T.A.B #22 Seven Truths Pt.2 – More Essential Lessons I’ve Discovered From My Guests So Far.
In today’s episode I share seven more key “truths” that I’ve collected from spending countless hours over the last ten weeks talking with and listening to inspirational business champions.
These brilliant entrepreneurs and business owners have faced up to the insurmountable odds that are stacked against all of us when starting out for ourselves and have gone on to build fantastic businesses of all shapes and sizes.
For those of you who are thinking of starting out in business, I hope that this serves as useful information that may better prepare you for what’s to come.
And for those already in business, I’d like to think that there are some useful reminders of important fundamentals that we could all do with a refresher on every now and again.
I’d like to take a moment to say a huge “Thank you” to all of the guests who have featured on the show so far, it has been an amazing experience and I’m truly humbled that you’ve all been prepared to put aside some time and share your stories so honestly.
You know, success leaves footprints
So, let’s take a walk with my last ten brilliant guests and extract some key business truths…
Click the play button below to stream the episode live and get ready for “The Truth About Business” or scroll down for the full article:
SEVEN TRUTHS PT.2:
Business Truth No.1 – Build Solid Foundations
No matter if you’re building a small retirement bungalow or a cloud piercing sky scraper, the first and perhaps most important part of the process is to build strong foundations that will stand the test of time and keep the structure standing firm against the harshest of weather conditions.
It looks like the same goes for building a successful business.
Investing time in getting the foundations right for your business early on means that regardless of how large and how quickly you grow, these foundations will help your business to keep its original identity instead of taking on a life of its own and becoming something that you didn’t intend, nor want, it to.
Three of the core ingredients of your business foundations are your vision, your values and your purpose.
Now I doubt that there’s many of you reading that haven’t heard of these three terms.
BUT… what will differ is the importance you assign to them based on the experience, or lack of experience, you’ve had with them in the businesses that you’ve been a part of so far.
For many, these terms are nothing but business “fluff” that can be seen attached to the walls of the head office to impress outside visitors.
But venture one layer beneath the top brass and talk to the employees who are on the front line living the business each day and they have no idea what they are, or more importantly, what they mean.
However, when you’ve seen businesses that take these principles very seriously and the results that getting them right bring about, you can’t help but respect the power of them IF (and it’s a big if) executed properly and if they truly become a part of the DNA of the whole organisation.
Take Susan Hallam for example.
Susan and the team at Hallam have built one of the most successful digital marketing agencies in the country and they’re internationally recognised as leaders in their field.
In our interview Susan attributed a large part of the ongoing success of the company to what she calls her “North Star” – which are the guiding principles that the business, and everyone within it, has stayed true to since the very first day of launching Hallam.
So why are they so important and how do you use them?
So, let’s start with the “Vision”.
Your vision for the business is where you see it in 5, 10, 15 years’ time.
It’s like a long-term goal of what you want the business to look like, the type of people you want to be working with, the awards you’ve won, how it feels to be a customer, the turnover you’re generating, the profit you’re making, how much your staff are paid, the positions you have in the business – it can be anything.
It might be, and should be, a million miles away from where you are now but it gives you and the whole business something to aim towards and to commit to.
It’s impossible to hit a target that’s not there.
And like most things in life, if you don’t have a target, a pinpointed destination or outcome that you want to achieve, you end up treading water – no matter how hard you work or how many hours you put in.
When the business has a clear sense of direction, it makes it much easier for the whole team to align and when business decisions revolve around getting to a defined destination, you start to see progress – like watching a huge cruise ship pull away from the port and start moving.
Maybe at less than walking pace, but making progress nonetheless towards its tropical location.
Everyone in the business knows what they’re working towards and if you’ve done it right, everyone knows what’s in it for them (a massively important part of the process) so the team are fired up and excited about helping the business to get there and they’re in it for the long run which makes retention of great people less of an issue.
Having a clear vision also helps to attract better candidates when you might not be able to pay as much as your longer established competitors that may be able to offer better salaries.
When you can communicate a compelling vision to a potential candidate that excites them and they know they can be a valuable part of, that’s worth more than money to a lot of people as it gives them a clear purpose in life, other than just getting up and going to “work”.
Most of us want to be a part of something special and there are many people out there who will chose to work for a company with drive and ambition where things will work out for them better in the long-term and they actually enjoy what they’re doing, versus joining a company that pays more, but ultimately, all you have is a job and no idea of where the company is going and what your involvement is in that.
Which would you rather be a part of?
And the most exciting part about creating your vision, well I’ll leave it to a well-known quote from the infamous Napoleon Hill;
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”
OK, so next is creating your company’s “purpose”.
This concept has gained a lot of notoriety over the last few years due to the wildly popular book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek – a book that many of my guests have referenced in their interviews.
Whilst I personally don’t put as much emphasis as Sinek does in your company’s “why” as being THE number one ingredient, I do agree that it’s an important part of a winning combination and can be a powerful force if utilised properly.
Your “purpose” or your “why” usually heralds back to the origins of your business and is the deeper reason that you started in the first place, which is why it’s easier to get this down on paper in the early stages when that purpose is still fresh in mind instead of trying to get the business to fit a new version of your “why” later on.
It’s not your brand promise or what you deliver to your customers.
Instead it’s the deeper reason your business exists to provide this service – which for most of us is going to revolve around enhancing or making your customers’ life easier in one way or another – your product or service is the means to the end.
Once you’ve settled on your purpose, everything your company does revolves around bringing it to life and delivering on the purpose is how you move towards your vision for the business.
Even if your strategy or tactics change over the years, sticking to your purpose is how you build a business that stays true to its origins which is a surprisingly common feature in many companies of all shapes and sizes that have stood the test of time.
Here’s a couple of examples of company purposes, and as you’ll see some of them pay no attention to the actual product or service the company provides, it’s their higher calling:
IKEA – “To create a better everyday life for the many people”
LG – “To spread the power of optimism”
Tesla – “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”
Starbucks – “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”
Nike – “Our purpose is to unite the world through sport to create a healthy planet, active communities and an equal playing field for all”
So, you might be thinking, “OK, well it might be nice to have some fancy paragraph about saving the world to impress potential new recruits and customers – but what difference does it actually make to the business?”
Here’s an example.
Let’s say we have two estate agencies.
Agent A’s purpose is to simply “sell houses”
Agent B’s purpose on the other hand is to “help people to start the next chapter of their life in the best possible way”
Agent A hasn’t put the time into creating their purpose and so team members are left to come to their own assumptions about what they’re there for – selling people’s houses.
To them, it’s just a job.
Agent B however has really etched their purpose into the DNA of the business.
New recruits are told about it, it’s part of their new starter training, it’s talked about in the office, it’s talked about in team meets, it’s talked about in appraisals and one-to-ones and everybody that’s a part of the business knows what they’re here to do and the difference they’re making to people’s lives on a daily basis.
To them, it’s more than just a “job”.
Now imagine the difference in how these two agencies operate and how it feels to be a customer.
Whilst they may be in essence providing a similar service, the way in which that service is delivered is going to be worlds apart.
Who do you think has the better reputation?
Who do you think receives more five-star reviews?
Who do you think the top performing staff want to work for?
And ultimately, who do you think customers are happy to pay more money to?
What you might find is that in industries where it’s very difficult to come up with a clear differentiator from your competition, having a strong “purpose” that runs deep through the business could be all you need to set you a million miles apart.
And so to summarise the value in having a clearly defined and powerful company purpose, I’ll refer back to a quote from the previously mentioned author, Simon Sinek;
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”
The final part of these business foundations are your company values.
I expect that for many listeners, when they hear this phrase, you think of empty and meaningless “business” words.
The same sort of words that teams on “The Apprentice” usually end up calling themselves – think “synergy”, “stealth” or “velocity”.
I have no doubt that it many companies, this is the case.
However, what a clear and well communicated set of company values should do is define the type of people you want in your business, the way in which you expect everyone in the business (including you, the business owner) to behave and help you to create a strong company culture, instead of have the company create it for you.
So how do you use company values?
Well first of all, you use them to recruit like-minded people who are all working together, rowing the ship in the same direction to reach a shared goal.
You talk about them in your job adverts and in your interviews to find people who resonate amd allign with the values of your company.
You use them in performance management – in appraisals and one to ones and stack up how team members are performing against the values and if they need to make any behavioural changes.
This is where company values can be particularly useful.
It’s easy to assess someone’s performance.
They have targets – have they hit them?
Providing you have the correct KPIs and reporting systems in place, that should be clear as day to both parties.
It’s a clear-cut case
However, to call out someone’s behaviour and hold them to account when you have nothing to benchmark it against is difficult.
That changes when you have company values.
They become your benchmarks for behaviour and if people aren’t acting accordingly, they’re dealt with in the same way as if they weren’t hitting their sales targets or whatever other KPIs you have in place.
And in the worst-case scenario, if a member of the team is not pulling their weight in either area, a clear set of KPIs and company values should mean that you never have to fire anyone – which is a terrible experience for both sides.
If done correctly, the person in question will either step their game up and fall into line, or realise that they’re not the right fit for the and leave of their own accord.
But you can also use them to motivate, engage and bring your team together by having values “champions” – getting each person to nominate someone each month, quarter or even year who they feel has shown a noteworthy display of one of the values and provide them with an award and a small gesture of appreciation.
It goes a long way.
They allow you to empower staff to make good decisions without having to ask you for guidance, freeing you up to spend more time working on the business because instead of making decisions for everyone, the conversation now becomes “As long as your decision is in line with the company values, I trust you to make that decision for yourself.”
Ultimately, when you have a clearly defined and well communicated set of company values with visual aids throughout the business and a commitment to make decisions in line with them at all levels, you’ll build an amazing culture of like-minded people who love what they do and push you and the business towards your goals, instead of you having to pull them – as Steve Gandy of Circle Business Coaching talked about in his interview.
So, there you have you core business foundations.
Your vision, your purpose and your values and all of them feed in to one another.
Now if you’re anything like me, you might be thinking at this point;
“OK, I get all that and it sounds great on paper but ultimately, will it generate any more business and will it help me to grow faster than I would without them?”
It’s a question I have pondered for many years, even after trialling and experimenting myself.
However, just recently I was honoured to be able to spend a couple of hours with Stewart Vandermark who is the CEO of Nelsons.
They’re one of the largest and most successful law firms in the Midlands with offices in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
They’ve won more awards and accolades than you can shake a stick at and are fast approaching a turnover of £20 million with some huge plans for the future.
Stewart took on the role of CEO in 2017 and since then, with the support of the original founders of the business and senior leaders, he has led on ongoing campaign to drive all of the above into the business.
What really took me by surprise, again we’re talking about a law firm here, was when Stewart pulled out of his jacket pocket a small booklet with “Our Vision” on the front and a Nelson logo.
Inside the booklet, the vision, their why, their values, their goals – it’s all in print, crystal clear and easy to understand.
Every single person in the business receives one of these booklets when they first join so they know exactly what they’re a part of and where they’re heading.
And does it make a difference?
Well to start off with, their primary brand colour is bright orange.
At Nottingham, you walk into an amazing, modern reception with receptionists in smart, brand coloured uniforms and there’s even a no-expense spared staff area for the team to get themselves a drink, or just work in peace in some cosy chairs.
I asked Stewart the same question;
“It looks amazing but does it make a difference?”
His answer was unequivocally “Yes”.
After plateauing at the same (still impressive and healthy) turnover for a few years in a row, this whole project has seen the business really start to power forward and back on to some serious growth.
And it’s not down to adding new services or bringing in better people, it’s down to getting the right people in the right place and then getting the most out of everyone through a team that are far more engaged and working towards a common objective.
And given that Stewart was only last year named as the top company leader in the East Midlands, I think it’s safe to say that this stuff really does work.
Now if you get these set early on, it’s far easier to build the business with these foundations already laid, rather than having to try and change the business later on down the line when you might have people already in your team that don’t quite fit.
It’s not that you can’t do it later, you absolutely can and I don’t think it’s ever too late to start but you should expect some level of disruption because let’s face it, most of us aren’t comfortable with change.
You should also expect that some people may decide to leave after realising that they’re no longer right for the business – or you may have to make that decision for them.
That’s almost par for the course when bringing in these things at a later stage in the business cycle so be prepared for that to happen – it’s short term pain but it will be far better for the good of the business moving forwards when you replace those who no longer fit with the values and culture of your company with people who do.
Before we wrap up this first business truth, I just want to leave you with a couple of pointers.
Firstly, this is not a “set it and forget it” exercise.
If you’re going to implement this, you have to fully commit and that means from now on, every single day you’re in the business, talking passionately and enthusiastically about these foundations so it’s front of mind for everyone and doesn’t get lost and forgotten about in the heat of battle.
It might feel awkward to begin with, but most new things do – and it’s not something people will be familiar with from previous employers.
But your team will follow as you lead and if you’re not talking about it constantly and taking it seriously, no-one else will.
And if you’re worried about sounding like you’re repeating yourself – you know you’re doing it properly.
There’s a section about the importance of constant reinforcement of these company foundations in the great business blueprint of a book that is “Scaling Up – Rockefeller Habits 2.0” by Verne Harnish.
It talks about how Hatim Tyabji built Verifone from $31 million to $600 million in 11 years.
He created a “blue book” (similar to the Nelsons “Vision” booklet) which outlined the values at the heart of Verifone’s culture and translated it into eight languages.
Tyabji attributes a large part of his success to spending the next eleven years “repeating himself”, as he himself put it.
Secondly, if you’re going to hold your team to account on a set of company values, you better be sure that you’re living and breathing them too because if they don’t see you acting in line with them, they’ll see no reason for them and it sabotages the whole process.
Your company values don’t HAVE to be your own personal values – but if you expect your team to buy into them, you have no option but to be an exemplary example of them so don’t set a company value that you find difficult to adhere to.
Nobody is going to get it right all the time, which is fine,.
Encourage a relationship with your team where they’re comfortable with being called out on the values, but equally, you’re happy for them to do the same with you.
And finally, it’s important that these values are clearly defined.
What exactly do you mean by “Team”?
What exactly do you mean by “Growth”?
Don’t let there be any ambiguity around what these company values actually mean and give some examples of the type of behaviour or value in action.
A great idea as suggested by Andrew Deighton of AWD Development Solutions is to let your team come up with some guidelines for how they should behave.
When your team comes up with the ideas, they’re far more likely to take ownership and have more pride in what they’ve created.
Which means it’s more likely to happen.
And so, to bring to an end my first business truth, which is to build solid foundations, I’ll end with a quote from Elvis Presley, who said;
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same but you leave them over everything you do”
Business Truth No.2 – Focus On Your People.
Throughout the last series of interviews with my featured business owners and entrepreneurs there were a number of clear, recurring concepts, principles and insights that were a key focus for many of my guests.
Perhaps the one that stood out the most for me, and I was quite surprised at how seriously businesses of all shapes, ages and sizes took it, was the importance of focusing on your people.
Like finding your “why”, building an “engaged” team has become a buzzword word in the business world and whilst many business owners and corporations boast of being aware of the concept, you tend to find that few are actually implementing it well.
As a business owner it’s all too easy to spend your days looking for new opportunities, arranging and attending sales meetings, budgeting, planning, strategising, improving, automating, negotiating with suppliers – and that’s not to mention the relentless firefighting of urgent tasks that appear from nowhere on a daily basis.
It’s all to easy to find yourself spending days on end, locked away in your office or out travelling on the road without coming in to contact with a single member of the team.
But what I’ve discovered from many of my guests is that despite all of those activities mentioned above, perhaps the best thing you can do for your business is to actually invest time in getting on the front line and getting amongst your team.
Perhaps nowadays, when people hear “engaged” the default is to think of “Googleised” offices with space hopper meeting rooms and freshly prepared plant-based meals hand-delivered by buddhist monks.
All of a sudden, an engaged team sounds expensive.
But what I’ve come to realise is that most of that is just superficial.
And as Kul Mahay talked about in his interview, building an engaged team that will go the extra mile and will stay loyal to you can actually be as simple as just having a normal conversation with your people.
It’s taking time out of your day, to find out how their day is going.
It’s asking what they’ve been up to, how their family is, what they enjoy about the job and what could be improved.
These type of conversations will not only build an incredible bond between you and the rest of the business, but you’ll also glean perhaps some of the most valuable intel as your staff will know just as well as you, usually better, what’s going right, what’s going wrong and what needs to change.
The long-term results from making this a regular part of your work week are no longer in question – it works.
The trouble that many business owners have with this, and I have no problem holding my hand up to this myself, is that it’s an exercise that doesn’t generate a tangible result that can be plugged into a spreadsheet and analysed.
As business leaders, sometimes, if not all the time, we feel pressured (and usually, we’re the only person piling on that pressure) to show that we’re providing value to the company by “doing” as much stuff and getting as many tasks ticked off the checklist as possible.
But ultimately, that short-term dopamine hit that we get from completing a task is not what’s best for the on-going success of the business.
For you, it’s a conversation with a member of the team.
For that one individual, it’s the fact that THE owner of the business has taken time out of his or her day to sit down and have a conversation with them.
It could well be the highlight of that person’s week that they go home and tell their partner about over dinner – just for them to know that you care about them.
If you want to make your team feel valued – it’s perhaps the best thing you can do.
Forget the space hoppers.
Forget the fussball tables.
Forget the sleeping pods.
Just begin by making talking with your team a regular part of your weekly routine.
Because if you don’t have that, none of the above will make an ounce of difference.
The question is, if your days are already packed full – how do you find the time?
Well unfortunately, that’s not possible.
Nobody has the magical ability to “find time”.
You have to MAKE the time and then view that time as sacred.
Damon from BriefYourMarket talked about how he takes his team out to the pub on a regular basis so they can let their hair down, relax and all get to know each other on a deeper level which builds a level of comradery that is hard to beat.
Steve Gandy talked about how you should schedule no less than eight hours per week in advance, and block it out in your diary so it gets done, for “MBWA” – Management By Walking About.
Because if you look after your people, your people will look after your customers.
And if your people look after your customers, your customers will look after your business.
And if your customers look after your business….well…I think we all know what’s next and it revolves around you.
And to bring my second business truth to a close, focus on your people, I’m going to use a quote from Steve Gandy in the last interview on the show, which went a little something like this:
“It’s your people that will get you to where you want to be, so focus on your people”.
Business Truth No.3 – Keep One Eye On The Pipeline.
When you’ve just started out in business, every new client you secure and customer you win means so much more.
It’s validation in not just your business idea, but in YOU and this could just be the beginning of all your dreams coming true.
Now you’ve got one or, if you’re lucky enough, some customers you’ve got to prove your worth and you’re probably going to be focused on delivering insane amounts of value to blow the socks off your new customer and start building a rock-solid reputation.
The problem here lies in that it’s all too easy to become so immersed in over-delivering to your customers, that you take your eye off new business that’s coming into the pipeline.
You finish your piece of work, deliver it to the client and they’re delighted.
They’re really pleased that they chose to work with you and they pay their fees promptly.
For a moment, everything feels great.
In fact, that couldn’t have gone better.
Then, after you’ve given yourself a little pat on the back you decide to get back to work and see what’s next.
And then it hits you.
There’s nothing there.
You then realise that you became so zoned in on completing the order that you’d totally taken your eye off locating and bringing on board new business.
This can be a big issue for service-based businesses, and especially those in the coaching and consulting field as Andrew Deighton from AWD Development Solutions and Jim Thorp from JT Ethos both talked about in their interviews.
Even Susan Hallam, owner of the internationally renowned Hallam digital marketing agency talked about struggles with keeping business levels consistent in the early days and how you’d have to go through peaks and troughs of income.
So, whilst it’s extremely important to deliver outstanding work to your customers, don’t forget to make sure that the pipeline of new business isn’t drying up and you have a constant stream of leads to convert into new customers.
That way, you won’t have to experience inconsistent months of abundance followed by drought, which greatly affects cashflow.
There are all kinds of ways that you can automate your lead generation process now, regardless of what type of business you’re in, so that it’s working for your 24/7 and you have a constant pool of quality leads to dip into – even if you’re spending most of your time on delivering your product or service.
And so, to summarise business truth number three, keep one eye on the pipeline, I’m going to use a quote from the great business and personal development master, Brian Tracey, who says;
“Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see them”
Business Truth No.4 – Find A Mentor.
Several of my guests have referenced the importance of having a mentor or coach which has greatly contributed to their success.
The whole foundation upon which this podcast is built on is the fact that success leaves footprints.
Learning from your mistakes is an important part of becoming a successful entrepreneur, but if you can tie that in with learning from the mistakes of others – well that just adds fuel to the fire.
Having access to the experiences, lessons and guidance from those who have already trodden the path from which you intend to follow can save you from making the same mistakes that they made and implement what they discovered works without having to go through the same painful process of having to figure it all out for yourself.
It’s not to say that you won’t be successful just by going it alone.
Far from it, and there’s plenty of people who have done it.
But, with the right mentor or coach, there’s every chance that you’re going to get there much faster and with far less friction.
If you’re going to go out and find a mentor, which I’d highly recommend, there’s a couple of questions which are often asked to take into consideration.
First one being, so what’s the difference between a coach and a mentor?
So, for me, a mentor is someone who has been successful in the same industry as you.
Typically, when you think of a mentor, we tend to think of someone approaching retirement who is now looking to ease off the pedal a bit and wants to give back by helping others to succeed.
But that’s not always the case.
Clearly you want someone who is more experienced or has more of what you want in order for it to be a worthwhile endeavour, for both parties, but they don’t need to be lightyears ahead of you.
If you’re at step 2 out of 10 – you don’t have to find someone who’s at 10.
It could be someone who’s at 7,6 or even 5 because they’ll still be able to help you progress through those next levels.
You can learn specifically what not to do, and what worked for them in the past and then decide how you can adapt that for your own benefit.
They may also be able to open doors and introduce you to key people that are going to help fast-track your growth and progression.
A good coach on the other hand is someone who might not necessarily know the intricacies of your craft, but they’re experienced in building successful businesses.
As Steve Gandy mentioned in his interview, you tend to find that whilst the product or service you deliver may be vastly different, the building blocks of a successful business and the solutions to the major problems we’re all faced with are usually the same, regardless of which industry you’re in.
Alan Weiss, who is heralded by many as the top entrepreneur coach in the world, said that when he was a consultant working with some of the best performing businesses on the planet – no matter what was going on, he could always boil issues down to one of eleven problems, regardless of the size of the business, industry or country.
A good coach also knows the right questions to ask of you to help you come up with the highest quality answer.
On face value, this may not seem all that valuable but as Tony Robbins says, “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life”
By asking quality questions, a good coach will help you to decipher what’s really important to you and where you should be focusing your time for the greatest ROI and then crucially, hold you to account to get out there and execute.
Another quality of a good coach is that they’re not involved in your business to the level that you are.
That fresh and totally unbiased perspective can often produce revelations as you’re given the ability to see your business from a birds-eye view, rather than being embroiled in the day to day action which can often see huge opportunities pass by without being noticed or huge roadblocks stop you in your tracks which could have been addressed earlier.
The next question is usually;
“OK, it sounds great but how do I find one?”
For a great mentor, you just have to ask.
LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool for this.
Find someone who you think you may be able to learn from and just get in touch.
As many of my guests have alluded to, in this business game if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Many successful people, and every single guest I’ve had on the podcast so far, would see it as a great compliment if someone not as progressed were to ask them for their help – providing they were not a direct competitor of course.
But remember, think about what’s in it for them?
How can you provide value to this person in exchange for them sharing their hard-earned business wisdom that they have fought so hard for and sacrificed so much to get?
My first suggestion would be that this person probably spends a lot of time taking other people out for drinks or lunches, so offer to do the same for them in exchange for just sitting down and having a conversation about business.
If you strike it off and get on with each other, see if they’d be interested in becoming a mentor to you.
Asking somebody right out of the gate without having ever met them if they’d be interested in being your mentor is verging on odd and is perhaps not going to warrant too many, if any, positive responses.
Here’s the thing though, and I love this phrase, don’t be an “Askhole“.
An askhole is someone who is always asking questions and receiving great answers but never doing anything with or executing on the advice given.
That will see the relationship deteriorate quickly as part of what’s in it for the mentor will be watching their hungry business disciple progress.
And if you’re not using their knowledge to advance, what’s the point?
You have to make a commitment to take action and the same goes for a coach because if you don’t make changes based on their advice or suggestions, their time and your money is being wasted.
Now not everyone is going to say yes, because that’s not life but have faith that if you kiss enough frogs, you’ll eventually find your prince or princess.
To find a business coach, you could just type “local business coach” into Google and you’ll be presented with pages of results.
However, that’s not what I’d recommend.
Firstly, you should check out some of the amazing consultants and coaches that have already featured on the show – Steve Gandy, Kul Mahay, Andrew Deighton and Estelle Read all definitely come with the Benjamin Brain seal of approval.
Failing that, you’ll find that many hold free seminars or even one-time events that you have to pay for.
Get to see how they operate and if you feel like you could work with them before just picking anyone.
Recommendations from other business owners who have worked successfully with coaches is a great starting point too.
Another word of warning – this person is not here to be your friend.
They’re here to force you outside of your comfort zone and to hold you to account on important actions and tasks.
Sometimes that requires an “awkward” conversation AKA a “kick up the backside” and getting too friendly can sometimes sabotage that vital element of a coach/client relationship.
So, you might be wondering at this point – have I taken my own advice here?
The answer is “sort of”.
Firstly, I would consider all of the guests that I’ve featured on the show a mentor of mine because in every single episode I’ve learned something new and I often refer back to the stories of these entrepreneurs when I’m faced with similar challenges.
But that’s not a cop out.
Right now, I don’t have what I would consider an “official” mentor.
However, having seen the impact it’s had on the lives of my guests, both past and future, I am definitely in the process of making connections to find one.
I DO have a coach.
He’s not a business coach, per se, more of a life/success coach.
I meet with this coach one on one once a month and I have to say that the acceleration in my progress since working with my coach has put this project into warp speed with all kinds of opportunities presenting themselves right now that I could not have even envisaged just a few weeks ago.
It’s most definitely a financial commitment, and not a cheap one at that, which is good because it means I’ve got skin in the game and I’m far more likely to execute on the plans we put in place and turn my dreams into reality.
And if that’s not worth investing in, I don’t know what is!
So, I’ll close out truth number four, find a mentor, with the following quote from Tom Landry:
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be”
Business Truth No.5 – Look After Yourself
I think most of us are aware of the positive effects of healthy eating and regular exercise on our body.
What has become especially apparent after spending time with my guests is the positive effect it can have on your performance as an entrepreneur and the performance of your business.
Your business will never outperform you.
In my interview with Jim Thorp from JT Ethos, he talked extensively about the effect certain food types have on our body and shared examples of some of the huge boosts in energy and focus that entrepreneurs he worked with have experienced after making some changes to their lifestyle and the way they view certain foods.
It’s certainly changed the way I think about food now.
We become what we eat and if we fuel ourselves with caffeine, sugary drinks and processed food, your mind and body simply won’t be able to perform at anywhere near peak levels.
The problem I find is that when things get busy, our health is usually the first thing that gets put on the back-burner.
Convenience starts to replace healthy and the odd McDonalds transforms from being a once a week treat into a daily occurrence, maybe even with some breakfasts thrown in for good measure too.
And once you’re out of sync with your normal routine of healthier eating and exercising, boy is it hard to get back into it.
I’ve often thought to myself if only getting back into exercise was as easy as stopping – but as with most things in life, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Most of my guests talked about how an important part of their daily routine was exercising, Damon, Rob, Kevin, Jonny, Francesca and as far back as I can think really, pretty much every guest that’s been on the show.
Not only does it keep your body in good shape, it’s a great way to de-stress and take your mind off the business.
Or even grab yourself some time just to “think” about things instead of constantly being in “doing” mode which can also be when the breakthrough ideas surface.
I have to admit that it’s something that’s fallen by the wayside for me with the production of this podcast and I can tell the difference.
If I’ve managed to get some exercise in in the morning or the evening before, I can feel a huge difference in my energy levels throughout the day and that mid-afternoon slump is non-existent.
Right now, I’m in the process of changing my own routine so that I can make sure I get in some exercise and whilst I know it won’t be every day, I should be able to stick to it most days.
Because ultimately, the whole point of being in business is for your business to serve you so that one day you can enjoy a life that others perhaps can’t.
But if you’re so out of shape and unhealthy that you’re not actually able to enjoy it when you get there, then really it’s all been for nothing.
And we’re no good to our businesses or our families if we end up in hospital because we’ve burned ourselves out and not taken proper care of our body and minds – or worse yet, dead.
So, if this resonates with you, follow my lead and schedule in some time in your diary that you can commit to some exercise, even if it’s just a slow walk or gentle bike ride.
It doesn’t have to be extreme because the chances are you won’t stay consistent if you go from 0 to 100.
Just get your heart rate up and break a sweat.
And don’t think you have to go it alone.
See if you can buddy up with someone and find an exercise partner so you can both hold each other to account.
The chances of this becoming a new regular part of your life and enjoying all of the benefits for mind, body and soul, that come with it are significantly enhanced when it’s a shared responsibility with a friend or colleague.
So, I’ll finish truth number five off, look after yourself, with a quote for which I couldn’t find the original author and it goes;
“Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood”
Business Truth No.6 – Focus On The Few Not The Many
In my interview with Andrew Deighton, he talked about what he’d do differently if he was able to start his business again.
He explained that he would have narrowed his services down to one or two core offerings and then really honed in on them, rather than trying to offer all things to all people.
In effect, he would have focused on less, to achieve more.
This sounds counter-intuitive but when you take a deeper look at any truly high-performance person, you’ll see it’s an important part of how they operate.
This is especially hard to commit to when you first start out and it takes some courage when there will be a number of outside forces working hard to fool you into expanding what you do.
You’re excited, passionate, ready to take on the world and the seemingly obvious choice is to pursue various different income streams, offer varying levels of service and attack multiple marketing channels to grow the business as quickly as people.
But what actually happens is your efforts are diluted and your results become sub-par at best.
Doing more, gets less done.
And multi-tasking is overrated.
In fact, really, there’s no such thing – it’s an illusion.
You have a finite amount of focus and if you’re working on more than one thing, you’re not giving 100% of your focus to either.
How you get things done, and done well, is by concentrating all or your focus on one task, project, service or product line until you’ve nailed it and then moving on to the next.
Multitasking, which is now a staple attribute proudly displayed on 99% of CVs, was never meant to describe humans.
It first appeared in print in 1965 and was used to describe the capabilities of computers that were able to perform one task whilst another was holding in the background.
Unfortunately, it’s that good old FOMO, fear of missing out, that forces us to add “more” when we don’t immediately get the results we’re looking for – instead of working on what you’ve already got to refine it and make it better.
For example, if you’re planning on usual social media, don’t go setting up accounts on every single platform.
Pick one that’s best suited to your target audience, learn how to get really good at it and master it.
I can speak from experience on this.
To begin with I set up accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and LinkedIn.
I felt it was what I needed to do.
Surely you’ve just got to be on every platform, right?
I invested so much time in trying to learn to use them all effectively, optimise my profiles, use the right hashtags, employ the right growth strategy that I was getting nothing else done and all of that time was resulting in about two more followers per week.
Looking back, I don’t know how I expected it to work – but all it took was a comment from somebody like “Oh you’re not on Twitter” – and then boom, I’d be on Twitter setting up a brand new shiny account.
Now I’ve scrapped the Twitter, I’ve scrapped Instagram and I’m focusing most of my efforts on LinkedIn which means I can spend far less time learning how to get exponential growth on the platform whilst having plenty of time to get the actual meaningful work done and it’s made a huge difference.
If your business isn’t producing the results that you’re looking for, don’t look for what more you can add – look at what you can do to make what you already have better – which may even mean taking away from your current suite of product or service offerings.
So, to summarise my sixth business truth, focus on the few and not the many, I’m going use a quote from a popular and successful Youtuber called Sunny Lenaduzzi who sums it up nicely with;
“You’ve got to niche down, to blow up”
Business Truth No.7 – The Business Rites Of Passage
Many of my guests have been able to crack the entrepreneurial code and now live a fantastic balanced life with a business that pretty much works on autopilot for them.
But they’ve earned it and it wasn’t easy, or overnight.
It took years of hard-work, resilience, determination, ups, downs, mistakes and failures to get there.
And if you’re thinking about starting a business, or are in the early stages – I’ve learned that there is what appears to be an unavoidable rite of passage that the universe will put you through to test your commitment to being successful before it allows you to move to the next level.
Now that right of passage may be different for each of us, but some of the things you’re almost guaranteed to face during your first few years in business are money worries, sleepless nights, times when you start to doubt yourself and wonder if it’s all worth it, pressure from those around you to pack it in, hiring the wrong people, making mistakes, getting out of shape, wasting money on ineffective products or services, losing touch with friends, being stuck as the technician not getting the time to work on the business and working with clients you don’t like, you may even hate, but need the money.
And whilst a commitment to constant learning is key and may well soften up the blow or speed up the remedy, there is no better teacher than cold, hard experience.
It’s only by going through these experiences that we can understand the lessons on a far deeper level and have them chisel us into better business people and entrepreneurs that are capable of dealing with the bigger challenges that will come.
Let’s take for example Jonny from Invictus Communications.
He has a great business now that is built around being lean and using third-party service providers so he can pack a far great punch.
He enjoys a great work life balance and gets to do the things he wants.
But, he’s got there because of the lessons he learned in his first business where things didn’t go so smoothly and he eventually ended up selling.
Kevin Huffington from Central Health Network put a huge emphasis on the difference it made when he switched from working in the business to working on it.
But again, he had to go through those experiences of working all hours and realising the business wasn’t getting to where he wanted it to for him to be able to realise that things needed to change.
Nobody, and I truly mean nobody, gets everything right their first time.
But that’s what this journey is all about and if it was easy, everyone would be out there being their own boss right now and building wildly successful businesses.
The truth is, it’s not like that and never will be.
So, whilst it won’t feel like it at the time, if you’re going through a stage in your business that sounds similar to what we’ve just talked about, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s actually for your own benefit because the lessons your learn, the attributes you develop and the challenges you overcome are the only way you can grow into the person you need to become who can operate a business at the next level.
Keep going my friend because if you believe in yourself and take heed of the other truths we’ve talked about today and in all of my previous episodes with some truly brilliant business owners and entrepreneurs, you will make it out of the other side.
And so, I’ll wrap up my final business truth number seven, the business rites of passage, with a powerful quote from the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, who said;
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”.
Because in this great game of business, we are destined to fail – time and time again.
And many will give up on their hopes and dreams and return to the life from which they were trying to escape.
But for those with passion, determination, resilience and absolute commitment to doing what you know you should do, marching on when your mind is whispering “give-up” – success is on your side.