was selling and those sold by his competitors. He knew they were all fishing in the same pool trying to catch the same limited number of fish, and that the only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to enjoy the fishing again.
It took a lot of courage, but he did it.
Working in The Bootcamp Kelvin developed a whole new approach to running his bike shop, an approach based on providing astounding service. Kelvin was determined that the service customers received in his shop would leave them surprised and delighted.
How did Kelvin do this? A number of great ways: he implemented a life-time free flat tire repair service, he offered a no-questions-asked replacement guarantee for all bikes and accessories for up to six months after purchase, and he taught his staff that from now on the word “No” was banned and no customer request could be refused.
Soon the word started spreading about Kelvin’s astounding service, and people would come into the store just to check it out. The place was buzzing most days, and the staff loved doing whatever they could to amaze their customers.
A couple of years later, Kelvin’s business has grown so much he has just moved to a new location three times as big. With his great service Kelvin has succeeded in creating a whole new fish pond.
And Kelvin lived happily ever after… The end.
Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make profound things happen in your business?