What coaching can do for your small business
Is it time you considered using a business coach? These entrepreneurs explain how it helped their small businesses.
No matter how successful your small business may be, no owner has all the answers. But knowing when you need outside help – and who from – may be challenging for most. We spoke to four small business owners who enlisted the help of business coaches to give them a leg up.
The first step – take a step back
Small business owners often don’t spend enough time thinking about where their business is going, as opposed to the urgency of the day job, says Andy Mee, a ‘business doctor’ covering the Oxfordshire area. Entrepreneurs need to focus more time towards working on their business, rather than in it, he says.
Landscape architect, Anthony Stiff has been working for Mee for 18 months. During the recession, for maybe five years, we survived but it wasn’t the happiest time. We thought we’ve got to do something positive and grow the business, and this was a way we could do that,\” he said.
One lesson Stiff took away from working with Mee is to make time for what she calls the ‘golden hour’. So on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon you should spend an hour looking at your business and reviewing the week that’s just gone by and planning the week ahead she said, just being conscious of the goal that you might set yourself. It’s very easy to lose sight of that.
Build your confidence
Whether you have a team around you or not, running your own business can be lonely. Sometimes you may not have anyone that you can turn to for reassurance that you’re on the right path when your chips are down.
Nila Holden, who runs a luxury biscuit wholesaler, used a business coach for reassurance that she was doing the right things for her business. Holden received coaching by Jo Densley, founder of Relish Marketing. For several months Densley helped look at potential markets to launch into and what would be required to do so. I have my aspirations for the business; I think about the sorts of places where we should be selling and the partners we should be working with. But I never had the confidence to do those things, Holden said. She thought her ambitions were just pipe dreams, but having a mentor by her side telling her that her goals were actually realistic, gave her the confidence to take steps forward.
According to Mee, small business coach training helps owners realise the potential of where their business can go is a big part of consultancy. We try and make business owners see what the opportunities are for their business. You become pre-conditioned by what’s happened in the past, not what can happen in the future, he says.
Change your outlook
Like many small business owners, journalist Natasha Courtenay-Smith found herself running a small business unintentionally. Back in 2008 she launched an online press agency, ‘Talk to the Press’, where she sold exclusive news stories and real life features to national magazines and newspapers, maybe because my background wasn’t business, I didn’t massively grasp that I was running a business, she said.
She said the greatest benefit of working with mentor was helping her to change the way she thought about her company, it completely shifted how I looked at Talk to the Press, she says. It gave me the vocabulary and everything I needed to understand that it was an asset and it had value.
Understanding the value of her business quickly led Courtenay-Smith to think about the potentially for selling it, which she did. I don’t think actually in the process of working with my mentor we started packaging it up for sale, I did that myself. But it did give me all the vocabulary and the understanding I needed so that when I came to sale I knew how to make it look really compelling.