The foundations of a Fun business

TTTMBF hedgehog professor

The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the second article in a series on Making Business Fun: Building a fun business starts with Why; Purpose, Passion and Profit.

The first article in the series, explaining why Fun in Business is the key to building a business that sustains you for years to come is here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and many other resources are available for free here

Building a Fun Business: The Foundations

Introducing the hedgehog

introducing the hedgehogOne of the greatest business management books of the last 20 years is called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. The book explores what makes average companies become great, and a number of the conclusions translate just as well into the world of small business. In particular, I have seen time and time again with clients, friends, colleagues and in my own business that what Jim Collins refers to as the “Hedgehog Principles” are the absolute foundations upon which to build a Fun Business (and a business that sustains you for years to come).

The Big Question of Small Business: Purpose, Passion and Profit

I call it The Big Question of Small Business: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care? The answer is all about the three Ps: Purpose, Passion and Profit.

Jim Collins in his book talks about the simplicity and single-mindedness of the hedgehog.

In order to stay alive, hedgehogs do one thing really well: roll up into a spikey ball when under attack. They do this over and over again, never tempted to vary their approach. The Hedgehog Principles state that a long-term successful business must be able to answer three questions unequivocally and, like the humble hedgehog, never waiver from its commitment to the answers. The three questions are about Purpose, Passion and Profit and together they combine into the one big question I mentioned above, The Big Question of Small Business and

Many businesses can answer one of the three, some can answer two, but very few can satisfy all three. Long-term sustainable success is absolutely dependent on there being complete clarity for all three questions at once.

1) Purpose: A Fun Business Strives to be the Best in the World at ‘Something’

I'm the best there is Question 1: What will we strive to be the best in the world at, day in and day out, without fail?

In the 21st century, it is simply not good enough to answer this question the way most business owners do:

“I give really good customer service.”

“My prices are fantastic.”

“I provide great products and services.”

Why? Because all of your competitors are saying exactly the same thing. Customers want to know what makes you different to everyone else. If you don’t clearly communicate the answer to the first Hedgehog Question, you are essentially leaving it in your customers’ hands to work out what sets you and your competition apart.

Oh, and I know it might feel a little unrealistic to aim to be “the best plumber in the world”, but you can sure as hell strive to be the best plumber in your world (perhaps your suburb) and for your narrow niche or sub-speciality.

Remember, customers always want to know what’s in it for them.

2: Passion: A Fun Business is Passionate About That ‘Something’

passion in business Question 2: What are we absolutely passionate about and will happily jump out of bed for, day in and day out, year after year?

Many business authors have written about the importance of this question:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek (It All Starts with Why)

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For – Roy Spence

There is no doubt that there is deep truth in these statements. People want to know what you stand for: your core values and beliefs. It is this information, more than anything else, that helps them decide to do business with you over your competitors.

You can be passionate about so many things in relation to your business: making people smile, being a trendsetter, helping people achieve their dreams, building partnerships, or even seeing people improve their diet. These are passions that can be clearly connected to and expressed in the purpose of your business, and customers will understand why they’d want to do business with you.

If you don’t care about your business then your customers certainly won’t either, so you must honestly consider what gets you out of bed in the morning and how that relates to what your business does. Oh, and let me give you a hint: your passion for making money won’t do as the answer to this question (sorry!).

I promise, if your passion and your business purpose coincide, you will find it so much easier to take the next steps to building a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.

Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for.

3: Profit: A Fun Business Makes Sustainable Profits from That ‘Something’

tttmbf profit Question 3: How can we create a long-term sustainable economic model around the answers that we gave to questions one and two?

This question is actually more complicated than it seems, and most businesses never really sit down to work it out properly.

Firstly, just because we are passionate about something and we are the best in the world at delivering that something doesn’t guarantee we can build a business out of it: Is there enough of a market to win consistent work in your area? Do you need to expand into other complementary services or build a flexible team that can manage peaks and troughs in demand?

Secondly, a business must make money to survive. How much money the business needs to make is a complex question to answer. Your business will likely need to provide for your financial needs, and it will also need to make enough profit to provide a return on investment to the shareholders or investors (even if that’s just you and your financial input). A business also needs funds to grow – actual cash that you can use to pay your bills. Businesses in a growth phase will be particularly thirsty for cash and the best way to quench it is by having profits.

Thirdly, it’s important to think about your business’ ability to generate steady long-term profit and cash flow. In other words, if you don’t think about the sustainability of your business model, you might end up with a flash in the pan. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your business is not reliant on one customer for more than 10% of its revenue.

Finally, the last reason why a business must make profit: Making money is a lot of fun. It is simply a heap of fun to make money and to see the balance sheet grow!

Remember, a business that doesn’t generate profits and cash is a hobby.

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

If you make sustainable profits from doing something you are passionate about and committed to being the best in the world at, all the steps towards building a Fun Business will fall into place – I promise. And the way I see it, if you are not in business to have a lot of fun then I suggest you find an easier way to make a living!

Still eager to stick with this messy-and-tricky-yet-incredibly-fun entrepreneurial stuff? Ask yourself the following question today:

  • What first steps can I take in the next few weeks to focus my business on the three Hedgehog Questions?

More on this topic:

 

Your time, your kindness and your No, is what creates success

a cup of self love

The Three Secrets to Building a Beautiful Business and Life

self esteem and kindness

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck in your business? My guess is that most of us have, and, if you haven’t, then you’re either knee-deep in denial or some kind of entrepreneurial unicorn. (If you fit into the latter category, feel free to move smugly on to another blog post… but not before you send me your secrets!)

Learning to say No is the most important skill a business owner must learn
When we first start out on our entrepreneurial journey, we’re told that success is all about the sensible, hardnosed principles and business buzzwords that you’ve likely heard a bazillion times: visioning, leadership, delegation, systems, planning, KPIs, and more. Of course, all of these things are crucially important, but there are three key principles that matter even more.

Three Unrecognised Factors for Success

I believe there are three undervalued and almost unrecognised factors for business success that are far more important than all those clichéd examples put together. These are the secrets to getting unstuck, stepping out of overwhelm and finally building the beautiful business and life that you deserve.

So, what must you learn?

  1. Your time is your business’ most valuable asset.
  2. It’s okay to say “no”, often.
  3. Be kind to yourself.

And that, my friends, is it.

Simple, right? Too simple for some of your sceptical minds, I’m sure. In fact, I can feel the eye rolls and smirks burning through the screen, but don’t write my theory off just yet! Your beautiful business (and life) is on the other side of listening to, and applying, what I’m about to share.

Maximising Time: Your Most Valuable Asset

In my experience, most business owners believe their most valuable asset is their staff, customers, intellectual property, stock, equipment or buildings. All of these things (or people) are incredibly valuable, for sure, but time is the only asset that is truly limited. You can never get more time – no matter how much you try to beg, borrow, hire, buy or steal.

Your time – spent fully focused on the stuff that really matters – is an asset almost as rare as rocking horse droppings.

In order to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to become greedy with your time. You need to repeatedly check in and ask yourself questions like:

  1. Is this thing the best use of my time right now?
  2. What would happen if I didn’t do this thing?
  3. Is there someone else who could be doing this thing instead of me?
  4. What would happen if I did this thing later?
  5. If I do this thing now, what am I sacrificing?

Trust me: it pays to train yourself to ask these questions, often. Make it a habit. You will always have a “to do” list longer than your arm. You will always have more demands on your time than you can physically fit into a good day’s work. That is, of course, if you aren’t an aforementioned entrepreneurial unicorn (in which case, why are you still reading?!).

In short: learn to do only the stuff that matters most.

Saying “Yes” to Saying No

There is no more important skill for a business owner than knowing how and when to say “no”. Why? For starters, it will help you out immensely with achieving point 1 (maximising your time), but it will also pave the way for making your business stand out from the crowd.

Marketing 101 says that every business needs a unique selling point (USP). That’s why it pays to know your fortes and play to them by turning other opportunities down. After all, “a jack of all trades is the master of none”. Focus on your fortes and you’ll reap the rewards of presenting a highly differentiated brand.

Here’s some homework to get you started. Practice saying “no” in front of the mirror and then make a pact with yourself to say it for real at least once this week – or better yet, today! Remember, it is possible to say “no” respectfully, clearly, calmly and without feeling guilty. This brings me to my next point…

Less Guilt, More Kindness

Do you frequently beat yourself up for procrastinating? Believe you’re inherently disorganised, forgetful and lazy? Think your time management SUCKS? Does a cruel voice in your head frequently tell you that you’re not good enough?

You’re not alone. Absolutely everybody (except psychopaths!) has that critical inner voice. Everyone lets their worries, anxieties and irrational feelings of guilt get the best of them sometimes. However, us business owners are particularly hard on ourselves. In fact, I often jokingly say that small business owners are the most guilt-ridden people on the planet because I hear these kinds of self-deprecating words so often in my coaching practice.

That’s why I saved this particular pearl of wisdom for last, hoping you would remember and digest it well. In my humble opinion, being kind to yourself is not only the most powerful antidote to self-sabotage, but your fastest path back to JOY.

Being kind to yourself is not just the most effective way out of feeling stuck or overwhelmed in your business and your life – it’s the only way.

When we allow negativity and feelings of guilt to take hold, we give ourselves ever bigger burdens to carry. We set the bar impossibly high and then we punish ourselves when we don’t hit the mark. We lead ourselves to the paralysing place of overwhelm with too many tasks to complete in too little time and no plausible end in sight.

An overwhelmed brain is not pretty. It’s extremely inefficient, scientifically proven to underperform at every level and an enormous waste of your incredibly valuable time. And while the devil on your shoulder is, in fact, a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe, that doesn’t mean it ain’t a giant pain in the arse. So, how do we overcome it?

The good news is that you are completely capable of dialling down the negative voice and freeing yourself of imposter syndrome (feeling inadequate despite your success). Our brains are surprisingly malleable, and it IS possible to break the habit of a lifetime. Begin by noticing it and catching yourself in the act. Be inquisitive about where the self-doubt could be coming from. Remain compassionate, judgement-free and patient with your perfectly imperfect self while you reframe those pesky misperceptions and then continue on your merry way feeling 10 stone lighter!

I promise you; this soft, cuddly kindness stuff is the most crucial and hard-hitting work of all. Silencing (or at least muting because it’s a work in progress for all of us, including me!) that inner critic provides the space for creativity to flourish and a new level of clarity and productivity to arise. Plus, as soppy as it sounds, you have every right and reason to give yourself a pat on the pack. You’ve made it this far. You’re alive. You’re learning. You’re growing.

Your Permission Slip

So, here’s your permission slip to stop, give yourself a break and smell the roses. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Tell that little voice in your head to kindly move along because you’ve got this, and you ARE good enough. Now, make a note of my TLDR summary below and then TAKE ACTION on the good stuff today.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck and you want to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to:

  1. Accept that your time is your business’ most valuable asset – and act accordingly.
  2. Say “no” regularly, calmly, respectfully and clearly.
  3. Be kind to yourself, above all else.

This shit works. I promise you.

Hungry for more hot tips? Subscribe to my emails and get easy-to-digest, one-minute pearls of business wisdom delivered straight to your inbox each week.

More about these topics:

AR Business-Life Coaching Principles

What is Business-Life Coaching?

And who cares anyway?

Getting help, Business Life Coaching, external support

Building a Beautiful Business starts at home…

What does it take to build your own Beautiful Business and Life? What is Business-Life Coaching anyway? What are the Principles of Business-Life Coaching? How is Business-Life Coaching different from any other form of business support or guidance. And above all, why should that matter to you at all?

Business-Life Coaching… It’s about everything

When thinking about building a Beautiful Business, we tend to think about:

Systems… Human resources… Killer products… Efficiency… Financial Management… IP… Culture… Asset Management… Strategy… Innovation… Marketing… Sales… Planning… Vision… Purpose… Systems… Quality Assurance… Profit… Cash flow

And possibly a bunch of others I’ve yet forgotten.

When did you last look in the mirror?

Which of those are the most important, do you think? Which of these matter more than any others?

They’re all important, no doubt, but the key factor in developing a Beautiful Business and Life isn’t in the list above. The aspect of business that “Rules them all”, in the words of Gandalf in The Lord of The Rings, is looking at you in the mirror… That’s right, You… Little Old You.

More money, more time, more balance, more life…

The Principles of Business-Life Coaching can be expressed in this statement:

If you want something you’ve never had before,

First, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.

As you’re reading this page, I imagine you want the future of your business and your life to be different than it is now. You want to grow, make more money, find more time, have greater work-life-balance, retire (with a bunch of cash), make the world a better place, be proud of the stuff your business produces, and make a difference.

And that’s great, I love supporting people that have exciting dreams and want to make a splash. It’s what I get out of bed for every day.

Are you the kind of person?

But none of us can have any of those dreams, unless we’re prepared to become the kind of person who builds the kind of business that makes the kind of profit you dream of, or that makes the kind of difference we dream of, or that is sold for the kind of dollars we dream of. Would you like to Discover what’s possible for you and your business?

Hence my focus on Business and Life Coaching. The “hard” skills as well as the “soft” skills of developing your business. I will teach you about the latest business management thinking, and we’ll design new systems customised to your business. We’ll create business and marketing plans that work and implement them. We’ll get clear about the Purpose of your business, you’ll implement controls and get good at numbers so that you have your fingers on the Pulse every day. We’ll get your staff firing on all cylinders. We may develop new products and come up with innovative solutions to bust past the hurdles that have held your business back.

You’ve Got All Da Moves…

We’ll do all that and much more besides, but at the same time we’ll be working on what it takes to be a great business owner who builds a Beautiful Business and Life. We’ll work on leadership skills, self management skills, developing your vision, prioritising what’s most important in your life, goal setting, strategic thinking, planning, communication, people management, how to get out of crisis management, and above all we’ll work on how to look after yourself.

Building a Beautiful Business and Life, is a journey out of your comfort zone. It means you have to be prepared to look at yourself, acknowledge that you’re the bottleneck that holds your business back and say:

“Now is the time to Change”

Further reading:

The Ten Priorities; Priority #10: Managing your Market

Ten Priorities in business, Marketing, publicity, PR

Ten Priorities in business, Marketing, publicity, PR

The Rule of Everything

This is the tenth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The tenth Priority is about Managing the marketing.  The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

The second rule of Seth Godin is to make sure lots of people know about your great product or service.

It may seem obvious. No matter how great your products, your people, your systems, your visions and your plans are, if nobody knows how great they, there will be no business.

Many business owners will go out of their way to build a great product, but forget the second Rule. (BTW, the inverse is also true, more about the two different types of entrepreneurs here)

But both rules are equally important.

A business owner who wants to build a great business must learn that in business:

Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.

A great business owner asks himself about the marketing dimension of every aspect of the business. Marketing is as much about the way the business goes about collecting its debts, or about the way people answer the telephones, or about its product warranty, as it is about the Facebook advertising campaign it’s running.

In fact, it can be said, that any activity in the business that does not have a marketing dimension to it, is a waste and should be stopped immediately. (more about the basics of marketing here)

When you learn to ask yourself about the marketing aspect to every decision you make, every system you develop and every action you take, every day, your business will flourish… I promise you.

Now that you’ve finished Ten Priorities, find out more about yourself and take “The Entrepreneur Type Survey”

Click here to go to the Entrepreneur Type Scale Survey

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #8: Managing your People

Ten Priorities, finance management

ten priorities in business people management

Delegate, don’t abdicate

This is the eighth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The eighth Priority is about Managing your People. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

Great businesses employ great people that deliver great work.

Business owners who want to build great businesses must get good at managing people. There is no way around that.

But for many business owners, people are a source of great stress and anxiety. They spend their days hoping things will go ok, and practice the ancient art of:

Management by keeping your fingers crossed

And that’s because they Abdicate, instead of Delegate to their employees.

Abdicating is giving someone a job and hoping they’ll somehow get it done right.

Most people feel good when they have an opportunity to do good work. Human beings (and employees are in fact human beings, I promise you) get a lot of satisfaction from doing good work, but the problem is, they often don’t know what constitutes good work. They’ve not been given clear outcomes, and they’re given conflicting priorities and feedback. And so, they flounder, they make it up themselves, they disengage, and the job does not get done right.

Delegating, on the other hand, is about discussing the job with the employee; explaining to them what the required outcomes of the job are; making it clear what good work looks like; asking for input and buy-in on the job; asking what the person needs to be able to deliver the required outcomes; agreeing on time frames and check-in points, and finally, agreeing on reporting and KPI’s for the work. (More about engaging your staff here)

When you learn how to delegate while keeping your fingers on the pulse as opposed to keeping them crossed, you will start to build a great business… I promise you.

Next week, Priority #9: Your Products or Services

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #7: Managing your Finances

Ten Priorities in business, financial management

Ten Priorities in business, financial management

Take control

This is the seventh post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The seventh Priority is about Managing the Money. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

I’ve said before (in priority #3), that a business must make profit, or it’s a hobby.

But in Priority #7 we’re not talking about profit, we’re talking about financial management.

Most business owners outsource the bookkeeping and accounting functions of their business. That’s great, but there are two problems with that:

  • Business owners often misunderstand what accounting is.
  • Reporting arrangements are often inadequate

The misunderstanding is that business owners generally don’t appreciate that there are two different types of accounting:

  • Compliance accounting
  • Financial management accounting

Compliance accounting is simply about how much tax the business must pay. What matters about that, is that it is done properly and timely. But compliance accounting is only the tip of the iceberg.

The most interesting part of the iceberg

The rest of the iceberg, the most interesting part of the iceberg is Financial Management accounting. Accounting that answers questions such as: “Last month, what percentage of our income went to wages?” Or, “In the last six months, which have been our 10 most profitable products?”

And that leads to the second of the problems I mentioned before:

You must get regular reports that give you the answers to the financial management questions that matter to you. And those reports must arrive promptly. I tell my clients to insist that the financial management reports about last month arrive on their desk no later than the fifth day of the new month.

When you sit down with your accountant and bookkeeper and explore with them the financial management questions you need answers to, to build a great business, and insist they give you those answers, every month, your business and your life will never be the same again… I promise you

Next week, Priority #8: Managing your People

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #6: Asking for Help

Ten Priorities, external advice

Ten Priorities, external advice

It takes a village

This is the sixth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The sixth Priority is about not doing it all on your own. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

Do you have a little voice on your shoulder, that whispers in your ear?

Most of us do.

And a lot of what the little voice whispers in our ears is not very nice, is it?

The basic message from the little voice, is that we suck.

We’re not good enough. We’re not cutting it as parents, as lovers, as friends and especially we’re not cutting it as business owners.

And for most business owners that little voice goes from whispering to yelling, the moment we even consider committing the heinous crime of asking for help.

Asking for support in business, is almost guaranteed to get the little voice on our shoulder extremely excited.

Deep down we all believe that being a great business owner, an inspiration to our staff and customers alike, means we must do it all ourselves. We seem to think that business success is only meaningful if we’ve done it all alone.

Hogwash… Utter nonsense.

It takes a village to build a great business. One of my most successful and oldest clients has built a whole team of specialist advisers, coaches and mentors around him. (more about getting external help here)

I guarantee that no matter which inspiring business role model you interview, they’ll all tell you their success is due partly to the support of one or more mentors, coaches or advisers.

No-one can do it all alone.

You need other people to:

  • Hold you accountable to your plans and goals.
  • Brainstorm with you and be a sounding board.
  • Support you when you stumble.
  • Give you honest opinions, advice and feedback.

There are many ways to get outside support. You can join a business support group, get a business coach, or mentor, start your own advisory board, or all of the above. But whatever you do, dropkick your little voice…Forget trying to do it all on your own… You can’t … I promise you.

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

Next week, Priority #7: Managing Money

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #5: Guessing

ten priorities in business, planning guessing

What’s the most important question to ask yourself every day?

This is the fifth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The fifth Priority is about Planning.  The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

Nothing of value was ever achieved by humans without a plan.

This is a fact

A business without a plan achieves everything in it

Yet planning is guessing, right? Nobody can know what tomorrow is actually going to look like, all we can do is guess.

That’s planning: We’re at point A, and we want to get to point B by date X. There are many routes to point B, so knowing what we know about today and given what we expect the world to look like tomorrow, what do we guess is the best route to get to point B by X?

Tomorrow the world changes

But tomorrow the world is a different place. Tomorrow it might snow along the route we’d planned to take to point B, and we must change the route.

That’s the secret about planning: Planning is something we must do again every day. When realities change, we must change our plans right along with them. (more about Planning here).

The most effective leaders have already thought about the possibility of snow along the chosen route, long before the snow actually appears, and they’ve already worked out how to change the route to point B in that eventuality.

Business owners who build great businesses, constantly ask themselves:

What if?

They ask themselves: “We’ve got a plan, based on certain assumptions… But… What if… any one of those assumptions turns out to be wrong, what do we do instead?”

When you learn to ask, “What if?”, all the time, you’ll respond quickly and appropriately to the changing realities and keep your business moving forward… I promise you

Next week, Priority #6: Asking for Help

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #3: Having Fun

ten priorities fun in business

What is the only measurement that matters in business?

This is the third post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The third Priority is about Having Fun. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

If you could only measure one thing to know how successful your business was at any one moment in time, what would you want to measure?

Most business owners will mention profit. And profit matters a lot of course, if you’re not making profit you’re operating a hobby, not a business, simple as that. But there is something even more important than profit in your business, and that’s Fun.

Fun is all that matters in business

Fun is all that matters in business

You see if Business is Fun, it means everything is working. (read more about Fun in Business here)

  • It means you’re making money
  • It means your customers love you
  • It means your staff are highly engaged
  • It means you’re proud of the products or services your business provides
  • It means you have created the kind of balance in work and live that is important for you
  • And it means you’re engaged in something meaningful, bigger than you.

By focusing solely on money as the indicator of success in business, you are doing yourself and everyone else who is touched by the business a disservice.

Obviously, measuring Fun in Business is not as simple as looking at your bank balance and you have to get creative about how you go about measuring it, but it’s quite doable and it will change the way you think about building a Great Business and Life… I promise you.

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

Next week Priority #4: Saying No

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

BQ Guidance support coaching external advice mentoring

How can I find the right support, advice

and guidance in my business?

12 questions to find the right support guidance advice coach business

No entrepreneur has ever done it all alone. You need help, 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 in Africa somewhere, dying because he’s been kicked out of his tribe”. We can not 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.

Powerful 12 Questions Guide and videos

But hiring a coach, a 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 and besides the Guide, there is also a second much more comprehensive video to help you through the whole process of finding, inteviewing and selecting the perfect coach for you and your business.

Free Discovery Process

You can also Click here to go straight to my Five Steps to Discovery Process to find the support you need to discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life

Skip ahead to the relevant sections:

Why couldn’t I do it alone?

In business we need other people to:

  • To reality check our assumptions
  • To brainstorm
  • To hold a mirror up to us
  • To develop strategic plans
  • To hold us accountable
  • To give us outside perspectives
  • To pick us up when we’re down
  • To give us a sense of belonging
  • To give us honest feedback

Some of that business support can come from our friends and family, but accountability, holding up a mirror, independent perspectives and honest feedback especially, can’t come from those close to you. You can’t ask your spouse to hold you accountable to your strategic Goals, it leads to divorce (trust me on that). Your friends won’t provide an independent perspective, because they’re not independent. Your brother can’t hold a mirror up to you, because there’s too much baggage in your shared history.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

It takes a village

Business coaching guidance support advice

People who build Beautiful Businesses and Lives, know it takes a village and they are always looking for the right support. My oldest and most successful client, has three different coaches, and he cycles between us. He does 6 months with me and then he goes and works with his business coach in New Zealand and then he does a stint with his executive coach and then he comes back to me again.  (You can read the story of Narinder Singh from QE foodstores here)

Besides us three coaches Narinder has developed important relationships with his external accountant, his HR consultant, a marketing consultant, an IT consultant and a property adviser. He’s involved all of his advisers in all of his big decisions and planning in the past 10 years, and he credits his team of advisers and coaches 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).

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

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 myself have engaged, mentors, coaches, consultants, counsellors and therapists in the past 15 years and I’ve joined various different business support groups at different times as well.

The main forms of business support:

Mentoring:

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 do their mentoring on a volunteer basis, others get paid a little or a lot. Mentoring can be really powerful in the early years of developing your business. I believe the most effective method to find a great mentor is to find someone you look up to in your industry and approach him or her and simply ask them.

Many senior business owners really enjoy being asked to “give back”. I have have taken a 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 a number of small business mentoring organisations you can contact. One of them is the Small Business Mentoring Services, find out more here.

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 have to drive the agenda. When you sit down with your mentor you have to know what specific questions you need to address in the meeting and what input you need from your mentor. 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).

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

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 Worldwide. Their Australian franchisee is contactable 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 it’s implementation into your business. But to build a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time, you can’t ignore the personal side of growing your business: Find an executive or 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.

Business-Life Coaching:
business support, coaching, guidance, external advice

I am a Business-Life Coach. What that means is that I start from the principle that:

“Your business is what it is today, because of who you are today”. 

This means that if you want your business to change, you must be prepared to change first.

So 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, design new systems customised to your business and help you implement them, but at the same time we’ll be working on what it takes to be a great business owner. We’ll work on leadership skills, self management skills, developing your vision, prioritising, goal setting, strategic thinking, planning, communication, people management, and how to get out of crisis management. (More here)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms on The Five Steps page here. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

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 three coaches 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 3 different executive coaches and make your assessment based on how you feel at the end of each of the three sessions.

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.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Advisory Boards:

Pulling together an advisory board for your business can be a highly effective strategy to get the support you need to drive the development of your business forward. You can create your own board and ask a bunch of people you trust, with varying skills and experience to become part of your board, and maybe meet with them once a month for 2 or 3 hours. You may decide to pay these board members a fee for their time and input or you may ask them to sit on your board on a voluntary basis, and you yourself may in turn do the same for someone else. Advisory boards like this are often really valuable and offer great support, but they can sometimes be short lived, because of time pressure on various board members.

You can also join an advisory board program run by specialist organisations. Those programs are usually run by a professional facilitator and there might be anywhere from 5 to maybe 15 members on a board, all of whom are business owners and the members meet every month and support each other. I run a board program like that from time to time called The Business Growth Club and there are various other organisation that 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 on the journey of entrepreneurship it may be important to improve your skill and knowledge levels. When moving from solo-entrepreneur to small business owner and beyond it can simply 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 enroll in a full MBA program.

Alternatively it may be more relevant for you to engage with the Vocational Education and Training system (VET, via TAFE or via many registered private training organisations in the country, more here) The Business Growth Club program I mentioned above often incorporates a VET training component, leading to the Diploma of Business or to a Diploma of Leadership.

More information about the Business Growth Clubs here

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Further reading about business support

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.