How Accessible is Coaching?

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Business people who have never worked with a coach often have misapprehensions about it. I often hear things like:

I don’t think I can afford it We don’t have the time to work on our business I don’t think coaching will suit me The idea of talking to a stranger makes me nervous

I’d like to take this opportunity to do a bit of myth-busting about coaching. I believe that almost any business could gain a great deal from working with a good coach… and that there’s a coach out there who’s just perfect for almost every business!

Is coaching too expensive?

The price of business coaching can vary wildly depending on the type of coach and programme you choose. When people think about investing in coaching they often think of growth coach programmes that require an up-front investment of thousands of pounds. If this is what is putting you off: don’t worry! In my experience most business coaches don’t work this way. I, and many of my colleagues, operate on a much more flexible per-session basis. You won’t need to set aside a four figure sum to get started and you definitely won’t need to commit to a programme before you know if it’s right for you.

Is coaching too time-consuming?

Almost anything that’s worth having requires work. That said, my Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business programme requires just two hours per month from participants. If you’re serious about moving forwards with your business, you’re going to need to set aside at least a couple of hours a month to work on it. You may find that this is much easier to stick to when you have a standing appointment with a coach. That appointment will become a ring-fenced bit of time that you know you will be dedicating to the future of your business, no matter what else crops up during the week. Because of this, working with a coach can often be more helpful when you’re busy.

Is coaching too prescriptive?

Obviously I can’t speak for all coaches, but trust me when I say that the work I do is never prescriptive. I don’t have one-size-fits-all methods that I trot out for every business client! Instead I focus on getting to know my clients and understanding how their business works in order to facilitate coaching sessions that will drive real valuable change. For me, coaching isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s about providing a safe space to explore all the options and becoming a professional sounding board to discuss which of those options is the right one.

Is coaching too obtrusive?

Sitting down to talk about your business isn’t the same as chatting about it with a stranger. Coaches are usually professional individuals with specialist training and years of experience. We’re well-practised at making our clients feel comfortable and at home during our sessions and we tend to have a knack for knowing when to push and when to step back. If your coach makes you feel nervous or uncomfortable, I suspect you’re working with the wrong one.

Do you have any other misgivings about the coaching process? I’d love to help you address them! You could tweet me @GreenShootCoach or send me a private message via email.

Are You Confident About What You’re Selling?

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Success in business requires many things; good planning, a strong skill base, a wide network, a heavy sprinkling of luck and a lot of confidence. No matter how solid your business plan, if you don’t believe 100% in what you’re doing, it’s likely that no one else will either.

Unfortunately, I meet a lot of business owners who don’t have confidence in what they’re selling. This is a really common issue that can really be holding you back.

If you’re not completely confident in what you’re selling, it’s likely that:

  • You’re charging less than you’re worth
  • You’re failing to put yourself out there for new opportunities
  • You’re wasting precious time worrying
  • You won’t know what direction to grow your business in
  • You’re hesitating over every decision
  • Your customers will be tempted to go elsewhere
  • You’re not enjoying your business

In my experience there are usually two reasons why business owners aren’t confident about what they’re selling. The first is that they have low self-esteem and the second is that deep down they know there is a fundamental problem with their business.

Reason one: low self-esteem

Let’s tackle the self-esteem problem first. Almost all of us struggle with our self-esteem levels from time to time, but for some people it can start to have a big impact on all areas of their lives. If it’s low self-esteem that’s causing your lack of confidence in your business, this can be a really lonely place to be. One of the key ways to deal with this issue is to get some support.

If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done… Five Ways to Break the Cycle

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I’m a big advocate of the concept that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

This is something that comes up a lot when I’m working with clients. From an outside stand point it’s often easy to see that a business owner is getting the same results because they’re putting in the same efforts over and over again. When you are that business owner, however, it can be much more difficult to realise that this is the case.

If you’ve fallen into this trap with your business, it’s likely that it’s seriously holding you back. There’s an obvious solution here, and that’s to try something new. Unfortunately, when you’ve been marketing the same services in the same way to the same people for a certain length of time, it can be really tricky to break the cycle.

Here are five ways to break old habits and try something different:

Look at your business from a customer’s perspective

When was the last time you looked at your business from a different perspective? The way you’ve always done things may work for you, but if they’re not working for your customers you’ll need to rethink. One effective way to do this can be to try and experience what things are like for your customers. You could do this by surveying your customers, asking for honest feedback, or even by hiring a mystery shopper.

Work with different experts

If you work with people such as marketing experts, designers, copywriters and photographers, you might want to consider whether it’s time for a change. There can be a great deal of benefit to be gotten from building working relationships with these people over time… but if what they’re doing isn’t working for you you might want to shake things up. Engaging the services of a new team of experts could help you to do this.

Talk to a coach

It can be difficult to break out of old habits if you’re not sure why you keep returning to them. For example: is it a lack of confidence that’s stopping you from trying something new, or is it because you’re not sure what you’re aiming for in the long term? A session with a coach could help you to address some of these issues and gain more of an awareness of the opportunities that are available for you and your business.

Go back to basics

When was the last time you looked at your business plan and strategy documents? If it’s been a while, it might be a good idea to review them and consider whether there’s anything you want to revisit, anything you want to re-address, or anything that’s been missed out. If you don’t have a business plan or strategy documents, going right back to the beginning and developing some could put you in a very good position to have a fresh start.

Take some time away

Owning a business is extremely full on! When you spend every day inside your business it can seem almost impossible to be able to step back and see the big picture. If your business practices have got a bit stale and you can’t see a way to refresh them, it might be time for you to take a break. Many business owners find that taking a holiday from their business and doing something different can be very inspiring.

Over to you: have you ever got caught in a cycle with your business? How did you break out of it? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter.

Five Reasons Business Owners Don’t Hire a Coach

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There are many reasons why business owners choose to work with a coach. There are also a lot of reasons why they don’t. Making the decision to look into coaching can be a very personal one and I’ve talked with many business owners about why they don’t feel ready to take that step.

I wanted to explore some of the most common reasons I’ve come across and why they might not be good enough reasons to put off investing in yourself and your business.

One: they think it means they’re failing

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions people have about business coaching: that you only need it when things go wrong. In fact, coaching is an incredible tool to use when things are going well, too. A good coach can help you to improve your business, move in a direction that’s a better fit for you, and increase your profits.

Two: they think it’ll be too much of a commitment

Small business owners I speak to are often worried about the commitment of coaching. They’ve heard stories about coaching growth programmes that require huge investment both in terms of money and time. But not all coaches work that way. Many of us, like me, offer a complimentary initial session, accessible prices and flexible contract terms. For us, coaching is about working for you and your business in a way that feels right. Even as little as an hour a month can have a significant impact and add real value.

Three: they’re worried about opening up

This can be a big one. Those of us who are used to being the boss aren’t necessarily in the habit of talking about our challenges. It’s important to remember, however, that having a safe space to be honest about what we’re facing can be extremely beneficial. If you take your time and find a coach that’s a good fit for you, opening up in this way should feel totally natural.

Four: they’re not ready to make changes

Sometimes business owners think they want a better business or a bigger business, but deep down they’re not ready to take that step. And that’s okay. After all, it might not be the right time. But if it is the right time and it’s just fear holding you back, working with a coach could actually give you the confidence to make changes and move forwards.

Five: they don’t think their business is worth it

Be honest: how do you feel about your business? If you’re not sure about spending the money to get the best from it, is it because you don’t think it’s good enough? If it is, I’d say this mindset is definitely holding you back. It may seem like a huge uncomfortable leap forwards, but making the decision to invest in your business will help you to realise that it is good enough and it is worth it.

If you’re on the fence about coaching, I’d be interested to hear if your reasons are similar to the ones mentioned above. You could share your thoughts with me on Twitter, Facebook or even by sending me a private email.  

Introducing Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business

Michaela Oldfield Business Coaching

A few years ago I had a high pressured professional development career in the corporate world. I was good at my job and really enjoyed it, but over the years the needs of the business had shifted meaning less investment in people and the role just didn’t work for me anymore. I made the decision to step away from my career and into something new that would be a better fit for the life I wanted to lead. After some careful consideration I realised that I wanted to work with other people to help them make decisions about their professional and personal future, and thus Green Shoots Coaching was born.

Because my business started in a very organic way, I’ve always worked to ensure that it develops that way too. My newest offering Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business is no different. I’ve worked with many business owners and though they have been facing some very different challenges, often the basic struggles of entrepreneurship are the same. One key aspect of this is that business owners are often focused on growing their business and the outside factors that will enable them to do that before they look inwards. In my experience, it’s vital to look carefully at yourself and any internal factors that may be preventing your business from growing before you do anything else.

Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business is an ongoing business support programme designed to work as a regular personal and business health check. Members will receive a coaching session each month where we’ll be able to discuss ongoing issues, develop strategies for moving forward and tackle problems as and when they arise. Over the years I’ve found that business owners who take the time to work with me in this way develop a far better level of personal and business resilience which, in turn, makes them much more likely to succeed.

This programme is designed for business owners who understand the value of investing in their personal wellbeing. After all, if you are not functioning at your best, you’re not going to be able to give your business 100%. I’m offering regular protected time that will be your opportunity to relax, step out of your business, talk through your challenges, deal with ongoing issues, build on insecurities, and develop resilience that will allow you to move forwards. Entrepreneurship does entail a lot of data and number work, but there are also many emotional aspects. When business owners ignore these emotional aspects their business often suffers as a result.

The thing about business coaching is that there is no such thing as one size fits all. I’ve always had a strong focus on providing an individual service for individual clients, and Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business won’t change that. This programme isn’t designed to be an identi-fit option. Instead, it’s designed as an easy way to budget for and schedule in time for ongoing business support. What that support looks like is, as always, completely down to what you and your business need.

Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business may be a new service in name, but it developed organically out of the needs of my existing clients. Some of them use the programme as a way to sit down each month and talk one-to-one about sensitive and private issues. Some of them have used the time to develop strategies for building a better atmosphere in their workplace and creating happier employees. Some have even used the time to work with me to build a performance management system that’s perfectly tailored to their business. Whatever your business needs, I can offer the emotional and practical support to make it happen.

If you’d like to know more about the Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business membership programme and how it could work for you and your business, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to organise an initial consultation free of charge.

Is it Worth Investing in Yourself?

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Investing in business is one of the key ways entrepreneurs seek to grow. There are many ways to do this. Perhaps you could spend money on your workspace, your equipment, your staff or your infrastructure. Many business owners choose to invest by researching new products, developing services or by adding additional certification to their work.

My advice, however, is to invest in your business’ biggest asset. When you think about that, what do you picture? Your key equipment? Your laptop? Your website? Think again. Whatever your business, quite simply; it’s biggest asset is you.

Most likely, you are the person around which your business revolves. It’s you that manages the day to day work, you who develops the strategy for moving forwards, and you who deals with any challenges that crop up. If you really want to improve your business, it might be time to think about how you can invest in improving your own capabilities.

Broadly speaking there are two ways to do this. The first way is to choose to build on your education. You might decide to take a short course in an area of business you struggle with day-to-day, or even decide to invest in a longer term option such as a masters degree.

The second option is to choose business coaching. Working with a good coach could help you make sure your business gets the best of you. Often it’s our own insecurities and habits that hold our businesses back: working with a coach can help us to identify and overcome these and ensure you’re able to be the absolute best you can be for your business.

I’m a very firm believer in the idea that a happy, confident business owner results in a forward-facing, successful business. When you’re spending forty or fifty plus hours every week focusing on entrepreneurship, it can be very easy to neglect your own needs. This may sound like smart business sense in the short term, but in the long term a run-down business owner is not going to be able to provide as much value to their business as they’d like. After all, would you treat your other vital business assets in the same way?!

In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be launching a new service: Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business. This business coaching service has grown organically around my experience of what business owners really need from a coach like me. I’ll be sharing more details about it soon, but in the meantime, why not consider when the last time you really invested in yourself as a business asset was?

Should You Work With a Trusted Advisor or a Growth Coach?

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There is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to business coaching. Coaching is unlikely to have much of an impact if you’re working with a coach who isn’t right for you.

Today, I want to broach the subject of the growth coach. By growth coach I’m talking about a specific kind of business coach who businesses choose to work with when they want to see measurable results quickly or take their business to the next level. A growth coach can be an excellent option for businesses who are ready to sell more and improve their bottom line. This type of coach tends to focus on the numbers side of the business, and might not be right for business owners who are being held back for other reasons.

Green Shoots Business Coaching is designed to work in a different but complementary way to growth coaches. I work with people who need a trusted advisor who can support them in being the best business owner they can be. Growth is a key issue in business, and when the time is right I encourage my clients to take steps to achieve it. However, I know that there are often many emotional and relationship challenges to overcome before this will be successful. In other words, if you’re not at your best… your business wont be either!

If you’re thinking about investing in business coaching, how do you know whether a growth coach or a trusted advisor is right for you?

A growth coach might be right for you if…

  • You need help you with the numbers side of your business
  • You’re looking for practical assistance to increase your sales
  • You feel mentally ready and able to expand your business
  • You’re excited about the possibility of doing more of what you’re already doing
  • You would benefit from a short-term injection of growth advice

A trusted advisor might be right for you if…

  • Your confidence (or lack of) is holding your business back
  • You are experiencing unhealthy levels of stress
  • You’re not sure which direction to take your business in next
  • You need someone to discreetly discuss everyday business problems with
  • You need someone who can help you to look at the bigger picture
  • You’re struggling to work with your business partner or employees
  • You’re unhappy in your role and want to make some changes
  • You need help positioning your business against competitors

Ultimately, choosing the right coach is a very personal decision. My advice would be to explore different options and meet with a few coaches face-to-face. That way you’ll be able to see whether you have ‘coaching chemistry’ and make sure your coach has the necessary experience to support you with the individual challenges that face your business.