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Posts Tagged ‘Business Coaching’

Being Rated The Best

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A client called today very excited about being named one of the “Best” in his industry based on a survey of his state’s residents. “I don’t believe it.” “Certainly there are bigger and better providers.” I could see he was going to be a tough one to let this news sink in. We spent a few minutes dissecting what would prompt his customers to vote him as “the Best” and the answer became clear to him: “It’s because I care and they know it.”

He realized that his passion for his life’s work shows; he realized that taking the extra client calls, listening to someone’s personal story, and giving advice when he can all add up to being rated “the Best”. Before you wonder if he has no free time and no boundaries around work, let me tell you that he has more free time than ever, loves his work, and pursues his personal interests. He’s able to do that because he got crystal clear on who his ideal clients are and the value that he brings to them. He now thoroughly enjoys his clients, which makes it so easy for him to give that extra level of service. By now I hope you are intrigued and wondering “What would I need to do to be rated the best?

  1. Understand who your ideal clients are; find a way to let the others go.
  2. Know your value. If you’re unclear, find the juncture between what comes most easily to you, what you could do all day, and what your customers most recognize you for.
  3. Be willing to ask, and listen to, your clients for feedback. They can’t tell you they think you’re the best if you don’t ask. Be open to both positive and negative and learn.

My client is “the Best” for many of his clients; for his openness and willingness to change, he’s the best in my book, too.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Being Ready for Business Coaching

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When business owners talk about the possibility business coaching, I often hear “As soon as I get organized…” or, “As soon as I know what my goals are….” That always strikes me as someone saying “As soon as I’m ready, I’ll have a baby.” Is anyone ever really ready?

Both situations are about significant change. Although we may think we know what those changes are and how they will affect us, we never really know until we’re in the thick of it. Additionally, there is an infinite list of possible steps you could take to “get ready”; in business, you could decide as soon as your desk is organized, your office is settled, or you know what your five-year goal is, then you will begin coaching or a mentoring program.

On the personal side of things, as soon as the room is painted, your older child is sleeping through the night, or you have a new job, then you’ll be ready. These are all fictitious lines in the sand drawn by you. What you most likely mean is “I want to be in control and taking a step towards unknown change scares me and makes me recognize that I will not be (and never will be) in control.”

Phew. Unknown change. What do you really need to take a step towards unfamiliar territory? It’s not a business plan or a vision statement. It’s an open mind; curiosity. A willingness to look at the possibilities. Entering a coaching relationship is not about knowing the answers ahead of time. It’s about choosing to take a first step, even when you don’t know what the second step will be or where you’ll end up. If you have children, chances are that feels familiar.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

What a Business Coach Can Do for the Small Business Owner

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I remember the first time I realized that being a small business owner could also be called ALONE. I was working at my desk and got stuck on a strategy. I pushed my chair back and looked around for someone to bounce ideas around with; all I saw were my two dogs. I had me, myself and two canines to figure my challenge out.

If you’re like many small business owners you have little high-level support. That’s where a small business coach comes into the picture; working together, a small business owner and a coach brainstorm, work through and question strategy and implementation plans, and create accountability for action steps. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Brainstorming. I don’t know about you, but my best ideas usually come from my creative time, when I can toss ideas around without worrying about the outcome. Too often we get wedded to one path, often the first one we come across. In a larger organization, a CEO will often have key executives with whom they flush out strategies, resolve issues. Who does a small business owner have? Often, no one (or like me, my dogs). One client used to call me his “Virtual COO” – a strong number two person at a cost affordable to a small business.

2. Working alone, or even with a small staff, it is easy to generate a myopic view. A coach will ask probing questions, look at alternate strategies with you, wonder why you do certain things – often those activities we most take for granted. The value of an outsider looking in at your business is that they hold fewer preconceived notions about accepted ways of doing business.

3. Create accountability. All too often, I hear small business owners say, “I have a to-do list, but I never get to it all. What they probably mean is, “I did the easy tasks; I didn’t do the hard stuff.”  Working with a coach creates accountability; a client typically agrees to take certain actions. If the actions are not completed, a coach will ask what prevented completion and together they will work to resolve those obstacles.

Athletes hire coaches to bring them to their best. Doesn’t your business, and possibly your livelihood, deserve the same? A small business coach may be just the ticket.

Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Asking for Help

After a long fight, Ireland cried “Uncle” this past Sunday and agreed to request financial assistance from the European Union. The country has been struggling since 2006 but has pushed aside those who suggested they needed help. I can’t help but wonder “Why?”

Asking for help can be hard for many of us for a variety of reasons. We worry that people won’t think we’re smart enough, or that we don’t have enough money. As business owners we worry that customers, clients, vendors or colleagues will think we’re failing, that we don’t have the right connections, or that we’re just plain not good enough. We think it’s better to struggle and do it on our own than to ask for help. Says who? Who are these infamous “people” who think these things about us? I asked a client recently this question and actually had him make a list of “these people”. Come to find out, he didn’t give two hoots about their opinions once he got clear about who they were.

Asking for help takes guts; you have to be strong enough, confident enough, to ask. And there’s the rub: asking for help comes from your strength as well as creates more of it. Think of someone you know who, in a healthy way, easily asks for help. Do you see them as confident? Successful business owners know that they can’t possibly create the best, and only, solution to a problem. If you have staff, asking your team for help empowers them and makes your business stronger. Thinking about Ireland’s challenges, imagine what might have happened if they asked for help sooner? The same can be said for business challenges and the consequences of asking, or not asking, for help.

Asking for help takes practice and it can be an acquired taste. In my own personal and business experience, though, it’s a taste worth acquiring.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.