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

“Life’s a Beach.”  Have you heard that expression before?  Most of us will take the word, “beach” and substitute it with another word that has a negative connotation.  This month, let me encourage you to take the word, “beach” and think of being at the shore or, if you’re not a water-lover, someplace else that makes you relaxed and happy.  Why?  Because if you’re always thinking about your work, what you have to DO next or who you need to please, stress takes the place of “relax” and you may become a “beach” (or the like for the guys!)

This month’s feature article titled, “Confessions of a Business Coach” is the first part of a two part series.  It is my own story of how I went from being an over-worked and over-whelmed entrepreneur to discovering the benefits of work/life balance.  In addition, don’t miss my Top Time Management Tips – they’re beneficial for any and all.

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Confessions of a Business Coach

I was thrilled when I signed my first coaching client.  After months of presenting my new coaching services to networking groups and business associates, my hard work finally paid off.  I was employed.  The new found confidence I had in myself and my business was quite infectious.  Before long, I had several new clients, moved from my home-office to a “big girl” office in the city and had money to spend.

Exactly one-year after I began my coaching business, my husband came home and told me we were moving to another state.  “Yikes!”  “Another state?”  And, on top of that, the other state was so far away it felt like we were moving to another planet.  I finally had my dream business and I did not want to shut it down just because I was moving away.  So, I got “smart.”  I negotiated a deal with my clients that I would meet face-to-face with them the first two weeks of each month and the third week we would coach over the telephone. They all agreed and I began driving back and forth between the two states (868 miles) every two weeks.

I kept up that arrangement for nine months.  It was in that last month I realized that I could not run my business that way any longer.  When I was in town with my clients, I routinely worked from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm every day.  I was exhausted, not growing my business, neglecting my friends and family and generally not taking care of myself.  I began daydreaming about quitting it all and going back to a quieter, gentler life…

At the end of the ninth month, my husband and I moved my office back to the home in our new state.  Because my clients were used to meeting face-to-face, only a few wanted to continue coaching strictly by telephone.  The good news was that I had worked with them long enough to see them through tremendous growth and most were ready to “fly” on their own.  The bad news was that I felt like a big failure; I had to practically start over with my business and was exhausted physically and mentally.  It was at that point I discovered the importance of developing 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…

Stay tuned next month for Part 2 of Confessions of a Business Coach.

*Coach University – CU 500 – Personal Foundation

Understanding Your Audience (Part 4)

Okay, it’s been a month since my last post – so let’s get caught up.  We have been talking about marketing to the right audience especially when it comes to the generation in which they belong.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1.       Which generation(s) is your target market?

2.       Why are they your target market?

3.       How does your generation “find” you?

4.       How do you find them?

Never assume that “everyone” is your audience and never assume that you can reach everyone in the same way.  There are many, many ways to market and we will have fun exploring them over the next several weeks!

Understanding Your Audience (Part 3)

Last week, we looked at the Traditionalist and Baby Boomer Generations and what was important to them.  Keep these differences in mind when marketing to each group. For example, Youthfulness is important to Baby Boomers.  With this in mind, think of all the commercials you see that target the 50+ age group with health and beauty products, surgical and non-surgical procedures and diets…

And now, the next two groups of the consumer buying population:

Generation X (born 1964-1978)

This generation’s core values are:

A.  Independence

B.  Competence

C.  Results-driven

D.  Work/life balance

E.  Wants someone to “get to the point!”

F.  Can also be flexible and adaptive

In addition:

1.  They are deadline and goal oriented

2.  Appreciates feedback

3.  They like to have fun at their job and other activities

4.  They like up-to-date tools

5.  They choose a career for personal interest

6.  They want to be trusted

7.  They want to be shown respect

Millennial’s (born 1978-2000)

This generation’s core values are:

A.  Confidence

B.  Collaboration

C.  Talent

D.  Optimism

E.  Civic-mindedness

F.  Innovation

G.  Learning new skills

In addition:

1.   They place great emphasis on new skills

2.   They love diversity (lots of different perspectives)

3.   Likes to be mentored and coached

4.   Their work needs to have meaning

5.   Wants expectations made clear

6.   They need immediate feedback and ask for input

7.   They want others to be flexible

8.   They must have up-to-date tools (technology)

9.   They like situations that are more informal

10. They want information on demand

11. They love a challenge

12. They want to be shown respect

I hope you noticed that one of the things that is important to each generation is that, “They want to be shown respect.”  More later…

Understanding Your Audience (Part 2)

One of the most important things to consider when marketing your merchandise or service is your target audience’s age group.  For example, if you have a business that converts a standard bathtub into one that is a walk-in, your audience will not be 20 or 30-somethings.  However, you may market directly to an audience that is more mature or their children (possibly in their 40’s and 50’s) who may share this information with an elderly parent.

Below you will find two generations that are more mature in age:

Traditionalist (Born prior to 1946)

This generation’s core values are:

A.  Loyalty

B.  Dedication

C.  Sacrifice

D.  Respecter of Authority

E.  Compliance

F.  Hard-working

G.  Thriftiness and savings

In addition:

1.  Likes “that personal touch”

2.  They place an emphasis on security

3.  Gentle change is best for them

4.  Age = Authority

5.  Approaches new ideas with caution

6.  They want to be shown respect

Baby Boomer Generation (Born 1946-1964)

This generation’s core values are:

A.  Personal growth

B.  Youthfulness

C.  Equality

D.  Competition

E.  Reform

F.  Status

G.  Accomplishment

H.  Political correctness

I.  Ambition

In addition:

1.  Wants to know what you think

2.  Likes to follow the crowd

3.  Began the “politically correct” movement

4.  Within a marriage, both spouses generally work(ed)

5.  They like recognition

6.  They want to be shown respect

In my next posting, we will look at the core value of Generation X and the Millennial’s (or Gen. Y).  Stay tuned!

Don’t Blow Your Marketing Opportunities!

In my last blog, I mentioned the home theater business owner and how he or she is marketing by networking and meeting people at events.  I do want you to consider the possibility that this business owner did not make a good impression on you or others in the group.  This action could set back good marketing efforts tremendously.

What might the result be of making a poor impression on someone you have just met with regard to your business?

Remember, it is difficult to recover from making a bad impression and you will rarely receive a second chance to do so.  Do not forget that you and your business are the product and the marketing of each is crucial to your business success.

The Beauty of Marketing (Part 2)

Let us say that you are interested in having a home theater set-up installed in your family room or den.  You belong to a networking group or have met someone at a Chamber of Commerce meeting who owns a company that offers this type of service.  Would your first thought be to contact this person, whom you have met and maybe had a conversation with, or to search on-line or in the telephone book for someone?

Most people will answer this question affirming that they would first contact the person they know.  Why?  They have:

1.   Met him or her personally

2.   Shook his or her hand

3.   Looked in his or her eyes while speaking with them

4.   Listened to a brief description of his or her business

5.   Watched how others in the group reacted to this person

6.   Possibly heard how they serviced someone else in the group

7.   May have had an opportunity to ask questions and gather information and specifics about the nature of the business

Think of every time you meet someone and he or she has asked you what you do (referring to your work.)  This could be many personal “hits” and marketing at its best.

The Beauty of Marketing

I was a part of a group comprised of entrepreneurs and C-level executives.  We met one morning each week and shared our ideas and thoughts on a particular topic.  Before we began the meeting, we would go around the table and announce our name, the name of our business and our business focus. This was marketing.  As the meeting began, the owner of the group shared his thoughts on the topic and then called on a member of the group to briefly share his or her thoughts.  He then called on another person, and so on.  This is marketing.

Just being in the presence of other people who could be potential clients or who could refer business to me and having the opportunity to tell them who I am and what I do is an intimate form of marketing.  As I got to know them better, we marketed to each other, one-on-one.

What is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

Many business owners comment back that marketing and advertising are the same thing, that they both have to do with buying print ads, running commercials on the radio or television or having a presence on a billboard.  What do you think?

Advertising is one component of marketing.  Marketing is the “big picture”.  Advertising is transmitted to the masses; you are not sure who is exposed to your message.  Even though marketing is the “big picture”, it is personal, can be intimate and generally one-to-one.