Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

February 2012

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Every entrepreneur and small business owner can find tremendous value from engaging a strategic business coach. Although there are a variety of reasons one hires a business coach, the bottom line is that the entrepreneur is looking to make a change. Whether it’s to achieve their goals, improve the quality of their business life, boost performance, or accelerate results, it’s evident that what they’re doing is no longer working. (Think Dr. Phil: How’s that workin’ for ya?)

Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with a wide range of entrepreneurs from a variety of business industries and size. Because of our experience, we’ve discovered the entrepreneurs that benefit most from working with a strategic coach are those with the following:

  • a desire to be challenged
  • the love of learning and self-improvement
  • a willingness to work for positive results
  • the ability to learn from mistakes and failures
  • desire for collaborative discussions
  • independent thinkers
  • openness to new ideas and/or ways of thinking
  • display strong leadership in their business
  • ability to follow-through on commitments

Selecting a business coach with experience, expertise, and knowledge is important, as is making sure you and your selected coach are a good fit. However, the most critical factor to achieving your success with strategic business coaching is to make sure you’re ready for it!

Do you agree to do things or go places when you would rather not? Do you attend meetings that have little purpose in your life? Do you say “yes” when you would rather say “no”?

Obligation – the force that fills our lives with appointments, agreements, commitments, and promises all vying for our attention.  Not only is it overwhelming, it’s a huge drain on our energy.

The first strategic coach I engaged for the launch of my strategic coaching firm made an interesting – and amusing – observation of my behavior while discussing the disconnection between my busy calendar and revenue. During a pause in my rapid-fire delivery, she stated “you’re a ‘yes’ waiting to happen”.  What?  I paused to consider her statement. The glaring truth was stunning. She was right!

Can you…? Yes! Will you…Yes! Most of the time, others didn’t need to ask the question. In my momentary exuberance, I volunteered, offered up my time & expertise, and lent a hand. Can you relate?  Are you a “yes waiting to happen?”

If you’re feeling a bit more exhausted these days, review your calendar, commitments, and to-do list. Eliminate those items you feel “obligated” to do. Develop a new habit – say “no” if that’s what you truly desire – regardless of the consequences. You, too, can enjoy the joy of saying “no”.

* most of the time

work life balance

Have you ever experienced that “ah-ha” moment that made you realize that your life really HAD changed?

As a strategic coach, I’ll be the first to admit that years ago, my life was horribly out of balance.  It was one dimensional.  It consisted primarily of my business.  I worked – ate – and slept my occupation.  A medical diagnosis was the catalyst I needed to make some long-overdue changes.

work life balanceI won’t tell you that the inner work required was easy.  I had to take myself kicking and screaming to the depths of change that would have the greatest impact on how I was going to live my life.

The journey, at times, has seemed horribly slow with seemingly few signs of actual change – until that fortunate morning when I realized that the indicator of my accomplishing an improved work/life balance was humorously reflected in my shoe wardrobe.

Imelda Marcos I am not. However, I have noticed that my shoe apparel seems to reflect how far I’ve come in my travels.  Years ago, I essentially owned one type of shoe – the 2″ pump.  Curiously, my foot garb has expanded to reflect my many developing interests in my pursuit for balance.

It now consists of walking sneakers, cushy running shoes, red rubber yard clogs, sleek biking shoes, dusty hiking boots, comfy house slippers, professional loafers, casual clogs, and, oh yes, the 2″ pump. In addition to owning such a variety of footwear – they’re actually getting used!

So, there you have it.  My declaration is complete.

How do you define balance for yourself? What indicators do you use to measure how you’re doing with equilibrium in your life?  Is it time to evaluate your footwear? Don’t let a crisis be the vehicle that takes you shoe shopping!

Nothing is more frustrating for an entrepreneur than the inability to move their business forward. Like walking through quicksand, any movement feels labored and difficult. As a strategic coach, I’ve worked with many small business owners who felt blocked and unable to make the kind of progress they want.  In an attempt to jar themselves loose and uncover the cause of their inertia, they engage in asking ’why’ questions.

Why am I stuck?

Why can’t I seem to move forward?

Why am I feeling this way?”

Why? Why? Why?

“Why” is an attempt to understand underlying motivations which may never be realized. The inability to discover the answers along with immobility result in frustration, anxiety, procrastination, avoidance, and guilt.

A solution to inertia is asking “what” questions which are about movement and activity. When you ask “what”, you create energy and reveal solutions that dislodge the log jam of immobility.  This movement leads to further movement – like a snowball rolling downhill – gather more and more momentum with each revolution.

Consider these “what” questions:

  • What needs to happen?
  • What needs to change in order for me to move forward?
  • What is it going to take to get off square one?
  • What is one action that I’m willing to take right now?
  • What do I want to have happen?
  • What are my other choices?
  • What has worked for me in the past?
  • What is missing for me?

‘Why’ is about understanding; ‘What’ is about action.

What other questions have helped you break your inertia?

Competition – or at least the “perception” of the need to compete – is on the rise as business attempts to increase it’s market share during this sluggish economic recovery.

As an entrepreur, your objective is to move beyond the competition trap to act rather than react to your marketplace. Strategic coaching can help you establish a strong lead for your business.  Consider these options:

  1.  Listen to everything the customer is saying and not saying.  The more you “hear” what customers want and create what they want, the less the competition will matter.
  2. Orient your company around delivering more value than your client expects. Although much has been said and written on delivering great service, a huge gap continues to exist in providing exceptional service to the customer.
  3. Identify what makes you and your product and/or service unique.  “Who” you are – your special gifts and talents – are as important to the process of defining your business as “what” you provide.
  4. Focus on the nature of your business – not just the product or service.  For instance, my virtual assistant is not in the administrative service business, she is in the business of creating time for busy executives. What business are you really in?
  5. Develop non-traditional methods of reaching your market.  Instead of advertising, selling, or responding to orders, begin attracting customers through inbound marketing, meeting with your best customers,  and developing a strong referral program.

True competition really does begin with your business. What other approaches have helped you gain on your competition?

The level of complexity in business is accelerating. Although it’s exhilarating to be an entrepreneur, these mounting complications affect decision-making and, subsequently, business growth. Part of my work as a strategic coach, is to keep fast-paced, overwhelmed entrepreneurs moving through decisions with as much speed and decisiveness as is humanly possible.  Why? The speed at which decisions are made have a direct impact on the growth of the business.

In large part, the increasing complexity of business is due to the rate of information we’re exposed to on any given day.  Did you know information grows at a rate of 66% per year and it continues to climb?  Yikes!  There is nothing else like it.  And, its coming at us like a fire hose that is on wide-open in the form of TV, magazines, videos, DVD’s, blogs, social media….More information means more options which overwhelms the decision-making process and causes costly delays.

The solution to avoid decision making overwhelm? Make a decision – get additional facts – make a better decision – and do it within 3 days.  Decisions delayed longer than three days slows progress and growth of your business.

Entrepreneurs are continually on the hunt for small business ideas to spur business growth.  Most small business owners feel a major innovation will put their business on the fast track. The reality is, in the mad dash to innovate, entrepreneurs overlook seemingly insignificant opportunities that are certain to stimulate business growth.  Daniel Isenberg, Professor of Management Practice at Babson College, has a much more practical small business idea – minnovation! 

Isenberg describes minnovation as mixing small parts of novelty and creativity with huge helpings of flexibility scrappiness and a generous portion of hard-driving execution or, as he more succinctly defined it on the Harvard Business Review Blog, small tweaks and excellent execution. That makes such sense, doesn’t it.

Although fanciful dreams of spearheading the next big innovation the likes of Marc Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, or the late Steve Jobs of Apple linger in the mind of many entrepreneurs, the likelihood of innovation of that magnitude is questionable.  Implementing the principle of minnovation, however, can stimulate a significant growth spurt in your business.

As a strategic coach, I experience the phenomenon of minnovation in action every day. It’s not the major overhaul or substantial innovation that puts a business on the track to growth, it’s the small tweaks that support sustainable business growth. Whether it’s fine-tuning an existing business idea, putting a different spin on a current product or service, upgrading the business model, invigorating marketing practices – the opportunities for minnovation are endless.

Don’t overlook the growth opportunities in your business – become a “minnovator”.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners have many unanswered questions.  Some keep them awake at night, become a distraction during dinner, or remain one of life’s mysteries. As a strategic coach, one of the questions I want to ensure you have answers for is “what topics can I discuss with a strategic coach?”

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Grow revenue
  • Improve performance
  • Enhance productivity
  • Upgrade effectiveness
  • Sharpen skills including qualifying prospects, networking, closing sales, listening
  • Launch new product/service launch
  • Grow profits
  • Invigorate current product/service offering
  • Refine your business concept
  • Update your business model
  • Pricing and/or proper rates
  • Create or refine your strategic plan
  • Lead generation strategies
  • Expand brand awareness and/or market share
  • New client acquisition strategies
  • Develop exit strategy for your business
  • Inbound marketing strategies
  • Organization
  • Reduce stress and/or overwhelm
  • Time and/or Goal management
  • Accountability
  • Develop and/or refine ideal client profile
  • Setting priorities
  • Develop greater clarity and/or focus
  • Improve self-care skills

Each business differs in its challenges and opportunities, which is why a customized approach to strategic coaching is most effective for getting the results you want. You can make the most of your strategic coaching by understanding and communicating your needs, preparing for each coaching appointment, commit to take action, and develop a willingness to do things differently or consider different options.  After all, isn’t that why you hire a coach?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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