Brad Sugars is a proven man of action, having grown his business coaching franchise into the global market leader it is today.
Brad Sugars is a proven man of action, having grown his business coaching franchise into the global market leader it is today. The Founder and CEO of ActionCOACH tells Elite Franchise how he did it and what he’s doing now.
An accountant by trade Brad Sugars was always entrepreneurial in spirit, originally being inspired by US entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, the late Jim Rohn.
Even from a very young age, Sugars had small businesses and a paper route to earn money; but as he explains: “As I got more experience under my belt, I developed a natural curiosity for how to work smarter and to get measurable results.”
While at university Sugars had a couple of small businesses (a dog food delivery company and a pizza place) and later developed, as he puts it: “The ability to make companies from every conceivable industry flourish, which led to the nickname ‘The Turnaround Kid’.”
“I then started speaking and educating business owners and executives - sharing tips and advice on how to improve marketing and sales, how to use systemisation and how to build effective teams,” he adds.
Sugars soon realised however that he couldn’t meet the growing demand from local businesses alone. “I started training/selecting others on my approach and that led to the birth of ActionCOACH in Australia in 1993” - the company eventually decamping to Las Vegas in 1997, where it remains to this day.
ActionCOACH offers aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals personalised one-on-one mentorship from its team of qualified business coaches.
Each ActionCOACH has been hand-selected and carefully picked, based on their breadth of industry experience. And the strong desire to mentor and guide the next generation of business leaders across every conceivable industry.
In short, the company’s principal objective is to show business owners how to get more time, build better teams within their companies and add money to their bottom-lines.
The mix of businesses advised by ActionCOACH comprises all sizes/types - ranging from single operators, start-ups, and small businesses through to mid-size to large organizations, including Fortune 500 companies.
“We don’t shy away from coaching any business, because our strategies are based on business fundamentals. There is no secret sauce by industry, it is about applying proven and tested strategies and doing the work to get results,” says Sugars.
As a franchisor ActionCOACH benefits from both initial franchise fees and reoccurring royalty streams from its partners. “We aren’t unique,” says Sugars (but) franchise models are a great way to grow and to have steady revenue over a longer period of time.”
A prolific writer (more about that later), Sugars owns nine different businesses and is a partner in several other endeavours.
Sugars is still speaking and presenting new material, having recently unveiled 30X Business - a programme offering 30 years of his business experience in 30, 30-minute videos.
“I am currently offering it for only $99, so that I can help as many businesses as I can during this (COVID-19) crisis,” he adds. Meanwhile, 30X Life and 30X Wealth, are set to follow soon.
Key to ActionCOACH’s success over the past 27 years has been to venture into countries others have ignored or avoided and building ‘a community of professional like-minded people who have a real passion’, according to Sugars.
“Our partners across the globe live the vision of the company – ‘World Abundance through business re-education’. “We change lives and we see the impact we have in our communities. It is powerful,” he adds.
Described as possessing a dynamic stage presence, as well as someone who enjoys motivating and educating other business owners via ActionCOACH’s online content, the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, unsurprisingly, is having an impact – not least in terms of Sugars’ personal appearances.
“The good news is that ActionCOACH was already to some extent a virtual business.
“Our coaches are used to using digital tools to coach clients. The largest shift has come in moving from “live” in person events to virtual events. (But) coaches have really stepped up,” he notes
As a result Sugars has resorted to using webinar formats and has recently addressed groups in India, Germany, Russia and Turkey, for example.
“This virtual format allows us to reach thousands of participants at a time.”
As a result, this has led to the creation of several new series, including an updated version of the ‘Crisis Averted’ webinar offering, as well as the ‘Survive & Thrive’ 10-day, 5-hour training programme, to name two. These are designed to focus on ways to support and manage businesses through the COVID 19 crisis and beyond.
Though present in more than 70 countries already; and with nearly 1,000 franchise partners, expansion is still on the menu for ActionCOACH with potential being seen in India, alongside continued expansion in South Africa, the UK and Australia.
In addition, partners have recently been added in the Baltic States, Germany and Russia. South America meanwhile is seen as offering growth potential, while opportunities are still available in the United States.
Fulfilling expansion goals of course means having the right calibre of business coaches in place in the first instance.
“We have tried to pin down the “ideal candidate” for our franchise for years and we continue to be surprised by the diverse backgrounds and experiences our franchisees have,” says Sugars.
“Certainly, a solid business background is a great foundation, but experience in educating, training and finance, also tends to be prevalent.
“The most successful coaches are those that are self-motivated, continually learning and determined to make a difference in their community. We teach them the strategies and provide them with the tools, but it is their ability to make connections and develop deep relationships with their clients that make them successful,” he adds.
One of those tools is teaching partners ways to find clients and to keep them. This is part of the induction training provided by ActionCOACH.
But as Sugars is quick to point out:” Most of our franchise partners had a robust network before they became an ActionCOACH and they use that network to jump-start their business.”
“Additionally, ActionCOACH Global forwards leads via our global website to coaches and master licensees every month. We measure our brand exposure and use digital marketing and social media marketing to drive potential clients to our partners.
Out in the field coaches employ a variety of strategies, though word-of-mouth and referrals tend to be the best way to grow their individual businesses, according to Sugars.
Sugars’ activities aren’t merely confined to personal/webinar appearances though; he is also a prolific writer with 17 books published to date, something he sees as a constant work-in-progress with one volume growing from another.
Key to his prolific output is continuing to absorb information and reading more than one book a week. “I am constantly refining my ideas, but my philosophy doesn’t really change. It may evolve and expand to address new trends, but fundamental sound business practices don’t really change. You have to reduce complexity and refine processes to constantly improve,” he says.
In his latest book "Pulling Profits Out of a Hat: Adding Zeros to Your Company Isn’t Magic” Sugars describes the 5 disciplines: Strategy, Business Development, People, Execution, and Mission - as giving a business the processes needed to best satisfy its 5 constituents; namely ‘your company’, ‘your customers’, ‘your team’, ‘your stakeholders’, and ‘your community’.
Sugars views ‘Pulling Profits’ as a deeper dive into how to refocus and identify opportunities that may have been overlooked. As he puts it: “The book is about applying practical solutions not complex formulas.”
One consequence of ‘Pulling Profits…’ is that it has given birth to a new business - Adding Zeros - which focuses executives and mid-size businesses on specific strategies to find exponential growth potential.
Based on his accumulated knowledge Sugars’ advice to franchise partners remains simple: “In today’s marketplace, you have to establish yourself as a leader. Be visible, be active and stay educated and keep learning.”
He adds: “Continue to work on yourself as much as you work with clients. Step out of your comfort zone and find new ways to reach potential audiences and finally, don’t be afraid to fail.
“I stress planning. Planning is critical for success and being able to stay flexible and being able to pivot as the business environment evolves,” he adds.
A believer in ‘straight talking’ and telling people ‘what they need to hear’, NOT ‘what they want to hear’ Sugars is still sufficiently self aware to examine his own leadership qualities; having learnt early on that working on himself was the only way to remain relevant.
He also realises how critical it is to build a competent and confident workforce. “Having a team that runs the day-to-day detail of the business allows me to focus on strategic planning and future growth.”
Unsurprisingly, Sugars sets high standards and holds people accountable. Yet he also rewards those who rise to the top in the organisation and encourages a high level of open and candid communication. Central to this is the company’s ‘14-points of culture’ which define the core values of the Global ActionCOACH brand and community.
Core values or not, evolution remains key - last year’s roll-out of the FIRM model being a case in point. It allows an entrepreneur to grow a Practice of Coaches in a specific geographic location and with exclusive territory rights.
“It is a model that our Master Licensee in the UK has successfully moved to and we feel that the opportunity is huge,” explains Sugars.
“It allows individuals that don’t necessarily want to coach, and who would rather focus on growing a team of coaches, much like a Law Firm or Accounting practice. These business owners will manage the business of coaching instead of practice business coaching,” he says.
Looking ahead, Sugars, unsurprisingly, is quick to extol the virtues (for those who’ve yet to engage with it) of ActionCOACH’s approach.
“By following and applying the fundamental strategies we coach at ActionCOACH this results in more freedom for business owners, not less.
“Indeed, the building blocks put in place allow owners to build better systems, teams and processes, so they don’t get stuck working in the business, but rather help them work on the business for future success,” according to Sugars.
In the meantime, if COVID-19 ends up meaning a semi-permanent ‘new normal’, measures already taken by ActionCOACH ensure it’s well positioned for continued growth.
Sugars’ message is clear: “Business owners that follow our 6 Steps to building a better business learn ways to release the shackles of business ownership and allow them to actually reap the benefits of their entrepreneurial dreams. We help build “commercial profitable enterprises that work without you”.