So often we find that a business or a nonprofit organization has wandered into an area which might not be consistent with their Mission. They are spending time and energy addressing some idea that diverts them from the important issues which need to be addressed. Let me remind you that our business name is RLS Focused Solutions. One of the roles of a business coach is to remind the client not to lose their focus.
Let’s consider an example. I once had the opportunity to talk to a very bright entrepreneur who was starting a business from scratch. When we discussed his focused activities, he told me about staffing and his need to select a CRM (customer relations management system). For all of us who have started business, we know that the first priority is to focus on finding customers. Without customers there is no business. Your first CRM system maybe a notepad or a spread sheet. If you want to visualize your initial staff, look in the mirror. Let’s not minimize the importance of systems, people, or having the right equipment, but don’t lose the focus necessary to find customers.
Consider this second example. As a business owner or manager, you can expect visits or emails from dozens of sales people who want you to advertise in publications or media programming. All the proposals they make are very attractive. The magazines are beautiful. It very reinforcing to see your company promoted on TV or radio. The focus here needs to be on the availability of resources and the priority allocation of those resources. As a startup, that allocation might be your personal time to meet people one-on-one. As you grow, internet marketing might be the answer. There is no magic solution to business growth and profitability. If someone can convince you that there is, be careful. You run the risk of losing a lot of money.
What Should You Expect from a Coach?
Help you build a business plan.
It needs to be your plan, not the coach’s. You don’t need someone who has all the answers. You do want someone who asks you the questions you might be afraid to ask yourself. The coach may not be an expert in your business. If fact, one would argue that the way that business experts build their business might not easily be copied into your planning. As you build you plan, apply those ideas and principles with which you have comfort. Remember you need to execute the plan.
There are many who will propose a standard business plan or what is called a strategic plan. In many cases that is true, but there are exceptions to that approach. With smaller firms or in a startup phase, the focus needs to be on sales and marketing. There may be little value in long-term planning if there are no customers or business. Once the business is “off the ground”, longer range becomes important. Those longer term areas may include team building, management, and process scaling.
Help you execute the plan.
Many consultants and advisers are available to help someone write a business plan, but the important part is the execution of that plan. Our experience has been that a plan developed for a coming year will often require changes and modification over the course of the year. Mike Tyson is quoted that when you step in the ring with a fight plan, changes will be necessary when you opponent repells your first punch. So it is in business. New competitors join the market. The customers’ needs change. Staff may come and go. We live in an ever changing world.
Be sure your coach will stay with you for at least the first year. They should help you identify and overcome obstacles. They will keep you focused. The natural tendency, when a plan is not working, is to give up on the planning process. The coach will encourage you to not give up on the process but to modify it and continue to work toward success.
Be your accountability partner
The tendency in busy people is too often allow their day-in and day-out activities to take a priority over their longer term planning. Your coach needs to meet with you on a regular basis and review progress. We often fine that our client partners complete portions of their plan a few days before those regular meetings. As an accountability partner our goal is Partnering for Success.