Learn, Share, Grow
How do you describe your business?
I describe my business as business coaching and development for business owners. Even as I say that, I am aware that "coaching" as a term is very over-used and yet little understood. And of course each coach is different, and that's important for clients to know. It also means that it is good to think about what it is that you are looking for, as you find help in your business. It might be that there is more help than you thought possible. Finding it, that can be tricky!
How did you come to be in your business?
I was working with a life insurance agency and managing and training agents, overseeing the telemarketing and creating client service programs. We marketed only to self-employed people, business owners and professionals and I realised that while they were putting everything on the line for their business, their advisors; legal, accounting, insurance, etc, were not really helping them to understand their position well, and definitely not working together to provide a cohesive service on which the business owner could rely.
Typically they would expect that their advisors would tell them if they needed something in their business, but I knew that in most cases that didn't happen. The advisors don't work together, and their focus is not on the same result. Many don't know enough about the overall picture of the business (even when they should!) and if they aren't getting a fee, or commission for it, they don't want to know.
So this seemed to be an area that interested me, that was crying out for a service to fill in the gaps and put the business owner back in control of things.
What are the three best things about doing the work that you do?
The people. They are amazing. Truly, anyone going into business has to be a little mad. Or passionate. Maybe both. Unfortunately passion will get the door open, but it won't keep the door from closing if you don't get things right.
The variety. I get to work with clients on the things that are their passion and that's fantastic. One day it might be reviewing the practices in the business, auditing what works; what isn't working so well; finding the gaps that need to be filled in what the business is doing. Another day it might be planning a strategy for the next five years and drawing out the vision of the business owner so that others can understand the goals, and share in making it happen. Other days it might be reviewing the internet strategy, and liaising with the technical people hired to do that job - and making sure they are held to account, and that all the areas that need to be covered, have been addressed adequately, and in the best way.
Autonomy. I can choose with whom I want to work and when I want to work. I can work with people in any location, and that means I can be free to plan the life that I want to live too. And it means that I can be congruent with my values. Frankly it also allows me to do what I do best. Find the heart of the matter, place the steps there to solve the presenting dilemma, and not get bogged-down in the day-to-day work, which is what prevents so many business owners from working at a strategic level.
A good part of my work involves 'pulling them out' of the business, so they can see it from a new perspective, and appreciate the view from a big-picture position. I can't tell you how important that is for a business owner to really 'get'.
What has been your biggest frustration in creating your business?
The single biggest frustration for me... is not knowing Who needs the help now, and is ready finally to do what it takes to make changes. I wish I had the magic that the Tooth Fairy enjoys, being able to tell which child has lost a tooth. Unfortunately I don't have a talent for magic or crystal ball reading. When they need it, the business owner won't necessarily think to find help. Many don't know it is possible, and if they did, they may be paralysed with indecision because they are overwhelmed and probably won't know how to find the help that they need - they may not even quite know 'what is wrong'. Just that they are struggling.
One of the things that I identified in working with small business owners in the insurance field was this. It can be terribly lonely running your own business. You can't (you should never) be complaining to your employees about your frustrations in the business or financial woes. The truth is nobody cares about your business like you do.
When I work with a client, I sometimes describe it is like 'renting them a room in my head' and their business worry, becomes mine too. Unlike them, I have the luxury to focus on solutions, and the time away from the business to see how they will fit into the bigger context.
Identifying the business owner who can use my service, is probably best done by someone they trust who knows their business and is able to see when they are being frustrated, or facing issues that they are not equipped to handle with their current skillset.
So referrals are the best way to find a prospective client. The other side of that, is that business owners are used to being in a position of power and some are frankly difficult to deal with. That in itself isn't necessarily a problem, unless they continue to act in a way that results in them sabotaging their own outcomes during coaching. There is no benefit to that and clients do themself a disservice, if they enter into a coaching arrangement and then fall down on their commitments to their own agenda.
How do you view the question of spending time working on your business... as distinct from working in the business?
Yes I may need a coach for that too! It is a trap that we can all fall into, and working on the business is a focus for me, but like any single operator, the other trap can be trying to 'do it all myself'. Working with clients is rewarding, and it can take a lot of energy. That's fine, but all the 'other stuff' still needs to get done.
What has been the biggest change that you've seen in your market since you started your business?
Without question, the internet has changed the face of business. Unfortunately, many conventional-business owners don't fully realise what that means to them. It is not good enough to have a good business.
Customers need to be able to find out about it and that means you need to make it available to them when they want it where they want it. That's online and that is getting more important by the day.
Where do you see the trends for your line of business in the next 5 years, and what do you foresee as opportunities and threats?
I'd like to see it happen that a business assumes that their line-up of outside advisors will include their business coach, just as they now expect to have a lawyer, and a CPA.
Will this happen? It is hard to say. I see more technology becoming available to help with the coaching for business compliance issues streamlining that aspect of our work, and that would open up more time and resources for focusing on strategy, vision and expanding business opportunities for the client.
Of course that is always going to depend on the nature and ambitions of the client.
The threat I see, is perhaps in the wide variation of skills in people promoting business coaching, and it disturbs me to meet with people who promote themselves as business coaches, but on speaking to them, don't actually work on business issues with clients. I am still trying to work that one out... And no, I don't see regulation as being a cure for this. Far from it. Business coaching is about business AND about people. I'm yet to be convinced, you don't need skills in both areas.
Who has been your greatest role model, and what lessons have you learned from them that you've taken into the way you do business?
Probably my father. I credit him with being my first teacher of NLP. Of course there was no such thing as NLP then, but without the name, the tools which turn up in NLP were tools that I learned from him. Personal challenge. Discipline of thought. Overcoming a bad situation using your head. Noticing what's around you. And of course I have studied NLP for years and that becomes ingrained, and is I suppose, based on role models, since the whole business of NLP is around modelling excellence.
One thing that I loved about learning NLP was to learn that we have a strategy for everything we do. Some have a good strategy for some things, others, not so much. The beauty of that? If your strategy at something isn't doing very well, you can find a better one and model someone who is really good at doing that thing. Borrow a better strategy. That is a powerful thing to know. Very empowering.
What is it that you believe, sets you and your business apart from others in your industry?
Much as I love systems, my own approach to coaching is to raise the skills and understanding that clients have in their approach to their business. My coaching is tailored to the outcomes the client wants to achieve, but also to their personality and personal style preferences.
While coaching is at one level about the business, really the business is a means to an end. The client's life is what interests me, and getting the business right is just a part of letting them create the life they want. That's what I love about it. Some coaching franchises are run like a sausage factory, and that's definitely not how I work with business owners.
Working in a relationship like this can be quite confronting for clients from time to time. My belief is that our time together should be something that enriches them and stretches their personal skills and capacities far beyond the tasks that we might work through during our time together. I'd like to think that I am encouraging clients to be more than they dreamed possible. Do more than they dared to think they could achieve.
If there were one thing that customers believed about your business, what would you most like it to be?
That's it's been a valuable experience, and they want to continue as required into the future as their opportunities unfold and they meet even bigger challenges.
Find Lindy here Lindy Asimus Business Coach WebsiteDesign Business Engineering Business Coaching