Whilst I’ve been helping Aussie businesses for more than 35 years, now in 2023 celebrating 15 years of Business Coaching, I thought it was timely to share some of my biggest learnings. Being a coach is hard work, but it’s also exceedingly satisfying. I spoke a couple of months ago to a client I’ve coached a few years back. He rang me to ask something and I naturally asked ‘so how are things going?’ His response was that turnover is up from $1M to $10M, profits are great and most importantly, he is happy.
If you’ve been around the block a few times, as I have, you will have seen Governments come and go (some we are happy to see go and in other cases, I hope to goodness the public will remember how bad that Government let things get and not vote them back again for a long while). We see economic changes, crisis, natural disasters and yes, now I can add a global pandemic to the list. With all these things though, some fundamentals of business just don’t change.
Good Practices Almost Never Change
I recently read a book (The Magic of Thinking Big) which was written in 1957. I looked up the year, because some of the references were exceedingly out of date, but the fundamental principles of the book are as relevant today as they were back over 65 years ago. The book talked about a few different things, like:
- Developing self-confidence
- Putting your best foot forward
- Focus on the positive, rather than the negative
- Doing what’s right
- Smile big and make eye contact
- Use people’s names
- If you’re a boss or work in a team, don’t hog all the glory
- Grow a ‘service first’ attitude
- Consistency and ‘turning up’ every day
- Follow through on calls or promises
- Don’t blame others, and one of my favourites:
“Get advice from successful people, not freelance advisors who have failed.”
On that last one, I’ve come across people who say “yeah, I failed at that, but I know what not to do” … but the question always remains; do you know what you should do? Do you know how to succeed?
Money Really Does Matter
For some Australians, money is almost a taboo subject. It shouldn’t be, especially for business owners. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, or growing what you have – that’s a good thing – as long as it’s done with integrity and honesty. Having savings is something I asked all new business coaching clients about, but it’s often not practised or practised well. As a kid, we were given money boxes and encouraged to save every week. Older teachings say put 10% of income away to savings. Now, when I say that, I’m not talking about putting the GST aside so you can pay your BAS bill, I’m talking above and beyond GST, super or tax. Whether it’s as an individual, or a business (or both) we should all get back to the art of saving.
The other big thing about money is reviewing and understanding your financial reports, being all over your figures, analysing, sticking to budgets and not overspending. In fact, too many of us live on debt, credit cards and spend far more than we make. With a plan, some time and some discipline, you can change and turn things around.
Knowledge is Not a Waste of Time
Attaining knowledge, learning and improving your skills will take most people a long way. Some of us have to be dragged kicking and screaming to expand our grey matter. Others, however, regardless of age, know the value of learning and growing their experience, abilities and expertise. Today there are so many options – you can read a blog, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video, read or listen to a book, attend a webinar, or partake in formal training – long or short. The point is, do something. Whether it’s 15 minutes of reading or listening each morning, or once a month, booking in a webinar … make learning one of your regular practices.
Technology Might Change, But Business is Still About People
Technology is constantly changing; from computers, phones, apps through to digital marketing and generally how our clients and customers engage with us. But please never forget, even if you’re an online store, your customers are people. Every business that operates an online store, or utilises technology must ask themselves, am I giving my customers the best user experience? As the world has expanded (or perhaps I should say, it’s shrunk), us in Australia are often competing with businesses from many other countries overseas. You must ask yourself – why would your customer buy from you and not from someone else?
Time is Our Greatest Resource
There is no line item on a P&L Statement or Balance Sheet called “Time Expense” or “Time Asset” … bar ‘Wages’, yet it is one of our greatest resources. Inefficiencies, duplications, ineffectiveness, errors and yes, slackness, can all waste time. Too often, when a business is looking to ‘trim the fat’ they pluck only the obvious on a P&L statement – we can cut our marketing budget, or perhaps staff training. That’s what I call ‘cutting the muscle’ … rather than trimming fat. Improve what you’re doing within the business, look for improvements and efficiency upgrades. Remember, if you are a business owner, your time is valuable too, even if you don’t draw a wage (which you should). Are you doing activities which will generate income, or grow or improve your business, or are you caught up in trivial activities which have little value?
There is More to Life Than Work (or Business)
When you’re new to business, it’s not uncommon for you to work 6 or 7 days a week during that first six months. I tend to put a cap of 6 months on it – then move to say 6 days, then 5.5 then 5 etc. That intense time at the beginning can help give you a solid start so you start generating profits much sooner, but long term, working all the time is not sustainable. I do what I love and I love what I do, so essentially, I never ‘work’ a day in my life. However, I am working and now 15 years in, I don’t do nights or weekends. There are exceptions, of course, to the ‘rules’ but it’s rare.
Having the weekend off does a few things. It allows us to live a life, get out, have fun, exercise or spend time with our families. It allows us to have time to think, contemplate and perhaps get some great ideas. It allows us to recharge and refresh. As much as I love coaching Australian business owners, leaders and individuals, I also love doing other things – and I do.
The term ‘Work/Life Balance’ has been very overused and almost sounded like a fad, but the reality is that it’s important. We need balance in our lives, we need time off to recharge and we need to have some fun. I often ask coaching clients in the beginning why they went into business. Often money, flexibility, time for family or personal satisfaction are reasons provided. Remember your ‘why’ and don’t be a slave to your business. Make it work for you; not the other way around.
As an expert, experienced and successful business coach, I help clients achieve their own goals and objectives. If you’d like to know more – reach out to me at my Contact Page.