Small business coaching: winning in a down economy
Before I did small business coaching, I was involved in several small businesses in the booming 90’s. Those days are far behind us and we have had a sideways skidding, flat (or worse) economy since then.
What’s a small business owner supposed to do?
Time to up your game with a small business coach?
At times like these, many business owners are keeping a very tight rein on their expenses, trying hard to maintain their profit margins and survive. Getting some small business coaching might seem like an expense that can be done without. But is it?
What the smartest small business owners know about coaching
If you’ve never worked with a small business coach before, it can be hard to imagine how helpful it is. I have many testimonials from clients who really weren’t sure about it, but talked to me, decided to try a month or two, and then realized the incredible benefits. Like most things in life, you have to experience it to understand. A good coach will never lock you into a long term contract, so you really have nothing to lose by trying it out.
The smartest entrepreneurs are the ones who hire employees who are smarter or more knowledgeable or talented than they are in a particular area. They have enough self-confidence that they don’t feel threatened by people with brains that fire on all cylinders and who enjoy helping to make the business operate faster, better and cheaper.
These business owners know that the value of another perspective can be absolutely invaluable. Since I have been coaching over the past 12 years, I can truthfully say I have given my clients ideas worth tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s not that a business coach always knows the best thing to do or has the right answers, because obviously that’s not true. But my experience is that the entrepreneur who struggles the most is the one who has only him- or herself as an adviser because he or she is either overconfident or is afraid to look bad to someone else.
As a small business coach, one of my goals is to always help my clients gain more confidence. And of course, all conversations are 100% confidential, so business coaching clients can feel comfortable that they can let their hair down with their coach and it never goes any further than the two of them.
The master skill: communication
One of the things a coach can help you a great deal with is communication. Communication is one of the most important things that makes the wheels of business go round, after all. The area where I see the most difficulty with communication is with employees. Becoming an effective and respected manager and boss does not happen easily or automatically, as almost every business owner has learned. People are complex, they are governed by emotions, and very often their lives have some (or a lot) of drama going on. Small business coaching can provide valuable guidance as an entrepreneur navigates the way forward in their business, dealing successfully with employee issues or compassionately terminate when necessary.
Communicating successfully through conflicts
We all know that disagreements and conflicts are a part of life and recur on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they are easily resolved, but other times the issues are more serious. Most people have had inadequate training in effective communication, especially how to deal well with conflict. Most people actually avoid conflict. I’ve coached so many entrepreneurs who avoided firing an employee for this reason. When they finally did it, months or years later, they couldn’t believe how relieved they and the rest of their employees were!
Small business coaching will give you thehands-onn tools and even the wording, when needed, to help you successfully resolve conflicts, whether with employees, partners, vendors or customers.
Coaching small businesses in sales and marketing
A lot of small business owners struggle simply to keep up with the daily overwhelm of running their business. They never craft a powerful sales strategy that maps out the channels, the message and the market that will give them the best return on investment for their sales and marketing budget.
While never getting to the “important, not urgent” areas of your business — like a clear sales and marketing strategy — is incredibly common, those who are able to put some focus there usually see powerful benefits that put them far ahead of their competitors. A small business coach will be able to help you create the time as well as create the strategy, test it and hone it.
A good strategy will include a focus on further developing your number one source of business: your current customers. Almost no business can survive, let along succeed, on one-off sales. It’s the returning customers and clients, the raving fans, who build your business.
Most business owners know this intellectually, but don’t really give as much thought or attention to how to market better to their customer base. A good small business coach will definitely help you with this by making sure you are using the right marketing channels, with the right frequency and the most effective messages for your existing customers.
Questions about branding, social media, your website, your newsletter? A good small business coach will help you work your way through these very common — and important! — questions.
It’s almost common knowledge that a business needs a sales funnel to maximize their business success. But in fact, few business owners set up a sales funnel by thorough research, analysis and testing. The results can be profound. You need what Ryan Deiss calls a lead magnet to help you gather contact info on qualified prospects for your business. This could be a video, a discount, software, a cheat sheet, an assessment, a tool kit, or other things. It gives a specific piece of highly desirable value to them, that they can immediately use. A coach can help you figure out what your lead magnet could be and how to implement it. A sales coach will also help you set up the follow-on elements to your core offer, and a return path, that brings customers back to use more products and services.
Small business coaching with someone who speaks your language
The right coach for you will be someone who fits you in many ways — personality, background, experience — but most of all you need to use your gut check when hiring a coach. Try them out for a 90 day introductory period like you have with new employees. Interview a coach and then try them out for a few months. In a down economy, you need as much help as possible to succeed. The business owners who fail very often worked hard in their business, but never focused on those areas that are crucial to survive and thrive in unsure times. Those who succeed get the right help that they need.