Confessions of a Business Coach – Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I shared my story of slowing creeping into the life of a “workaholic” and what a disaster that was for me personally (little family and quiet time) and professionally (I was so exhausted I had to take many months away from my business.) What brought me out of this completely unbalanced way of living was learning how to implement a strong personal foundation.

What is a personal foundation? It is, “a structured basis to support an individual in living an exceptional life*.” I wanted to be an excellent business owner and live an exceptional life. The thought of getting there in a planned fashion was very appealing and I was willing to do the work to get there. There were, however, a couple of mindsets that I needed to change if it was going to work for me.

The first exercise was wrapping my head around the idea that my personal life was my foundation. Unfortunately, I had made my business my foundation and my personal life was supporting it. What I learned was that when you make your business the foundation for your life, you are navigating on pretty thin ground. Many things can happen that can easily and quickly change your business environment. The best approach, is to make your personal life the foundation and setting up your business to support it. For me, this meant learning some extreme time management skills so I was not working all the time and could enjoy my personal life, again.

The next mindset I set out to adjust had to do with my “attractiveness factor.” I will write more on “attractiveness” next month. But for now, and for me, it was getting back to the basics of what brought good, positive things to me instead of me having to go out and find them. For example, the passion that moved me forward to become a business coach was to help other business owners grow their business. But somewhere along the way, the goal became earning money. Now, wanting to earn money is not a bad goal at all. However, I learned that the best goal was to really focus on helping people and the money would come. To accomplish this, I let go of how many clients I had and how much I was billing each month. Instead, I began working toward attracting high-quality, coachable clients and turning away potential clients who were not a good fit for me.

Finally, I had to take better care of myself. You may be thinking that I started eating healthier, exercising more, etc. While those things are very good, taking better care of myself went deeper. I had to learn how to say, “no.” This was very difficult for me – a person who wants to help others. But I had to dig deep and ask myself, “If I say yes to every request for help or assistance, am I doing it for the sake of helping or because I wanted to please people.” Well, you guessed it, the real reason I was doing too much was because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. That was a dangerous mindset and I had to learn to stop and evaluate every request that came my way to make sure I was doing something for the right reasons. While this can still be a challenge for me, I have found it easier to be honest with people about my availability and I am definitely happier and healthier because of it.

What about you? What does your personal foundation look like? Is your business the foundation of your life or does your business support the life you want to live? Are you so focused on earning money that you can’t remember why you began your business in the first place? And are you taking care of yourself by placing healthy boundaries around you and not taking on more than you can easily handle within your set work hours?

If you are struggling with any of the above areas, take some time, today, to do something about it. Identify the challenge, reflect on how you got there, and then make a shift in your mindset to get back to those things (enjoying your life independent of your business, taking better care of yourself and your time, etc.) that were your goals in the beginning. Now you are on your way to developing your own strong personal foundation!

*Coach University – CU 500 – Personal Foundation



Take A Breather – New Beginnings

Happy Winter! If you’re like me, you’re already dreaming about warmer weather. After last winter, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to complain about the upcoming summer heat – and I didn’t! However, the brisk cold we are “enjoying” right now makes me think of more than just the warmth of Spring and Summer, I also think about the promise of new beginnings.

What do new beginnings mean to you? For some, new beginnings are an opportunity to ditch the baggage of the past and move on in their life. For others, it is a time to reflect on what has been working for you and to do more of “that” and less of those things that bring you down. For me, it is a time of implementing new goals while not forgetting the reasons I do what I do each day.

As you read the main article this month, Confessions of a Business Coach, Part 2, I want you to    consider what implementing a strong personal foundation would look and feel like for you.  If you would like more information on developing your personal foundation, reach out to me and I will be pleased to assist!

Think Spring but keep that warm coat nearby!  Thanks!

Why Should They Buy From You (Part 2)

So – if you and the business is the product, what are you selling?

To illustrate – Sam or Sally consumer can purchase a greeting card (merchandise or service) from you or someone else.  HOWEVER, they are only able to have the pleasure of doing business with you when they walk into your business.

Think about it.  If you and the person down the street, sell the same merchandise or service, how does the consumer decide who gets his or her business?

The answer is that you must set yourself and your business apart from others similar.

How do you do that?  You could have an extra clean store or office, have brighter display lights, offer great customer service, or more parking spaces.  But wait – the business down the street just changed their light bulbs and put fresh magazines out to read.  Now they are competing with you!

Here, in this blog, I offer you a simple, yet effective, secret weapon. Are you ready?  Exceed your customer’s expectations.  At minimum, always meet them.

Have you heard the story of the woman who said to her husband, one morning, “do you love me?”  The husband responds, “Of course.  I told you I loved you on our wedding day and if that ever changes, I’ll let you know.”

Tell your customers you love and appreciate them by considering what their expectations of you may be and developing a plan to meet and exceed them every time.

Why Should They Buy from You?

If you are a small business owner reading this material, I am sure that you will agree with me that operating your own business is an exciting and eye-opening experience.

Besides the day-to-day operations and the monetary responsibilities, it is important to have a clear understanding of your product.

If I were to ask the average small business owner what his or her product is, I would most likely get the following reply, “my product is greeting cards (or insurance, car repair, image consulting, etc.)  Let us take a moment and digest this answer.  If your product is greeting cards, then what are you selling?

OK – I am sure that I have you completely confused.  Let me explain.

In business, your product and item for consumption (merchandise or service) are different.  Your item for consumption is what the consumer actually purchases from you.  The product is you and your business.

Well, What Did You Expect? Part 2

Back to the question I wanted to ask you.  Have customers ever left your business needing to “vent” about unsatisfactory service or unmet expectations?  If you cannot answer this question with the knowledge that 100% of your customers are completely satisfied and you have met or exceeded their expectations, you may have some work to do.

The first step I recommend a business owner take in putting together their customer-satisfaction program is to implement a satisfaction system.  Moreover, within your customer-satisfaction system, develop processes that cover every aspect of your business that “touches” the consumer.

For example, an auto repair shop might put together a checklist of items they want to make sure are taken care of (like wiping down the interior and cleaning the inside of the driver’s door) before returning a car to the owner.  In addition, they may create and send a satisfaction survey as well as develop a process for getting to know and staying in touch with the customer.

With regard to my auto repair experience, that dealership will get no more money from me.  Thankfully, based on a referral from a satisfied customer, I found an independent repair shop that has a great system in place and uses processes that lead to customer satisfaction.  Not only will they continue to receive my business, but gain referrals as well. Their focus on customer satisfaction has become a competitive advantage for them. Can you say the same for your business?

Well, What Did You Expect?

In keeping with the “at least meeting and always trying to exceed customer expectations” theme, I would like to touch on the service aspect of the concept.  The following is a true story with which I am sure many of you can relate.

For the last few months, I have had to take my car into the dealership for work.  One would think that the dealer’s repair service would include some customer satisfaction elements.  In other words, I had some expectations of my service experience.

My first expectation was that my vehicle would be ready when they said it would. Of the six-plus visits, all but two resulted in the dealership, without warning, keeping my car overnight.

My second expectation was that they were going to fix the problem they identified. Multiple attempts failed to correct the problem.  OK, I do realize that vehicles today are much more complex than 20 years ago.  However, the last dealership diagnosis centered on replacing the engine computer because “that should fix everything.” (What? This was like telling me I needed a liver transplant because my cholesterol was elevated!)

The last expectation focused on the condition of my car when I picked it up. I expected that my car would be returned in a condition equal to or better than the condition in which it was dropped off.  However, my light-colored interior was routinely covered in grease smudges, dirty shoe marks on the bottom of the driver’s door, and other untidy infractions. This forced me to go back inside and ask my service tech to please wipe down the mess (for the umpteenth time!)

Thank you for letting me vent – my husband thanks you as well.

Now, let me ask you a question….

Part two coming soon.