If you’ve never looked into business coaching before now, you might have a few misconceptions about what it is and who it’s for. You may think it’s just for failing businesses, but actually the vast majority of my business clients are running flourishing ones. Equally, you may have assumed that business coaches are only for ‘lonely’ business owners who don’t have a supportive network… but in reality this is far from the case.
Being surrounded by a supportive network is absolutely fantastic. Family members, friends and fellow business owners can all be great to have around, and many business owners find they really are a great resource when it comes to business.
This being said, even the most supportive personal and professional networks have their limitations. The main issue? Family, friends and professional contacts will almost always have a subconscious vested interest in the choices you make.
Let me give you a few examples
Your spouse may have excellent business sense… but they may subconsciously steer you away from any business direction they view as too financially risky.
Your parents may be generally very on-board with your career choice… but they may be less-than-enthusiastic about any decisions that don’t match up with their own ambitions for you.
Your friends may be a great sounding board… but they may not be able to hide their disappointment about potential growth opportunities that involve more time spent away from home.
Your employees might be really insightful about your market… but they may find it difficult to separate any advice they offer from the desire to maintain their own professional status quo.
Your fellow business owners might be full of knowledge and advice… but they may unknowingly be holding back on areas that represent a cross over between your business and theirs.
With all these different agendas and priorities at play, it can be really difficult to find someone who really will offer no judgement and can advise you on business matters with total impartiality.
That’s where business coaches come in
One of the top five reasons new business clients approach me is because they’re looking for a trusted advisor with no vested interest and no hidden agenda. They want to feel that they are being truly listened to, and that they can be totally honest.
Because, of course, when you talk to members of your existing supportive network you, too, are likely to be holding back. You may be wary of showing weakness, admitting disappointments or even letting them in on secret ambitions.
When you make the decision to work with a professional business coach, you can be confident that both you and your advisor are coming to the conversation without that hidden agenda. You don’t need to impress your business coach or protect them from potential problems. Instead, you can have a truly objective conversation about where you are with your business, where you want to be, and the best path to take to get there.
Does this type of supportive relationship sound like it would be useful to you? If it does, please think about getting in touch. I offer a free consultation to every potential client. Take a look at my Are You Ready for Coaching? questionnaire to get started.
Earlier in the year I blogged about making wise choices for your business in 2016. Many of you will have sat down to do something similar; whether you called them wise choices, yearly goals or New Year’s Resolutions.
Today I’d like to ask you all how things are going with those goals. The first month or so of working towards a new goal or target is often easier than we thought it might be. This is often due to the novelty factor of a new habit or routine. Unfortunately, as that novelty wears off it can often be difficult to make sure you keep on track, especially when new challenges crop up in the meantime.
So how is it going? Are you still in the honeymoon period with your 2016 goals or are you struggling to keep reaping the benefits?
February can be a tricky month for staying on target. If this feels true for you, it might be time to bring in some help. Investing in some coaching sessions could be an excellent way to ensure you stay true to your goals and work towards greater success in the future.
If you’re not sure how a coach would help in this situation, here’s a few examples.
A coach would work with you to review your 2016 goals
Sometimes we struggle to keep goals because they weren’t the right ones for us to have made in the first place. Alternatively, we may be having an issue because even though the overall goal is a wise one, the individual steps we’ve set ourselves in order to work towards it need tweaking.
An experienced coach would start by reviewing the goals you’ve set and making sure they’re achievable and relevant to your individual situation. They would also help you to break big goals up into a series of smaller manageable targets.
A coach would act as an accountability partner
Not only would a coach help to ensure the goals you’re working towards are the right ones, they would also give you further accountability to stay on target. Organising a monthly or quarterly check in with a coach can often help motivate us to have some progress to show!
A coach would offer impartial guidance and experience
It can be incredibly difficult to get a true picture of what your business situation looks like from the outside. A professional coach can be a great solution for this as they’re able to look impartially at the facts without getting caught up in the emotional side of owning a business. They would also be able to offer pointers and things to think about from their own experience, both as a business owner themselves and as someone who has helped countless other people through similar challenges.
A coach would remind you to focus on the bigger picture
When you work hard every day to keep things in your business ticking over it can be really easy to lose track of what you’re aiming for. Regular sessions with a coach would give you a neutral space to think about the bigger picture and remember why you set goals to begin with.
If you think it might be time to get some support with your 2016 goals, I’d love to hear from you. Why not read about how to tell when you’ve found the right coach for you or take my questionnaire to find out if you’re ready for coaching?
As a professional coach I often get asked what my coaching style is. This is sometimes tricky for me to answer succinctly as the style of my sessions really does depend on the needs of each client! All my coaching services are offered on a holistic basis: I feel it’s important to look at the whole picture rather than just one particular segment of it. This means that if we plan a session to talk about your business or career, I’ll also be listening out for clues about how other areas of your life are affecting these, and vice versa.
I have always believed in the importance of offering significant value to my clients. Because of this, over the years I’ve made it my mission to draw on a wide variety of experiences, techniques and tools in order to help each individual or business I meet with to work towards their full potential.
Part of that metaphorical coaching tool kit is a range of behaviour techniques. These specialist tools can be designed to help you to change any behaviour patterns that are no longer working for you. Myself and my clients have had some great success with the practise of NLP.
NLP, or neuro-linguistic programming, is an approach developed in the United States nearly fifty years ago. The technique links what’s going on in our brain to the type of language we use and our behavioural patterns. Addressing these three areas can help to make a big difference to the way we act and feel, and therefore bring us closer to reaching our key aims.
Many of my coaching clients complain about finding it difficult to ‘switch off’ from work. Being unable to mentally step away from work in this way can make it difficult to enjoy socialising or even to be able to properly relax during downtime. I have helped many of these clients change this habit using NLP as well as a programme of exercise, meditation and mindfulness exercises.
What else could behaviour techniques help you achieve?
- dropping unhelpful or destructive habits
- overcoming an unhealthy relationship with finances
- being able to better manage stress
- trusting yourself to make better decisions
- creating new positive habits
- becoming more motivated
- improving the quality of your relationships with others
- reducing anxieties and worries
- gaining more confidence
- increasing productivity
Personally, I’m a big believer in the idea that there needs to be a strong rapport between the practitioner and the client in order for NLP to be successful. Presumably this is why this particular technique can be so valuable as part of the coaching process!
When you are looking for a coach, it’s really important to meet with a few professionals and choose someone who you feel you really ‘click’ with. Whether you are seeking support primarily with your relationship, your personal aims, your business or your career, coaching sessions are likely to involve some tough questions and the need to address some deep-rooted beliefs. Navigating all this will be so much more positive and productive with a coach you genuinely like and trust.
Want to know more about where the coaching process could take you? I’ve shared a lot more information here.
Here’s a question: how much do you value the people who work in your company? The answer to this might seem obvious: without them it’s possible your business would grind to a halt. And yet, many of the business owners I encounter aren’t showing that appreciation in any real terms.
The reality is that your business is only as good as the people in your team. Your ideas could be spot on, but if the people on the ground aren’t implementing them in the right way then those ideas are unlikely to succeed. This could be a key reason why your business is failing to thrive and grow.
Personally, I believe that business owners should think of themselves not just as employers but as potential-optimisers. When we choose to employ someone, we typically do so because we like something about what they have to offer. Often this spark is due to potential rather than the finished product. Someone who has never worked in your business before is unlikely to give you exactly what you need on their first day.
Even the most qualified employees need to be nurtured. The most effective employers are the ones who are able to identify and grow the potential of their staff.
Are you just employing staff or are you actively working to build their potential? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
When was the last time you evaluated your staff?
Staff evaluations and progress reports can be a generic administration exercise… or they can be a brilliant opportunity to assess areas for learning and improvement. Which are they for you? If it’s the former, you may want to think about setting some time aside to genuinely consider how your staff are performing and what might be standing in the way of their development.
Have you invested financially in training your team?
Staff training can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. There can be a huge amount to gain from good quality training. Training investment could save you from having to employ a new person, as you may be able to train an existing employee to take on new responsibility.
Do you ever block out work time for professional development?
Potential-optimisation isn’t just about paying course fees. Professional development also happens in the workplace. This can be in the form of evaluation meetings, mentoring, team building sessions and staff forums.
Do you accept what is or do you set out to improve?
When your employees aren’t performing to the standard you expect them to, you have a number of options. You could seek to replace them, you could ignore your disappointment and accept the status quo… or you could support them to improve.
How confident are you when it comes to recognising potential?
Being able to recognise true potential in other people is a very useful skill. Not all of us have it, and you may need to be honest with yourself about whether you do. If you don’t, there are ways around it. You may want to develop your own skills in this area, or you could choose to work with a trusted professional to help assess your team.
Do you value one-to-one coaching with your team members?
When was the last time you sat down with each member of staff in turn and had a one-on-one conversation? This kind of communication can have a lot of value, and not just for staff development. You could also learn a lot from your employees! If this kind of relationship building isn’t your strength, there is plenty of professional coaching help available.
Are you building your own potential?
This last point is an important one. Are you working to optimise your own potential? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. All of us are works-in-progress and none of us should stand still when it comes to professional development. If you find it difficult to value your own potential, it’s likely that you’ll feel the same way about that of your employees.
If your answers to the above questions suggest that you’re not doing much potential-optimisation at the moment, it might be time to think about starting. When you support your team to develop their skills, you will indirectly be working to tend the future of your business. Once again: your business is only as good as the people in your team.
When you think of a business coaching session, what do you see? I’m pretty certain that the image you’re coming up with is of two people in suits sitting across a table from each other. Perhaps there are charts and figures between them on the table, perhaps there’s an open laptop. No doubt the image is a very formal one.
But what if business coaching looked a little different?
I’m a firm believer in making sure your coaching sessions are designed in a way that will be of most benefit to you. Some business owners respond really well to a formal setting and want to meet their coach in a boardroom environment. For others this feels unnatural and they’d much rather have their sessions in a more comfortable space.
I hold most of my conversations with clients on the sofa in my relaxing coaching space, but I’m always open to alternative suggestions.
As a coach I aim to always be open to these new ideas, mainly because they can lead to a lot of progress being made. Some of the biggest breakthroughs I’ve had with clients have been during outside coaching sessions. I sometimes offer my clients the option of taking a walking session. This means that instead of sitting comfortably inside to chat, we put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go out for a walk together!
There’s something very powerful about walking and talking in the fresh air: it can shake things and allow us to see a situation in a completely new way. Personally I know that I’ve had far more creative ideas while out walking my dog than I have while sitting at a boardroom table. By giving my clients the option to work together in a less formal style I feel that I’m opening up more creative opportunities for them.
If you’re considering working with a business coach, make sure you ask prospective coaches whether they can accommodate your preferences.
- Do you want to talk formally at work?
- Will you feel more ready to talk in person?
- Would you prefer to meet virtually from your own workspace?
- Does the presence of a hot cup of tea or coffee make you feel more prepared?
- Could you benefit from group sessions?
- Would you prefer to talk in the open air?
- Do you need a calm oasis away from the office to allow you to really focus?
Taking the time to ask yourself questions like these could help to get your coaching relationship off to a productive start. When you start work with a new coach it is likely to take them a few sessions to really get to know you and recognise the circumstances under which you work best. You can speed up this process by helping your coach out in advance: what do you know about yourself that would help your coach to work more effectively with you?
There are no rules for what an effective coaching session should look like. The right coach will work with you to design a programme of sessions to give you exactly what you need… even if you don’t know what that is yet!
If you’ve got an out-of-the-box idea for an informal coaching session, why not share it with me on Twitter? I’m @GreenShootCoach.
Growth coaches can be very powerful resources. A good growth coach can help you to maximise profits and grow your business… but only if you’re really ready to take that step.
Not every business is ready to grow. Some businesses take on a growth coach programme only to discover that it isn’t working. Often this is because they have other issues in their business that need to be addressed.
It can be hard to accept that it isn’t the right time for your business to grow, but a difficult decision now could help you to get into a more productive mindset for the future.
Often this decision comes down to gut feeling. If you love what you’re doing and are excited about the prospect of doing more, growth coaching might be the way forward for you. Equally, if you feel like everything is working in your business except your finances, an experienced growth coach could help you translate your into a much healthier bottom line.
But what if your gut feeling isn’t quite so positive?
If you’re unsure which direction to move in…
If you’re finding it difficult to handle the stress of being a business owner…
If you suspect that your product or service offerings need work…
If you think your lack of confidence might be holding you back…
If you’re having communication problems with employees or colleagues…
If issues in your personal life are getting in the way of your business…
If you just have the sense that something isn’t working…
…then it probably isn’t your time to work with a growth coach yet.
This isn’t to say that you need to struggle through these issues yourself. A more holistic business coach could offer just the support you need. Coaches like myself are keen to help you build your confidence and get a handle on the emotional side of your business. We could help you to build better communication strategies, determine what’s right for the future of your business and equip you with practical tools for managing stress.
The best news is that these two types of coach don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You’re not making an either/or decision that could stop you from fulfilling your potential. If you and your business aren’t quite ready to work with a growth coach yet… a coach like myself could help you to get there.
Coaching is a valuable tool that can be used in a way that’s right for you. I believe in giving my clients the freedom to work with me in whatever capacity is best for them. Some clients choose to work with me on a long term basis as a trusted advisor. Others come to me because they have a specific issue they need to work through. For them the work we do together is a means to an end: we’re aiming to solve a problem and when we do they can return to handling things on their own.
In the past few years I’ve worked with many clients who were keen to grow their business but weren’t quite ready to take the next step. With my support these clients are able to address the outstanding issues in their business and get themselves into the best possible shape for growth. This helps them get ready to take on the structure of a growth coach programme. In fact, once we’ve come to the mutual decision that they’re ready to move on, I’m even able to recommend a suitable growth coach for the job!
What could coaching do for your business? I’ll let my clients do the talking: here are ten things they’ve gained from working with me.
We’re almost a month into the Autumn term. For many of us this means we’re finally getting back into our ‘normal’ routine after the school summer holidays.
I love school holidays. For me they offer an excellent chance to reconnect with my family and take a well-deserved restorative break. Unfortunately, school holidays can also be very disruptive to work, especially if you run your own business. By the time September rolls around, many of us working parents are keen to get back to reality!
Over the past few weeks I’ve spoken to a number of people who feel they haven’t slipped quite as comfortably back into routine as they were expecting. For whatever reason things haven’t clicked into place and the routines they were looking forward to returning to suddenly don’t feel right.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time for some serious personal reflection. Is there a simple reason why your routine isn’t quite working? Or could it be time for a change? There are a whole handful of reasons why things can feel uncomfortable at this time of year.
For some of us it’s because we’ve got caught up in the ‘back to school’ spirit. There’s a lovely sense of ‘newness’ to autumn, but if you’re no longer satisfied with your career or your business, that could lead to frustration.
Equally, if you’ve taken an extended break over the summer to spend time with your children or to go on holiday, returning to routine could make you more likely to see something you’ve been ignoring for a while.
Some people have a different problem: for them the summer months have been so taken up with constant parenting duties they’ve had no time for personal reflection. Once the children have returned to school and you have time on your own again, it can be an opportunity to focus on yourself and your own needs.
Whatever your reasons, if you’ve returned to your routine only to discover that it doesn’t feel quite right, it’s time to do something about it. The first step on this process is likely to be setting some time aside for some productive deep thinking. In order to make changes and make things right, you’re going to need to be able to identify exactly what it is that isn’t working for you anymore.
You could try asking yourself some of the following questions.
- Are you unhappy in your current job?
- Are you thinking about a new business idea?
- Is your work environment not working for you anymore?
- Does your business need some new investment?
- Is it time to look for a promotion?
- Are you missing out on an opportunity to grow your business?
- Could the time be right to downsize?
- Would you be happier with a different career focus?
- Is it time to let go of aspects of your business that aren’t working?
- Could you benefit from some more support in your business?
- Are you bored of your routine?
- Do you still love what you do?
Whatever your discoveries, it’s not too late to soak up the ‘back to school’ feeling and have a new start this autumn. Even a few small changes could help to make your routine feel more natural and your career or business more fulfilling.
If you’d like to explore more about this, I’m here to talk. Why not take advantage of my free initial consultation?
People choose to work with a coach for a whole range of different reasons. This makes sense, as the benefits can be extremely wide ranging. A single coach can work to support their various clients in very different ways. In fact: I consider this one of my personal strengths: identifying the type of support my clients would benefit from most.
To illustrate this, I spoke to ten of my clients and asked them what they’ve gained from their time with me. I received ten varied answers that give an excellent insight into what there is to gain from coaching.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Working with Michaela has given us “headspace”. Running your own business and being married to your business partner has obvious challenges, but also some less obvious ones. It was crucial that we worked with a coach who had a direct approach without being stifling; someone who could get us thinking about how we worked together.”
“Michaela helped us to get the building blocks in place to manage significant growth; quadrupling our workforce in 18 months. Michaela’s initial input was to help us re-evaluate our business model, support business planning, define roles and responsibilities. Michaela then worked with the Senior Management team one on one, identifying and working through day to day challenges. Michaela’s input has now filtered through to coaching our employees and we have retained her services as we really appreciate and understand the value that she adds.”
“What surprises me most is how little I knew myself. Working with Michaela has given me a new feeling of liberation and confidence I didn’t know was possible. I am now clear on what I want and have taken bigger steps to start making my dreams reality.”
4. A chance to download
“My monthly meeting with Michaela is one of the most important dates in my diary. I value the time to ‘download’ hugely. It’s a great investment of my precious time because l always go away feeling lighter and better equipped for the coming month.”
“Michaela is a very capable and skilled professional with excellent listening skills. In all of our meetings she has been able to probe where appropriate so that I can reflect more on certain areas. This has helped me to more quickly reach conclusions about the heart of the issue and come up with solutions that I have ownership of and can ably work on myself.”
“Without Michaela’s help and guidance my business would probably still be a far off dream that I was unsure how to make a reality. The work I’ve done with Michaela has had a knock on effect in other parts of my life too, giving a much needed boost to my health and personal relationships! Thank you so much Michaela for helping me birth my dream and vision out into the world.”
7. A sounding board
“My biggest challenge as a business owner is loneliness as I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off! Regular sessions with Michaela more than fill that gap. It’s a bit like having a business partner but still knowing the business is very much mine.”
“The area of my business I most needed help with was ‘people’! I haven’t managed staff before but Michaela has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a people manager which is of huge help and value to my business.”
9. Reduced stress levels
“Michaela has given me many explicit tips of how to handle the stresses and strains of the working environment. She is able to identify and help others manage their stress levels and I have come out of our various conversations feeling much stronger.”
10. Creative ideas
“Creativity is an area I struggle with as I’m not a creative person myself. Michaela has encouraged me to think about how I do things and whether there is a better way. An example of this was suggesting that I asked my staff for direct feedback on my performance in an open team meeting. I wasn’t sure about this at first but tried it out and actually got some really good feedback both positive and developmental. This is something I would not have done if Michaela hadn’t suggested it but was instrumental in helping me build trust with my team.”
Have these answers got you thinking about what you might have to gain from coaching? If so, why not take me up on my offer of a free consultation? You can get started here.
I often get asked who business coaching is for. Or, more specifically, whether it’s right for small businesses and soloprenuers. Many people think that business coaches and consultants are only for big businesses with big budgets.
This isn’t the case! In fact, business coaching is particularly well suited to small businesses and soloprenuers.
Want to know why?
Small businesses and solopreneurs need trusted advisors
As you know, running a business isn’t easy. When you are a small business owner or solopreneur, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for advice. A business coach can be invaluable in these situations as they can act as a trusted advisor. A good coach will be able to act as a sounding board, support you in making difficult decisions, help you to see the bigger picture, and share their experience with you.
Small businesses and solopreneurs need to be smart with their budgets
Most business coaches offer accessible and affordable services. Setting aside part of your budget to work with a coach like this can be extremely productive. A good coach will provide an excellent return on your investment by sharing a wide range of expertise and helping you to increase your profits.
Small businesses and solopreneurs need to protect their business
When you work for yourself your income is generally less protected than when you have a salary. Because of this, it’s smart to ensure you’re safe guarding your business in every way possible! Working with a coach can help to ensure you and your business are working at your full potential. It can also help to protect you against common business shortfalls, and ensure that you spot and act on problems right away.
Small businesses and solopreneurs need an outside perspective
It’s easy to become short sighted in business and only see things the way you have always done them. This is especially true when you’re working on your own or with a small group of employees. Working with a coach can be an excellent way to bring in some fresh eyes and make sure that what you’re doing doesn’t become stale.
Small businesses and solopreneurs need to think big
If you want to compete with bigger businesses, you may need to think more like they do! Big businesses know how important it is to benefit from outside expertise. Many small business owners and solopreneurs overlook this, which often holds them back. Working with a coach is a great way for small businesses and solopreneurs to catch up with their larger competitors.
Are you a small business owner or solopreneur? If you are, you may be interested to know about my business membership programme Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business. It’s designed to give business owners like you regular access to valuable support.
If you’d like to find out whether this could be of benefit to you, take my questionnaire: Are You Ready for Coaching?
There are a lot of things that I love about being a coach. My clients are often on a journey, whether that’s to a more satisfying life or a better business. I feel very privileged to be able to be a part of that journey, especially as I’m often able to facilitate the understanding that makes it happen.
At the end of each client session I want to know that I’ve helped them get a little bit closer to where they need to be. When I first started coaching I started to use these lightbulb moments as an indicator that we were moving in the right direction.
A lightbulb moment is what I call a significant moment of realisation. It’s the point when a client says or hears something that makes them stop, think, and reevaluate.
It could be realising…
… that you don’t like the way you’re living
… that there’s something you really want
… that your personal feelings have been colouring the way you act towards others
… that you’re really great at something
… that you’re not as good at something as you thought you were
… that you’re unintentionally sabotaging yourself
… that you’re working towards the wrong goal
… that your dreams are achievable
… that there’s a better way to do something
… that you’re focusing on the wrong priorities
… that you’ve overlooked something fantastic
These moments are special as they generally drive my clients to make positive changes. Sometimes a seemingly small realisation can give us the confidence to do something that will make a big difference over time: finally accepting that you haven’t got much of a head for numbers could lead you to hiring an accounts expert who will help revolutionise your business. Equally, lightbulb moments can be big and immediately life-changing: reevaluating your priorities could lead to a career change or a house move.
Either way, these realisations and the subsequent changes (big and small!) enable us to move forward and get closer to where we want to be.
Whatever the lightbulb moment, I always know when we’ve reached it. My longer term clients usually recognise their own lightbulb moments now too! Over the years this has become a bit of an in joke with clients and now they’re just as attuned to their significant realisations as I am.
I consider this a real success, not least because I’ve been able to continue to help my clients reach these lightbulb moments. And of course: I’m also always on hand to assist in turning each lightbulb moment into actionable goals for driving real change.
When was the last time you experienced a lightbulb moment? I’d love to hear about it. Why not share your story in the comments?