I was horrified to find in my post yesterday a letter from leading business services firm Deloitte & Touche a letter that threatened my economic and moral position by offering free business coaching and business mentoring in the Birmingham area (where I live and work.)
My Moral Dilemma
Do I stay true to the purpose of my blog in bringing you developments within the business coaching industry together with the best high impact, low cost business development solutions?
At a time when I am developing my custompreneur ideas (customer focused entrepreneurs) which is based on putting the needs of the customer first, can I hold this information back?
"To Thine Own Self Be True"
It seems appropriate to turn to local hero, William Shakespeare (Hamlet for anyone interested) for guidance.
I truly believe in the importance on focusing on the needs of the long term interests of the customer and "what goes around, comes around" so you can see for yourself my response.
I have gritted my teeth and decided that I must stick to my values, even if that means telling you about a business coaching service which reduces my opportunity for income.
High Growth Business Support Programme
Birmingham City Council is funding the new High Growth Business Support Programme until June 2009 which is "a fully funded programme designed for high growth businesses based in the Birmingham area to benefit from bespoke coaching over a 10-12 month period.
The majority of the business coaching will be done by the Academy of Chief Executives (who I wasn't familiar with until yesterday) and will focus on the personal development of the entrepreneur and business management teams.
The entry criteria are:
- Trading period of at least 6 months
- Small and medium sized enterprises with proven annual turnover, growth and capability.
If you are interested in finding out how you can have a free business coach, there are two showcase events to present the benefit of the programme to high growth local businesses on 26th of March and 29th of April 2008.
More Details of the Free Business Coaching
Telephone 0121 696 8546
Is It Right To Use Government Funding To Alter The Competitive Balance?
We have had this problems for many years in the business coaching and small business advice industry.
Successive governments want to encourage small businesses and the enterprise culture to develop so they pour tax payers money into subsidising services that the private sector already provides.
There have been some success stories but most of the time, I hear from people who have not been very impressed with the government sponsored small business initiatives.
Hopefully this business coaching scheme will be different but I do feel that it is unfair competition and would love to hear anybody's ideas on how I can compete.
Clearly if this free business coaching is successful in Birmingham, it will roll out across the UK and threaten far more business coaching firms.
How Do I Compete Against Free Business Coaching?
If you read my business coaching blog then you will know I have some concerns about the traditional "trading time for money" basis of professional services where the entrepreneur carries the risks.
I offer my clients a guarantee that their performance will improve.
If it doesn't (and personal chemistry and individual responsibility are essential) my business coaching fees are zero on the basis that the business has not seen a tangible benefit.
This does mean that I need to be quite fussy about who I choose to work with since:
- The profitable opportunity has to be there - it it isn't then both you and I are wasting our time.
- There has to be a commitment to measurement.
- There has to be a real desire from the entrepreneur to want to move forward and therefore a willingness to try new things.
- The business has to have a vision for the future.
- The entrepreneur / business management team have to be nice people who I can trust.
My approach to business coaching is based on the Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity.
I still believe that this is an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs. It shows that I am entrepreneurial and that I believe in their business.
The Next Best Thing To Free Business Coaching
Sorry but I can't do free but if you sign up to my email newsletter you will receive some very good reports (I would say excellent but you'd think I was bragging) together with email lessons based on the Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity.
I am also working on a low cost business training membership site which takes the Eight Pillars of Business Coaching approach and delivers it to you systematically, one pillar per month.
Is Free Business Coaching Even A Good Idea?
It is said that people don't value what they don't pay for and there is certainly some truth in that.
One of the essential things I look for in coaching clients is commitment - commitment to improvement and commitment to make changes in the business.
Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith has a saying "what got you here won't get you there".
Because business coaching is change conducted through the business owner, it won't work if the entrepreneur is not ready to change.
What Do You Think About Free Business Coaching?
I am interested to learn what you think about free business coaching and mentoring.
Hand on heart, would you take as much notice of someone who was free as someone who was costing you £1,000 for a day, £5,000 or even £10,000?
I don't think people do and if people experience free business coaching, don't take action and don't see an improvement it gives business coaching a bad reputation.
Whinge over but I am interested to hear what you think.