Archive for November, 2010
When owner managers want help in stepping up their business, one of the first questions I ask is, ‘Do you want a job or a business?’ I always pose this question as it gets you thinking about what you want from your business. You are then focussed on your destination and can effectively plan how to get there.
In considering whether you want a job or a business, you really need to think about the impact of your decision. Only you can decide how you want your work to fit into your life.
So do you want a job where you are self employed as the technician/specialist providing excellent service straight to the customer? Very often this is where we all start off. We have a great idea and the talent to deliver it and it feels great. We are getting directly rewarded for the work we do and have more control and flexibility in the number of hours we work and when we work them. We feel valued and highly motivated.
However, as your reputation grows and the customers keep coming, you struggle to cope and you start to lose the flexibility and control you went into business to achieve. You spend all your time working in your business and find it almost impossible to make time to work ON your business. Your talent becomes diluted as you try to manage everything and you start to be jack of all trades. Your motivation is affected and your inspiration begins to dwindle.
Before this happens consider this second scenario.
Building a business that can run without you. You still provide that excellent service but with the right people to help you. This doesn’t mean abdicating your responsibilities; it means you are able to play to your strengths. You get others to do what they do best, and that’s probably focusing them on areas you really don’t enjoy, would rather not do, and if you are really honest, that you’re not good at!
Surrounding yourself with the right people gives you back flexibility and control so the success of your business does not rely on you alone. You are then able to choose how many hours you work IN your business, ON your business or time AWAY from you business.
This post is taken from an interview I did recently, where I was asked how coaching works, who should use it and what my upcoming teleseminar will reveal.
Q. Denise, the term ‘Coach’ is often heard in sporting circles, but not as familiar in business, can you explain what it means in this context, how it works and why it’s important?
A. Coaching is all about growth and maximising potential and that’s what I help owner managers do for themselves and their business. As a business coach I ask lots of questions of my clients to raise their awareness of where they are now and where they want to be; we then work together to set achievable goals and set the stepping stones to get them there. It can be lonely being a business owner and working with a coach gives you someone you can work with in confidence, someone who will be supportive yet will hold you accountable to take the actions to which you commit.
Q. How did you become a business coach yourself, what qualifications do you need and what experience do you have?
A. I have over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources in management development and resourcing and became a chartered member of the CIPD for personnel professionals. During this time I worked with people to help make sure they were following a career path that fully utilised their strengths and maximised their potential for accomplishment, both for them and the company.
When I had a young family I started and ran a fashion clothes business and it was during this time that I made the decision to combine my business and HR experience to help others to run a successful business of their own. Qualifying as a coach was a natural step and I now run my own coaching business and love it!
Q. My business is successful do I need a coach or is it just for those who are struggling?
A. Business and personal performance coaching is right for any business owner who is ready to move their business forward. It’s true, some use a coach to get their business back on track, but many use it to establish what they want from their business and put the steps in place to achieve it faster that they would on their own.
Running your own business is one of the biggest challenges you will face and for many it can take over their life. Coaching works to help you establish a clear direction and gives you the confidence and drive to achieve your goals.
Q. You took coaching online with Step Up Your Business, can you explain how that benefits business people?
A. Many of my clients ask me to help them find time to step out of their business so they can step it up. The Step Up Your Business programme gives them the flexibility they need to do that at a price any business owner can afford. Each client works through the same programme that my VIP clients have progressed through, but instead of it being face to face, they work through the programme, via a secure online coaching platform, at any time that suits them, 24/7. The programme is interactive and they can store everything online so there is no extra filing or storing of paper. To ensure they are achieving the most they can from the platform and using it to its full potential, there is also a telephone 1 to 1 coaching session and group booster calls to keep them on track.
Q. And now you’re attempting to reach a wider audience with a free teleseminar, why should I listen?
A. During the teleseminar I will be clearly explaining 4 simple steps all business owners can take on to step up their business and create one that can run without them. I will also give details of the modular online programme for those that would like help in getting the focus and direction right for their business success.
Q. I assume you consider the teleseminar to be valuable to all that listen, why is it free?
A. With so much pressure on small businesses at the moment, the struggle to survive can often mean business owners cannot see passed the next week, let alone plan for the future, which is what they need to be doing. No one benefits when a business goes down and I truly believe coaching can help more owner managers to achieve their goals, the teleseminar is an opportunity for me to show them how, by giving away 4 simple steps that are truly powerful business success tips.
A teleseminar gives easy access for everyone, so it becomes a kind of business success forum. Owner managers will know they are not alone out there; they can ask questions and everyone gets the benefit of the answers. I also like the personal touch that a teleseminar allows, so people can get to know me and feel comfortable coming to me for further support if they need it.
Q. The teleseminar is based on you explaining the 4 simple steps to business success, what will you be revealing?
A. Well firstly I will be helping attendees answer the one key question that all owner managers need to know before they consider investing any of their time or money in stepping up their business. There’s a lot of shared experience out there and we’ve found many small business people make the same mistakes, but they can be easily overcome, so I will be revealing the big mistake that many small businesses make and showing how it is easy to fix, then explaining how to stop making costly mistakes and start making the right decisions for your business. Finally, we’ll get the focus back on moving your business forward by revealing how to reduce the overwhelm and frustration and make sure your great ideas don’t keep falling off the to-do list.
Q. So how do our readers listen to the seminar?
Just visit www.stepupyourbusiness.co.uk to register your interest and I will send you log on details allowing you to dial in on your phone or to join the call via the web where you will have access to a slide presentation during the teleseminar.
As a small business owner, it is almost inevitable that the values you hold personally will be those reflected in your business. Our values are often our drivers of which we are not consciously aware, but by spending some time to evaluate them, they provide us with a benchmark to decide whether a particular course of action is the right one, or wrong one.
Any decision and course of action you consider will either honour your values or neglect them. Having a list of these can be a great tool in making those difficult decisions and making sure they are the right decisions for you and your business.
As values define who you are, they will be your internal compass on how you do business, with whom you do business, and why people do business with you. By considering your values it will help you identify your personal and business brand and how this is reflected throughout your business and the way you market your products and services.
This exercise will get you to start ‘consciously’ thinking about the values by which you live your life and will help you gain clarity on those on which you will not compromise.
- Describe as many values as you can think of, that impact on the way you live your life and run your business. Start with a cluster of words if that makes it easier, placing the most significant term at the beginning eg Honesty/integrity/trust. Remember, values are abstract words and are standards, expectations, things that are important to you.
- It may help to think of really good moments in time to elicit some values that made you feel great. Conversely bad times will throw up values that weren’t present so think through what made you unhappy so you can work out what values were missing in the action you took, or in the situation that occurred.
- Once you have the list, have a go at ranking them against each other so you can give them some priority.
- Think which values are core to the way you do business and on which you will not compromise
Keep the list visible and refer to them when making those difficult decisions – they will help to bring clarity to the course of action that is right for you and your business.
In my last blog post, I stressed the need to be clear on where you are heading, your business vision. Once you are clear it is important that you communicate your vision with those who can help you make it happen, these people make up your team. They may be your employees; your outsourcing team, eg your accountant, marketing consultant; or your family and friends.
Many keep their vision a secret. Why? It could be a fear of failure or even a fear of success. Don’t be afraid to share your vision, once you start talking about it, you will inspire action from within and form others and it will start to happen. By the way, don’t waste your time and energy sharing your vision with those who cannot be positive, they will drain you of valuable energy and create doubt in your mind. Instead you need to create yourself a ‘Board of Directors’ that will support and inspire you and complement your strengths (see blog post of 1 Nov).
You will have ideas of specifically how you want to get there, but don’t forget the resource you have in your team, your board of directors and your staff. If you have selected them well, they will have skills, knowledge and natural talent that you may not. So use it.
To do this you must open up communication channels. The way you do this depends upon the size and culture of your company, and your leadership style. You need to invite feedback, listen and try what could work. This way your team will know their contribution matters and they will be more inspired to help you achieve your goals.
Be aware of your leadership style, it may not get the best from all your staff, and it is your responsibility as a leader to get the best from them. So you will need to flexible and individualise your approach for each team member to get them to open up and feel engaged so that you are creating an open environment enabling them to make their best contribution.
The coalition is pulling no punches that the next 5 years will be tough. Whether or not we agree with their vision or their strategy for getting there, they are taking action to get to where they want this country to be. As small business owners, to maintain our market position and set ourselves up for growth, we have to be clear on where we want our company to be and create a strategy to get there.
‘Start with the end in mind’, a well used quote from Stephen Covey….. and acted upon by the most successful of business leaders. If you don’t know your destination, how can you figure out the possible routes to get there? If you don’t know where you are heading, those around you certainly won’t have a clue!
Perhaps you may have a clear sense of direction and a passion for what you do but just can’t make the time to move your business forward. Or, you may be losing some of your inspiration as you are trying to be jack of all trades and are not doing what you enjoy most.
Start by thinking about why you went into business in the first place, what you wanted to achieve. What were your sources of motivation? Are they still the same? Enthusiasm is contagious and will help fire up the team you surround yourself with to help you achieve your vision.
This is now the time to get back on track and keep on track, to set yourself for success by planning the steps you need to take to achieve your business vision.
This was a question put to me by a successful owner manager at a networking event last week. This question is becoming increasingly common as profit margins for small business owners are getting squeezed with less scope for offering financial incentives.
Keeping your staff engaged without a financial incentive can be tough but if we all look to play to our strengths, I truly believe that the innate satisfaction from our work will go a long way to maintaining loyalty and achieving top performance from each individual.
Too many managers waste time and energy trying to get their staff to improve what is labelled as a weakness, rather than focusing their effort, energy and time on getting them to do more of what they do best – their strengths.
As a manager in both the private and public sector, I focused on getting my immediate team to do what they did best and I loved the challenge of persuading managers to draw up job roles with the staff to ensure that each team member also do what they did best. I would hear comments like, ‘well it is only fair that everyone has to do the same’. What is fair about getting someone to do a task they find a struggle when another team member loves it? If an individual is unhappy in their job they are not going to give their best performance which will inevitably undermines business performance.
Whatever job you are doing, if you are doing what you enjoy – you will want to do more of it because you know you are good at it and you get great results! Great results attract recognition and praise. The secret is to know what recognition your staff want – and it is not always financial. Recognition and praise builds confidence, feeds healthy egos and is a source of motivation as staff will know you value their contribution thus earning their loyalty in these challenging times.