I had one of those phone calls again. A small business owner - let's call him John - who needs business advice but can't afford an orthodox business coaching arrangement.
I always feel bad when I get these - as if money is all that matters and if the struggling business owner doesn't have the cash, then I'm not prepared to help.
And I don't like feeling bad...
...although I have learned that the people who don't pay the normal rate for coaching and advice but get it for free or at a discount, don't respond as well and don't take as much action as those who pay.
There is this link between price and perceived value. If business advice is free it is not considered to be as valuable as advice that costs money - even if the same things are said.
What Can You Get From A Business Coach?
Clients contact a business coach looking for solutions to problems they have in the business or for help taking advantage of opportunities.
- Guidance and advice
- To be listened to - sometimes there is no one who the business owner can talk to in detail about the business.
It is difficult to do all those things on a DIY business coaching basis.
Accountability to Actions
One of the biggest problems about being your own boss is that you don't have anyone but you to hold you accountable for your results and how you have achieved those results.
A business coach will do that as part of the business coaching process. You agree actions in one telephone call and meeting and you know that your coach will ask for progress and if you take it seriously, you won't want to be seen as having done little about the things you agreed were most important.
So if you are on a DIY business coaching path, you need to be able to hold yourself accountable.
You need to be able to set goals, identify the actions which will move you to the goals, set deadlines and priorities, take action and challenge what you've done or not done.
That's not easy.
I am very impressed with the free Simpleology 101 time management course and software program (read Simpleology 101 review or take a free membership of Simpleology and try for yourself - trust me to sign up - the webpage doesn't sell the benefits of membership very well).
Understand and use Simpleology 101 and move on to the Simpleology 102 course about money and you will go along way to keeping yourself focused and accountable in your DIY Business Coaching.
When I told my email list about Simpleology 101, this is one of the comments I got back
"The content of your emails are usually great but this surpasses most.
I don't know why you do this for free but I do want you to know that I am grateful for your work and appreciate the obvious time you put into this - please keep it coming"
Thanks Dean. The course is quality so trust me and open your Simpleology account. It is free.
You can get feedback from your business coach during a project - perhaps writing a sales letter or designing an advert - or you can wait for the results.
The only feedback that really matters beyond the feelgood factor and reassurance is the results so if you are working on your own, you need to give your self-confidence a boost by reflecting on your past successes. Then try a little test and see what the market says.
If the results are good, you have the feedback to try a larger test. If the results are bad, you have the chance to reflect on why things are not working as you expected.
If you can't afford a business coach to give you professional feedback, and you can't find an older family member or an experienced friend to act as an unpaid mentor, try to buddy up with another business owner and give each other ideas. It is best if you buy each other's products since you both have the chance to "play the customer" for the business and their competitors.
But in the end, results will give you all the feedback you need if you have a proper performance measurement system in place.
This buddy can also help with the recognition of a job well done and someone to listen to you talk about your business. I had one client, a very capable executive who just liked to talk to me and he solved his own problems as he talked and outlined the options and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Guidance And Advice
We live in the Information Age and there is no shortage of advice so your problems becomes one of finding the good from the bad.
First I think you need an overall business improvement model to help you to see your business through fresh eyes.
I am totally biased but I haven't seen anything better than my Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity . I recommend that you sign up for my email newsletter to help you to focus on improving each of the pillars.
I explain more on my squidoo lens - How To Increase Business Profitability - and it includes an interesting survey on which Pillar presents the most problems. I think you will probably be surprised at which is in the lead.
Finding The Right Gurus To Follow
This is tricky. As I said earlier there is so much advice out there so it is good to find a few people to follow. I wear my influences on my sleeve since I believe it is helpful for you to have the opportunity to go back to the originators of the ideas.
When you join my email newsletter I will be recommending resources at each stage.
However integrating advice from different sources isn't easy.
Two comprehensive programs I recommend are Scott Hallman's Small Business Growth Club and Paul Lemberg's Formula Five but both are premium priced and may cost more than you are willing to pay but are much lower cost than one-to-one coaching.
After you have joined Simpleology (remember the time management training I mentioned above) you will see that there are a number of excellent smaller courses based around Mark Joyner's books - The Irresistible Offer and The Great Formula. Both have the great strength of taking a complex situation and simplifying it.
Also from Simpleology, the growing number of best practice cashmaps are an invaluable guide to help you to implement winning strategies and tactics by providing clear, precise guidance.
Can Do - Will Do - Have Done
I have a bugbear - that training and advice is wasted if it doesn't turn into action. These cashmaps help you to take action by making it clear what you need to be doing and in what order.
My aim is to help you to improve profit and profit only comes from purposeful action on realistic opportunities.
I could recommend more but you will get more details when you sign up to my email list.
The key to success is to move you through the Can Do (training and advice) stage to the Will Do (commitment and accountability) stage to the Have Done stage where you can see the better results for yourself.
Disclosure - I am an affiliate for Simpleology and if you join after clicking through from my link and then buy, I will earn a commission. I am also an affiliate for the Small Business Growth Club and Formula Five. I pay to be a member of the Small Business Growth Club and I was given a copy of Formula Five to evaluate and review.