Aha Factor Blog

Business today – why a coach can’t help you!

My primary role as a Business Coach is to business owners grow their businesses and make more profits at the same time.

Increasingly I find many small business owners in Auckland have been experiencing a downturn in their turnover which has put the business and its owner/s under more pressure than they would like.

As a result, many see a Coach as an unnecessary additional expense and are reluctant to go beyond an initial exploratory chat. It could also be something to do with the fact that many ‘business coaches’ are more interested in charging fat fees for very little in return which has given the coaching industry somewhat of an inglorious reputation.

So back to my headline.

There are two parts to this story:

§  The business owner is suffering from fear based on his reduced turnover and negative publicity around the gloom and doom he/she reads and hears every day. He/she is literally ‘frozen’ or stuck and is no longer open to working out how he /she can resolve these very real issues.

§  The Business Coaching ‘industry’ is not well regarded by many business owners, either as a result of direct experience or by word of mouth.

Let’s explore a little more:

An email from Bizzone today reveals that business owners’ biggest challenges right now are Cash flow, Sales and Marketing and Business Planning.  This survey was done in conjunction with the National Bank.

Another email, this time from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce [www.aucklandchamber.co.nz], tells us about their recent survey which reveals businesses expecting a ‘long flat slowdown’ and looking forward 6 months nearly half of the respondents feel that the situation will stay the same or improve. There’s a lot more of course and I quote “….the mood among many Auckland businesses continues to be positive and reflect a strong self – belief that getting on with ‘doing the business’ continues to be rewarded with results.”

Before I continue I highly recommend joining the Chamber of Commerce and to subscribe to organisations such as Bizzone. They are very good sources of information and resources available to help business grow.

And like a good coach they help give you the business owner an outside perspective as to what is going on in the market place.

So what to do?

It is no surprise to me that the Bizzone/National Bank survey has identified these three ‘interrelated’ issues as being of concern to businesses.

§  With a drop in turn over I’m sure cash flows would be affected.

§  This puts the spotlight on Sales and Marketing

§  Which lights the blowtorch under Business Planning

A consistent theme throughout my discussions with business owners has been: Lack of a Business Plan, very little or no knowledge of what a K.P.I. {Key Performance Indicator} is or how to establish them, and Sales and Marketing are left to poorly written Yellow Pages ads and word of mouth. To be fair, word of mouth can be very powerful.

With regard to KPI’s many owners will tell me ‘my accountant has all that information’, there is no real commitment apart from annual returns to get a handle on what’s going on in the business!

My last Boss in the Corporate world was a hard bastard [bless him]. His mantra was ‘you cannot manage what you can’t measure’. We reported to our KPI’s monthly, there were daily sales summaries; the KPI’s were constantly under review as were our costs and so on. We could look at historical comparative sales graphs and know why certain periods were up or down. In short, management had an accurate snapshot of where the business was all of the time.

To be fair to most small business owners, they don’t have the resources to monitor their businesses the way a larger entity can, but they sure can put measures and systems in place to help themselves make better decisions.

Business Plans seem to be in short supply. Or if there is one it’s been gathering dust somewhere on a shelf. A business plan ought to be considered a dynamic instrument and be reviewed regularly.

These are the issues many small business owners do not do anything about. They are not costly to implement. An hour or two with a Business Coach can pay off handsomely in the long run.

Our mantra [among many] is that often small changes can have a significant effect on your business.

I encourage you as a business owner to contact me for an obligation free discussion about your business.

I may be able to point the way, but as always – you have to do the work!

P.S. If I cannot help you I will endeavour to find someone who can!

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