What do Top Athletes and Top Business People Have in Common?
When you were an embryonic-entrepreneur lying in bed at night, dreaming about your own business, how it would work and what it would give you (freedom, time with your family, financial gain), did you see yourself where you are today? Have you achieved your dreams?
The athletes who have achieved their dreams and successfully qualified for the 2012 Olympics have been training hard for a lifetime. They have the best gear, the best nutrition and the best coaches to reach the top of their game. OK, so you're not a pro sports person but you do want to be the best businesses person you can be don't you? And you want your business to be as successful as you can make it, right?
So who helps you see what's working and why (so you know how to do more of it) and what's not (so you can stop wasting money and change tack)? Who holds up a mirror to your business to help you see things objectively?
The 3 elements of a good business are: technical skill/what people pay for; the financials; the sales and marketing.
Most people excel in one area - if you're an accountant starting your own company, financials will be your strong point but you're probably be weaker in other areas; if you're a sales/marketing person, selling yourself will be easy and if you have a skill to sell then that will be your strong suit but numbers and marketing might be a mystery.
When these 3 essential aspects overlap that it the point at which a business becomes successful. The bigger the overlap the more successful the business could be.
It looks like this:
The bit in the middle is where everything comes together and profits are maximised. There's more to it than that - you need systems and processes that make things work efficiently and give you the time you were dreaming about, but these 3 elements are a good place to start.
You can go to evening classes or take college courses to learn what you don't know, but that takes up precious time. So, rather than taking time out and learning school-room examples, what if someone could come and work with you, help you sharpen your skills so that you're in control of your business? Someone who would tailor their help to meet your needs and focus on what's important to you so that you could shape the business you dreamed about?
What is a business coach?
Business coaches are business professionals with great business knowledge and experience that they want to share. Of course that makes everyone a business coach but there are reputable firms that employ, train and certify their coaches so that they really know what they're talking about and can show you proven business strategies.
Your coach isn't there to judge, fix or tell you what to do. S/he's there to help you find the right answers for your business - what would you rather tell people: 'I did that' or 'He did that for me'? A coach's aim is to make you self-sufficient (in a 'teach-a-man-to-fish' sort of way) so that the next time you hit a similar problem you know what to do because you learned the first time.
It can be lonely at the head of an organisation. In helping you to make better decisions than you might have made alone, the coach is there to support you, congratulate your successes, help you learn from the situations that don't go according to plan and to hold you accountable for the actions you say you're going to take.
S/he's not emotionally involved so as an outsider can often see what you can't because you're so close.
Who needs a coach?
- The short answer is 'anyone who wants their business to be a success'.
- Some entrepreneurs are financially successful but at the cost of the time they don't get to spend with their families or on their personal lives. Alternatively they have plenty of time but no profit. Business coaching helps you get the best of both - or lets you choose what you want to do.
- If you're an old hand at the business game and what to sell up and retire, your coach will help you boost the value of your business so that you can get the best price - and move away from it emotionally so that it's not so hard to sell.
- If you've lost your way or lost your passion for your business and every day is a grind, a coach will help.
- If you run the business (or the business runs you) and you think it could do better, then coaching is for you.
A few questions to ask your potential coach.
- What’s your business background and experience?
- What’s your coaching organisations history?
- What are your fees and terms?
- What will you do for me and my company?
- What size of companies do you work with?
- Show me some examples of the results you’ve got/testimonials.
What will a coach do?
- Each firm and each coach works a little differently. So if you like the concept you might want to talk to a few before you find someone you click with - a bit like hiring a new employee.
- But a good coach will start by spending time listening to you, what you want to achieve both in the business and in your life.
- Then you'll sit together to make a plan or a map to achieve that success so that you hit short, medium and long term goals. You’ll be shown how systems and processes can be improved to make things run smoothly, you’ll brain-storm ideas to breathe in new life and get you ahead of the competition and you’ll learn confidence around the business essentials (see above) you’re weaker on.
- The coach will visit with you regularly to help keep you motivated and see what actions you've said you'll take to achieve your goals.
What's the difference between a coach and a consultant?
Finds the problems
Gives you the answers
Works with you to solve the problems
Works with your competitors
It sounds like hard work.
It is. On top of all the other stuff you have to do every day, lifting your nose from the grindstone to think about new ways of doing things takes a lot of energy. You'll use resources you didn't know you had and you'll find it satisfying and fun because you'll see results.
Top business people like Buffett, Branson and Sugar have all had mentors, coaches and helpers - they didn't do it on their own so there's not shame in asking for help. Coaching is an investment of time and money but will reap rich rewards if you want it enough.
Tom Peters on taking action
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