When we start a business, it’s usually because we have a special talent for a particular service or a deep knowledge about a particular product. We may have observed other businesses doing things badly and are convinced that we could do things so much better, so we put our money where our mouths are and take the plunge.
But when it comes to running a business, simply being an expert in your field isn’t enough to succeed. Just over half of all startups fail before they get to the five-year mark; 70% of VAT-registered businesses don’t trade for longer than 10 years. But it’s not because they’re not good at what they do: 80% of these failures are due to bad cashflow management. When you set up a business, you don’t just need to know a lot about what you’re good at – you have to know a little about every aspect of operations. But we all have our limits and the trick is knowing where yours are.
That’s where coaching comes in. A good business coach or mentor can help you to look at the bigger picture and answer the fundamental questions you need to ask to get up and running. How do you take your product to market? Where can you access funding? How do you establish appropriate financial management procedures? A business coach can help you to establish the processes and procedures that will ensure your success.
As soon as your business moves from being an idea to an operating entity, you need to acknowledge that you can’t do everything yourself and accept help. When a company is in its infancy, the business owner will be the main point of contact for everyone and everything within that business. Take away that lynchpin and the business will collapse because there’s nothing else supporting it. With the help of a coach – a seasoned expert with years of relevant experience – you can start as you mean to go on and build the support that will maintain your growth.
In order to continue to grow and progress, you need to move yourself – the business owner – to a place where you’re in control, rather than controlling. Appoint people who share your values, delegate the tasks that they’re skilled in and manage them from a distance. If you can’t – or won’t – do all of those things, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Of course, it’s not easy to let go of your baby – to hand over the running of essential operations to someone who wasn’t there to witness the birth and the early years. But that’s exactly why a fresh pair of eyes and advice from an impartial observer can help you to make the right decisions.
A good coach will very quickly stop being a business advisor and swiftly move into the role of business therapist or counsellor. They’ll help you to identify the values and ethics of your business and ensure that you surround yourself with people who support those values. Because for a business to succeed, you need to be very clear about the things it stands for. A piece of software is a piece of software; your clients are buying the service that comes with it. They’re buying the benefits of dealing with you and the unique elements that attracted them to you over your competitors. A coach can help you to identify what those values are and appoint a team that understands and appreciates them.
And, as you grow, a coach is on hand to recognise the changes that are taking place and make sure you have procedures in place to be able to deal with them. We may strive for growth but without processes in place to facilitate it, it can sometimes do more harm than good.
Of course, there are risks involved in any business but a trusted coach can help you to turn those risks into a managed process. With a proper plan, structure and the right team, you can concentrate on doing what you do best – which is exactly why you went into business in the first place.”Business Doctors, the SME-consultancy franchise.