Tag Archives for " Business coaching "

Business Development Strategies

Business Development Strategy

Are you struggling to convert leads into prospects, and prospects into customers?

Have you depended on referrals & word of mouth as your only source of generating new business? It might seem like an easy way to win clients, but there are some major flaws to it too (as have been highlighted during this pandemic!).

In this week's episode of the Agency Accelerator Podcast, I talk about why relying on referrals & word of mouth as your major business development strategy can be a fatal mistake, and talk about some key proactive marketing & business development strategies you should always be focusing on.

[1:58] The two major flaws about relying on just referrals or word of mouth

[3:19] Understanding Your Target Niche

[3:54] Identifying your Ideal Target Customers

[4:19] Marketing advice to agency owners

[6:32] Moving your audience through 3 stages of getting to know, like and trust you to buy from you

[7:39} Recognising that the Sales Cycle rarely very short

[8:27] Creating Value-Added Content

[9:35] Taking a Value Selling Approach

[10:11] Converting Leads to Customers

[11:51] An idea for a re-engagement campaign with past clients to generate some immediate business

[13:13] Using LinkedIn as an outreach platform

[14:39] Interviewing Dan Englander in the next week's podcast

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Why you should use a business coach – in a customer’s own words

business coach

One of my long standing clients, Takka Productions, recently wrote a blog about why they use a business coach.  I couldn’t have said it better myself, so (with their permission) I am republishing their blog here.

If you run a small business and are thinking of hiring a business coach – I say do it. Leaving a coaching session a couple of days ago I decided I would share some thoughts on the issue – just in case hiring a coach is something you are considering.

My fellow Director and I set up our business six years ago. After about three years we realised we needed to focus on how we wanted the business to grow. We had been lucky to be busy up until then but were very much reacting rather than driving the business in a particular direction. What I did know is that we weren’t the first small business owners to be in that situation and we needed to tap into the experiences of others.

Further encouraged by our accountant, we hired a business coach who we have been seeing every couple of months, for two hours, ever since. Sessions are planned two months in advance and never cancelled, no matter how busy we are. I can honestly say that I have left every session feeling more positive and confident than when I arrived. This is what drives me to keep turning up.

It’s a time away from the office and a chance to step away from the particular projects that are currently filling up our brains. It’s a time to think about working on the business rather than just in it.

We benefit from the coach’s knowledge and experience gained from years running his own business and working with many other businesses as a coach. The sessions make us really think about what sort of business we want – what does it look like? What type of projects, customers, employees, partners? We then look at the steps we need to take to get there. Importantly, I never feel judge if it’s taking months and months to achieve a particular step. We look at it again and again….and get there in the end.

The coaching sessions also provide a confidential space to discuss business issues and gain another perspective. We get to let off a bit of steam but also to look at what we’ve learned in any given situation. 

If you are hiring a coach, find one that understands your business and is aligned with your values. We strive to run a business that reflects our personal ethics. We have turned down the opportunity to work with companies that have very different views to our own on how to treat people and the planet. We are financially poorer for it but can sleep better at night. It’s essential that your coach understands what drives you.

Our coach has introduced us to other small businesses within our area with whom we could have a beneficial partnership. Networking without the networking event. Hurrah.

He also reminds us that there is more to life than business and that we need to look after ourselves. On that note, I’m off to enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend. 

Further details about our coach can be found here: Da Costa Coaching

Please visit Takka Productions website to learn more about the great web and app development work they do.

A coach or a non-exec director?

Non exec director or coach?

In my last blog post, I discussed 5 key benefits of having a non-exec director. In this 3rd instalment I wanted to outline the difference between a coach and a non-exec director (NED) since t’s a question I am frequently asked and it’s often a natural progression for a valued business coach to get more deeply involved in a business and then join the management team/board as a non-exec.

Coaching – short sharp interventions
It amazes me when I hear stories of coaches working for a business for 10s of years.  Coaching shouldn’t be about creating this kind of dependency but instead working with a business on a specific project for a specific period of time.

Coaches are often brought in to focus on one area of the business or one project (e.g. staff retention or helping implement structure).  They help the business see in an objective way and bring tools/templates and techniques to move the business forward and get the management team/leaders thinking in a slightly different way.  They bring experience and expertise that the current leadership will not have and they also bring focus to the important areas of the business, in order to help it grow. The coach will be typically paid on an hourly or day rate, or an agreed fee to deliver a specific piece of work.

The non-exec – taking a more holistic approach
OK I hate the word ‘holistic’ too but in this context, it is the right word to use since the NED will work regularly with a client, sitting along side the management team/board and taking the same high-level view of the entire business.  The difference is, they bring experience and knowledge that the management team may not have, and having worked for other businesses who are in a similar point in their evolution, they help their clients avoid the pitfalls and mistakes others may have made.

The NED offers the input of an expensive director, at a fraction of the cost.  The NED will be paid on a part-time contract at an agreed fee.

Should I hire a coach or NED?
In short yes.  I believe every business, especially SMEs, needs this external expertise and input to create accountability and growth. What route is right for you depends on your need but a coach or NED will pay for themselves multiple times over, if they are efficient and deliver the growth that you will discuss in your early meetings, so really it’s a no brainer!

I hope you are finding these emails useful/enlightening.  One final instalment to come.

Hitting a brick wall

Brick wall

Every business (and individual in that business) hits a ‘brick wall’ at some point and in order to get over or break through the wall the business (and individual) needs to do something different – but often working out what this is can feel nigh on impossible and therefore many business remain at the brick wall, hitting their heads against it and not surprisingly, feeling the pain.

That is often the point my phone rings and I begin working with a client.  Here are 4 areas to consider to help get you through the brick wall (or avoid it in the first place):

1. Have a vision

The problem about a brick wall is you can’t see over it and therefore what is in the distance.  This is the first issue that needs resolving.  You need a clear vision for your business that excites and motivates you.  Business owners often hit this brick wall because they have lost motiviation and lost sight of why they started the business in the first place because the day to day activities have de focused them.

2. Build the foundations

I know it’s cliched but if you try and build a bigger house without the supporting foundations, it is going to fall down.  The same is true with business.  It is one of the major reasons businesses feel like they are taking one step forward and one back.  Creating a scaleable business makes it easier to grow and avoid that brick wall altogether.

3. Hire the right people

Your staff need to align with your business and buy into the vision.  They both need to be technically competent to do the job and culturally match the values of the business.  They need to be as excited about delivering the vision as you are.  Then you need to delegate as much as possible, leaving you to working on the bigger picture strategic activities of your business.

4. Revisit, review and revise your vision

A mistake many organisations make is to create a vision, cast it in stone and one year later use it to beat everyone up with for failing to deliver it!  A vision (and business strategy) needs to be a living document that is frequently reviewed (to identify next focus area) and refined (based on current knowledge and circumstances).

These are 4 of a number of steps I would recommend following to enable you to break down, climb over or even build a door, so that you can painlessly get through the brick wall and move to the next stage of your organisation’s evolution.  Want to know more? Then please get in touch.  You can also download my whitepaper on building a scalable business here.

Everyone needs a coach

Business Coaching Brighton

When I first started training as a coach, I talked to prospects about how behind every great sports person is a coach (or 2) – to highlight the point that you don’t just need external help when you business is struggling indeed, a coach should help your business flourish.  The same message is true 10 years later, although the market place is starting to come around to the idea.

What is coaching all about?  Well simply put, it’s about helping your business (and people) grow in the most pain free way.  Of course the style of coaching you receive very much depends on the coach you select (and the areas to focus on).  Some coaching programmes and coaches are very process driven (the process could be the selling point) whilst my style of coaching is very much more flexible, listening to the clients needs, identifing the priorities and building the approach accordingly using many tried and tested templates and processes.

I often think that if some of my great coaching teachers were to observe me during a coaching session they would tell me I am not a coach.  This is because I strongly believe that different companies and people need different things at different times.  So I need to be a bit of a chameleon:

  • A coach  – when decisions need to be made or longer term plans need to be developed
  • A mentor – when sharing experience and wisdom (and bear in mind my niche is the service based sector – where i have ‘been there and done it’ having started, grew and sold my own agency)
  • A facilitator – to get team working together and drive discussions forward
  • A consultant – to help develop and review documents, plans and programmes
  • A listening ear – after all ‘it can be lonely at the top’ and every leader needs that devil’s advocate perspective who isn’t scared to question decisions to ensure they are the best decisions

Bill Gates agrees with my sentiment.  Have a watch of his TedTalk on this very topic.  It talks about giving the client perspective and helping them see themselves as other do.

In the UK there is a big push to help the SME sector grow and the Government sees coaching and leadership & management training as the key to achieving this.  Consequently there is now Government Funding available to support a business (in some cases subsidising the coaching by 2/3rds) in hiring a coach.  It makes the idea a no brainer.

Please get in touch to discuss how a funded coaching programme could help your business grow.

The 5-minute mentor

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.