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It is often said “it is lonely at the top”. That statement is so very true for entrepreneurs. Their heart and soul is invested in their business, not just their money.

Finding the best source for effective support is hard.
Small business owners need to constantly keep their eye on the ball because they have everything on the line. Daily decisions are “make or break” and often there is no time to respond but only to react. Knee jerk decision making can cost a small business owner everything.

So what does a small business owner do when they need help? Do they call their CPA? Their Attorney? Their Psychiatrist? Their best friend? Spouse? Neighbor?

The spouse is tired of hearing about it. The neighbor will quit answering the door. Your friend will avoid your calls. The CPA, Attorney and Psychiatrist not only cost a lot, it is not their job to study and listen to the many areas of an entrepreneur’s business and personal challenges.

This reminds me of a situation I was in about 30 years ago when I owned a growing business software company. I was struggling with many challenges all at once. There were customers that I could not satisfy. There was an employee who was trying to leave and take my customers. Vendors were changing prices of our software we implemented.

I went to my CPA/Friend/Golf buddy. He had the privilege of hearing me complaining about all these issues and his response was “Roberts, you don’t need a CPA, you need a damn shrink”. I never forgot that moment. It has impacted me for years. He was right, I needed someone to talk to that could help me understand and direct me to solving my problems effectively.

Back then the term Business Coach was not even heard of. Today, it is common place for entrepreneurs, executives, and even CEOs of major corporations to hire a coach to become their mentor and source for solving challenges that come up every day.

Who Hires a Coach?

Some of the most powerful executives of major corporations have hired coaches. Examples are Steve Jobs (Apple CEO), Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) and Bill Gates (Microsoft Founder).

Coaches can be hired by any one in a position of ownership or leadership. The coach can serve as a mentor in many areas of management, finance, staffing, marketing, corporate morale, process and day to day operations.

If you look at the subject of leadership, most entrepreneurs are bad at managing, hiring and staying focused beyond today. Simply put, they started a business with a skill or trade without considering the full realm of skills required to be successful.

The reason someone hires a coach is to look for fresh perspectives and ways to accomplish their goals. A coach does not do your job for you, but can serve as an impartial voice of reason and help you work out a plan and keep you on course to achieve your objectives.

If you hire a consultant, their job is to do the work for you and bill by the hour until the job is complete. One might note that generally, the job never gets completed because they have an objective to bill by the hour until you have had enough.

How does coaching work? Most engagements start with a review of all the facets of the entrepreneur’s life… Yes I said life. After all, the business becomes part of you. You cannot separate the two if you are like most.

A coach will help you change your perspective and habits that stops you from getting where and what you want in life. You will learn how to become self-aware, in control and forward thinking.

A coach will develop an honest evaluation that you have total input toward. The coach accomplishes this by asking probing questions to help you as the client to discover limiting factors that keep you from getting where you want.

You work together to develop a strategy, task and timelines that help accomplish a successful experience for both your business and personal life.

Below are actual examples of coaching clients:
• Someone who wanted to retire and needed help preparing an exit strategy
• A middle aged executive who had many years’ experience in his field but had never owned a business and did not anticipate the skills and commitment required as an entrepreneur
• A family business who needed help in transitioning ownership to a son
• A successful entrepreneur who was acquiring a competitor and needed help blending cultures
• A long time business owner who could not separate from his business long enough to take a vacation and needed to learn how to “compartmentalize” and improve performance

What does coaching cost?

It doesn’t! Bold statement you say. If you look at spending money on anything in business you have to look at it in terms of an investment.

Companies that have used professional coaching for business reasons have seen a median return on their investment of 7 times their initial investment, according to a study commissioned by ICF, and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Association Resource Centre Inc. (ICF Global Coaching Client Study)
A study commissioned by a professional services firm, and performed by MatrixGlobal showed that the ROI on coaching was 6.8x the initial investment. (The Business Impact of Leadership Coaching at a Professional Services Firm, Merrill C. Anderson, PhD)

A Manchester survey of 100 executives from Fortune 1000 companies found that the average ROI (return on investment) was 5.7 times the initial investment in a typical executive coaching assignment. The study found the benefits to companies that provided coaching to executives were improvements in:
• Productivity (reported by 53% of executives)
• Quality (48%)
• Organizational strength (48%)
• Customer service (39%)
• Reducing customer complaints (34%)
• Retaining executives who received coaching (32%)
• Cost reductions (23%)
• Bottom-line profitability (22%)
• Working relationships with direct reports (reported by 77% of executives)
• Working relationships with immediate supervisors (71%)
• Teamwork (67%)
• Working relationships with peers (63%)
• Job satisfaction (61%)
• Conflict reduction (52%)
• Organizational commitment (44%)
• Working relationships with clients (37%)

The commitment is straight forward and cost effective. Most engagements require a half day upfront and a one hour weekly or bi-weekly meeting (usually done over the phone). The average cost is $450 to $750 per month.

Anyone who has an open mind can benefit from hiring a coach. Look at a business coach like you would a personal trainer. You know how to do pushups and setups, but a trainer will help you do more than you would on your own.

The beauty of working with a coach, he or she has your best interest in mind. The coach not only helps you to see through the challenges but once you start making progress, he will celebrate the victories with you and be your cheerleader.

The right coach has walked in your shoes and has been an experienced and successful business owner. This experience transfers to the highest degree of value and effectiveness of the service provided.

A coach will empower you and help you grow and perform at a much higher level of performance.

A coach will help you identify your weaknesses and help turn those weaknesses into strengths.

The right business coach should be strong in the owner’s weaknesses and become a mentor, a friend, a coach, a cheerleader and someone to turn to when everything seems to be failing.

Hiring a business coach can been one of the greatest investments that a small-business owner can make.

Sometimes it is the difference between immense success and closing the business doors.

Working on YOU FIRST assures greater chance of your business success.

One of my favorite business books that I first read over 20 years ago is “The E Myth, Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it” by Michael Gerber.  In Gerber’s book, he  emphasizes the importance of routinely getting away and assess your business to get a clear picture.  It is hard to get a proper perspective and think clearly when you are walking the same halls or sitting in the same chair day in and day out.

Find a place to go that is away from phones, email and people taking your “band width”.  Get you a pad of paper or your laptop and start putting your thoughts down.

For years I have had a journal that I write in.  You will be amazed how many things that have accomplished when looking back over time.

Have you ever used your debit card or written a check to find there was not enough money to cover the purchase?  It was embarrassing wasn’t it?  Made you mad probably.  “How could I have forgotten to record that last check I wrote” or “Did my wife write a check and not tell me”?

Well, the problem is much more extensive in a business.  Keeping track of vendor bills, customer deposits and invoices and customer commitments is critical.

In business circles they refer to this information as Business Process and Systems.  Are you using your computer for no than more a word processor or an email device?

It does not cost near as much developing systems and processes as it does to see all your effort of building your business go down the tubes because you avoided this basic task.

Here is a challenge – while away from your desk (at home or quiet place) write down 10 issues that occurred this week that could have been avoided if you had the information to handle it.  It might have been a lost customer order, vendor expecting payment you did not know of or something as simple as a missing customer phone number or email address.

Use your computer as a tool.  Get the right software to manage your business.  In the end, you will be more efficient, productive and profitable.

I have personally helped 1,000’s of companies with evaluating process, systems and helping select the right one(s) for their business.

Contact me, Keith at coach@makenewrules.com

Over the last 35 plus years as an entrepreneur and business owner, I have seen so many organizations come and too many go because they fail to adapt.  To succeed, a manager or owner must always be looking outside the box and observe what the competition is doing and what the trends are among successful companies.  You do not have to be like everyone else, but it sure is a good idea to see what others are doing in the areas of marketing and branding practices.

About three years ago, I started service business.  When I decided to do this, I immediately looked at the competition and saw a lot of opportunities to excel where they were not.  To start with, I looked at how the business were establishing their identity (brand).  This included looking at their locations, reviewing their websites,  and their advertising methods and messages.  The first thing I noticed was most of their websites to be no better than what my seven old year grandson could do.  Their advertising was very traditional.  Advertising included thousand dollar a month ads in the phone book, expensive television and radio ads.

The first thing I did was setup a website with a creative URL (web address).  I did a lot of work with SEO (search engine optimization )so that we could easily be found on Google, Yahoo and Bing(among 100’s of other search sites).  Customer testimonials and quoting online I felt was important, so I added them as well.  Our rankings quickly shot up to number one and have stayed that way for four years now.

I knew that advertising was necessary for a start up, so I immediately attacked this task by committing to a ninety day blitz on TV, Radio and the phone books (just like our competition).   Note: We started the business in 2008 right about the time the economy started going bust.  Guess what happened .. my expenses where greater than my income for at least the first 6 months of business.  It just about sunk us!  To top everything else, the cheapest and most effective advertising was my website that I did my self for almost nothing.  The traditional advertising methods of TV, Radio and phone book proved to ineffective and expensive to boot.

The cell phone ah the cell phone.  I kept reading and hearing about how people are going to start using cell phones to find products and services.  Even the laptop or home computer is becoming less of a tool for managing day-to-day activities.  So, what I did next was to get a mobi URL (Mobile or smart phone compatible version of our website).  The project cost me a whole $10 to setup.  Guess what, it is now our number one source of hits on our website.  I gave the customers a scaled down, no frills bit of information like our phone number, map of our location and email address.  This is all they need to find us.  If they want more information, they simply go to our primary site on their home computer or laptop.

In summation, our business has grown 40% per year since I started my marketing through the web.  My advertising cost is approximately 1.5% of my gross profit.  How is that for growing on a dime?

If you want to learn more about how The Business Coach can help you, drop me an email at coach@makenewrules.com.