I have found in business that when we keep things simple; using plain English, clients can better understand how to apply the ideas to their business.
I was with a client last week who had been asked to write a business plan by their bank. When I asked the client why they have to do this they couldn’t tell me but showed me a complex template they needed to complete that clearly wasn’t going to be useful for them in the longer term in business but was just a ‘tick box’ exercise for the bank. On a score of 1 to 10, how useful is this? 1?
As opposed to sounding smart by using MBA language that no one understands, sometimes by going back to basics we get a wider understanding and buy in.
Let’s use an example: Business Strategy
I googled this and Wikipedia’s definition is ‘Business strategy is a field that deals with the major intended and emergent initiatives taken by general managers on behalf of owners, involving utilization of resources, to enhance the performance of firms in their external environments’
Wow I am already confused! Does that motivate me to want to go further? No. Imagine, as a business coach, if I used that type of language with a client? I might sound smart but I wouldn’t last long!
When I explain what Business Strategy is to a client I simply explain it as ‘everything that you do in your business that helps you earn money in the future’ (or Revenue is ‘money today’ and Strategy is ‘money tomorrow’). Now does that make more sense?
These simple and clear definitions help clients understand what strategy means and therefore how they should spend their time when doing ‘strategy work’. It becomes much easier for a client to list the type of activities that falls within this category and allocate sufficient time to do them – rather than shy away from business strategy because it sounds too complicated.
The moral of this story is that if we keep our language simple in business, we create better understanding, a common language and a focused, aligned and motivated workforce. So do you apply this when developing your marketing messages and all other external communications? Let me know what you think and don’t forget you can download a range of useful whitepapers by clicking here
Whilst I have written a whitepaper on this topic, I thought it was worth revisiting because it crops up time and again for me. I was with a prospect on Friday and we were discussing his goals for using a business coach; we defined 3 clear outcomes. I explained how I was going to help him achieve these desired outcomes and how I estimated it would take 7 x 3 hour coaching sessions for a fee of £x. He was definitely interested but struggled to get his head around the fact that another coach (he was seeing 3) had already quoted 7 days to do the same work for a similar fee.
When faced with this kind of objection, I need to get the client to focus on the value at the end of the project and not the time it takes. I often tell this dentist story:
It’s about a woman who had her wisdom teeth removed. When she received the bill, she was shocked at the cost; over £300 per tooth. When she returned for the follow-up visit the next week, she mentioned the bill to the dentist. “It seems like a lot of money,” she exclaimed. “Why it only took you about 15 minutes per tooth.” The dentist smiled and said, “That is exactly what you are paying for. If you want me to take an hour or more to remove each tooth, I can do that. In fact, most anyone can do that. But there is value in a 15-minute extraction.
I explained to my prospect that I believed I could deliver what he was looking for in 7 x 3 hour coaching sessions – this means we are achieving his outcome much more rapidly, being less intrusive on his ‘day job’ and helping him drive his business forward more quickly. I think at this point the light bulb went on and he started to assess things not in terms of time but more in terms of how pain-free the process would be and how quickly we can achieve the results he is looking for.
So does your business sell on time or on the outcomes and value it provides? I would be interested to hear your experiences, so please leave a comment or get in touch.
If you are reading this blog post then you will see that today I launched my new website together with a new updated logo. It’s been a while coming and at last I will be able to use my site as an example when I am coaching a client around marketing!
I am a firm believer that a website should be about building credibility and trust with your stakeholders so it’s important to show the reader you understand their challenges and their market (rather than making the site just about you). I hope I have achieved this. It’s also about adding value – that’s how you make your readers stay and return to your site. So I have a series of whitepapers that readers can download and since I will be adding new ones every month, I hope you will return to check them out in the future.
I wanted to say a big thank you to Southerly Communications and particularly Anna, who have gone the extra mile to help me get the site just as I imagined it. They also convinced me to update my logo so today I am also launching that. It’s a simplified version of my previous ‘maze’ logo but still gets the message across of ‘helping business grow’.
Love to know what you think so please get in touch.
I’m excited to announce a new collaboration with the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce. I will be writing a monthly blog post as their resident business mentor, entitled The 5-minute mentor. Here is the first post:
The 5-minute mentor
Welcome to the first in a series of monthly blog posts entitled “The 5 minute mentor’. My hope is if you spend 5 minutes reading these posts you will learn something useful that you can apply to your business.
My background is in the creative service based sector (having run my own marketing and design agency for 11 years). Since selling my business in 2003, I have been supporting businesses for the past 9 years and I suppose you could call me a business coach. However, I have learned that businesses need different types of support at different times. For example, when making big business decisions, a coaching or questioning style is the best approach yet that style can also be frustrating when working on more pragmatic areas of a business (such as helping define structures) because it can move the business forward more slowly. In this case a mentoring approach is the best style to use. Here you can be a little more directive and share some of your experience, especially when you have done similar kinds of work with other clients. If the remit is to help a team to work more effectively together and be more aligned, then a facilitated approach works best.
Whilst many would call me a business coach, I am in fact all of the above. So rather than tell people I am a business coach, I just say, “I help your business grow”.
These blog posts are going to be short sharp words of advice based on my experience of supporting many different types of business over the past 8 years and also my 11 years of starting, growing and selling my own business. I am going to discuss everything from creating a business vision, defining your company values to writing roles & responsibilities and running appraisals.
Next month we are going to discuss the real value of getting some external support and also look at how long a company should engage with a coach for. Want to find out more before then? Then get in touch.
As a coach who does a lot of work with clients on their market position, content development and marketing, I look at a lot of websites. This is how the typical site looks: