Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial and Business Owner Coaching

Business coaching for business owners

It is common that entrepreneurs or business owners come for business coaching for two reasons:

  1. They want an objective sounding board that can provide a valuable critique of their business
  2. They want to move their business forward, but often do not know how to do this

For the entrepreneur or business owner, business coaching is comparable to having a business partner.

The business coach is someone with insight into your business, knowledge about business in general, and who has no ego in terms of ‘being right’.

For the business owner, there could be no better partner than one who has the vested interests of your business at heart.

Business coaching, like business development, is a process. It has ebbs and flows and requires time to achieve results. It is also a relationship that grows and matures over time, and within that maturity develops an in-depth understanding of your business ambition, capabilities, industry, as well as of the people involved and their competencies. This includes the competencies and preferences of the business owner or entrepreneur.

The road that the business owner travels in a business coaching intervention is one in which he or she develops new competencies, and ingrains an improved system of thinking about their business and their ways of doing things.

The process demands commitment and actions, and the results embed the desire to take those actions. When the coaching sessions reach conclusion, the business and the business owner both emerge in a much better place than when they originally started.


Book a coaching session today. 

Email Etiquette: How to keep things professional

pablo-24Twenty years ago if someone wanted to put something in writing, they considered their words. They sat down with either a pen and paper, or used their typewriter, and they crafted their message with intention and deliberation.

Today, however, we have email. Email is probably one of the greatest technological advances in communication over the last century. It enables speedy and efficient messenging in a matter of seconds, and is how the world does business.

Enter netiquette.  Netiquette is “network etiquette” – the dos and don’ts of online communication.

The increase in informality in email messages has created panic in many businesses.  More and more businesses have started implementing professional standards to leverage email communication effectively, cutting out small talk, and facilitating speedy decisions.

Email best practice includes the following:

  • Golden rule. Don’t say anything in an email that you would not say face to face
  • Company image: Remember your emails impact on the company image
  • Personal relationships: There is an impersonal element to email (although email contact is better than no contact)
  • Don’t hide behind email and avoid face to face contact: Do not give good, or bad, news via email
  • Email is not confidential: Emails can be retrieved, forwarded, examined, and used in a court of law
  • Do not overuse group email: ‘Reply all’ should be used conservatively
  • Email is tone deaf: It is extremely difficult and tricky to communicate tone in an email, and for it to be understood correctly
  • Copying others on your email: The “CC” field is for copying in people who need to stay informed, but do not need to take action.
  • Subject line: Make sure your subject line captures the essence of your email
  • Don’t make assumptions: Do not assume the recipient knows the background to your situation
  • Concise messages: Get to the point
  • Be prompt: Reply within 24 hours
  • Professionalism: Always use a professional email signature
  • Include a disclaimer

 

Why Do Businesses Fail?

Why do businesses fail?

There are a thousand expressions that talk about working hard yielding rewards. Unfortunately, many people in the business world will dispute this philosophy. Hard work is certainly admirable and brings results, but it is not the only ingredient required to ensure business success. 

Business fail because of a myriad of reasons. The simplest being that there is no demand or perceived need for your product. Sometimes we come up with a brilliant idea but it is either just before the wave of popularity strikes, or as brilliant as the idea is, there is no perceived value in the market – meaning that people don’t think they need it – even if they really do! Competition, substitutes, and pricing are also factors which impact on the success of a business.

Looking internally, business success depends equally on people and processes. Both the people in the business, and the processes running the business, need to be competent. If the people are not in the right positions, or if the systems and processes are not effective, the business will ultimately collapse.

It is most important to realise that business failure is not a personal failure. It is simply feedback from the market to tell you that something in your business needs to be changed.

This is the only way a business person can grow and mature their business when they do not succeed. In the words of Ron Holland:

“Failure can either be a stepping stone to success, or a stumbling block to defeat.”

Don’t ever let business failure defeat you!

Who can you trust in your business?

 

Who to trust in your business There’s an expression that says: If you want loyalty, get a dog! Many ‘people-people’ would gasp at this, and many ‘task-oriented people’ would nod their heads knowingly. The reality is that one person cannot build and run a business completely on their own.  Whether they expand inside the business, or outsource externally, at some point there is a need to develop trust so that certain aspects of the business run without the direct involvement of the business owner.

So who can you trust? Trust is an aspect of relationships which can take years to cultivate, but sometimes a business does not have that kind of time. The bottom line is this:

Trust those who are trustworthy.

Actions speak louder than any form of promise or commitment, so trust those who do not watch the clock; who do not only do their job description; who do not complain about work. Trust those who work proactively for the best interest of the company; trust those who are there when you need resources to help; trust those who display honestly and integrity in their dealings; and most importantly, trust those who your gut tells you to trust.

To trust another in your business is to take a risk, because with trust comes certain liberties and power. But without that trust the business can never grow.

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.”

Thomas Moore

 

 

Meet the Entrepreneur 10: Stepping Back

Stepping back from a businessThrough history the rebels who overthrow a government and start a new era are very rarely the people who then run the country.

Similarly, in business. The energy and thought processes that are required by an entrepreneur to launch and develop a business are a completely different skill set to the one that works to grow a stable and professional company. 

This can be difficult for an entrepreneur to hear.  The reality is however that if the entrepreneur wants what is best for the company, the chances are that he or she will naturally start to withdraw from the daily operations. 

 Further to this, the nature of an entrepreneur is to start new things, take on exciting challenges and take the risks which yield the best rewards. Therefore, inevitably the entrepreneur will start craving something new and dynamic.  Their innovative thinking and behavioural style is likely to launch them into another project anyway.

The rebels have a strong purpose and it is through their actions that the biggest changes in history happen. The presidents, prime ministers, or managers keep the status quo and grow things in a consistent and responsible manner.

All businesses need a shake up once in a while and all managers need to be challenged in order to grow. The skill set of the entrepreneur is invaluable and will never be redundant. It’s just a matter of using those skills most effectively and where their impact is the greatest.

Meet the Entrepreneur 9: Harnessing Energy

Entrepreneurs and energy“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.”

Tony Robbins

The one thing that most entrepreneurs do not lack is energy. They seem to be born with an insatiable drive to get things done and to work very extended hours. This is both admirable and overwhelming. Those who’ve worked in entrepreneurial businesses will know the normal entrepreneurial culture: nothing that anyone else does is ever enough.

When one human being is planning, doing and achieving at a rate triple that of everyone else, it makes the average worker appear stagnant.  Walt Disney said: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” This is the mantra of many entrepreneurs. And it works.

With regards to the employees who can never keep up and feel that everything they do is never good enough, it is certainly not for the entrepreneur to slow his pace to pacify his workers. Instead there is a need to focus on the admiration and use it as a motivational tool to inspire employees to give their all and raise their personal standards.

If one person can achieve beyond average, so can everyone else. 

“I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.”

Mark Zuckerberg

 

Meet the entrepreneur 8: Managing emotions

Entrepreneurs and managing emotionEmotions are what colour our lives. They are the what give experiences meaning and memorability. The one thing that entrepreneurs are renowned for is their passion – and emotion! Entrepreneurs tend to be colourful in both a good and a bad way. 

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill.

It’s often not a loss of enthusiasm, but rather the display of frustration that differentiates entrepreneurs. Temper tantrums, blowing hot and cold, and extreme displays of emotion are all behaviours that those who work with entrepreneurs will be very familiar with.

The problem is not the display of emotion, but rather the impact that the display has on others.

For employees who are sensitive to the mood of others, this behaviour can be extremely stressful and even detrimental. It is unlikely that the entrepreneur is aware of their impact on others, because often once their display is over, they move on.

While emotional displays are common in many entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur needs to become cognisant of her ups and downs, how she expresses her emotion, and the impact this has on those around her. 

Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will give the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.

Jim Rohn

Meet the entrepreneur 7: Measuring performance

Entrepreneurship and measuring performance

“What gets measured, gets done!”

The principle is simple: If you can quantify something, you can immediately measure whether progress has been made.

We know that entrepreneurs by nature are not the best managers, mainly because they’re ‘action people’ who are driven by getting things done themselves.  So how does measuring things help them?

It’s simple.  For the entrepreneur, a key performance dashboard is the most useful tool that they can implement in their business.

This dashboard provides them with the clarity to prioritise what they deem the most important, and to place specific criteria onto each performance indicator.

For many people, implementing some form of measurement enhances motivation. It also puts in place a very clear and non-debatable expectation from the entrepreneur to his staff.

Traditionally, entrepreneurs are not the best performance managers in the world. They expect everyone to embody their passion, drive and energy, and tend not to enjoy looking over people’s shoulders to make sure they’re doing their best work. The implementation of key performance measurements increases accountability. Either something was done or it wasn’t. Either the standards were met, or they weren’t.

Placing measurement is not just a matter of thumb sucking a whole bunch of figures – it is a diligent and deliberate process through which the right actions are measured, according to the right criteria, at the right time.

Most importantly, know what you want to know before you even think of measuring it. There is a difference between measuring performance and measuring an outcome. Positive performance tends to have a positive impact on the outcome.

There’s a corollary to the saying, and that is: “What gets measured, can be managed!” An effective measurement dashboard makes this a reality for every entrepreneur.

Meet the entrepreneur 6: Communication

Communication at work

Communication has been cited as the biggest problem in South African companies. But surely the smaller the company, the easier the communication? It would make sense that since we all talk to each other daily, that we would know how to communicate, but this is rarely the case.

Here is how the problem starts: the entrepreneur knows what  she or he is doing and what they want to do. Their plan is so exciting and obvious to them that they cannot understand why everyone else is not on board.

The blatant gap is that no one else, or just a limited group of people, are actually told what is going on, or consulted with. The problems start to surface when the staff keep on doing whatever they always done, not knowing the goal posts have moved.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of an entrepreneur is their tendency to change direction with the market. As their focus changes, so does their action plan, and so too everyone else’s key performance areas.

Communication is not simply about telling others what is on your mind. It is a cognitive and emotional process in which one person is present in another’s world during the process of the discussion. 

Active listening and constructive feedback ensure that another person’s perspective enhances yours, moving an organisation forward like one smooth coordinated organism. By communicating with staff, the entrepreneur not only shares his or her dream, but the staff become part of the dream, and the entrepreneur gains the advantage of the staff’s thoughts and perspectives.

Talk is not cheap, it is highly valuable and incredibly effective.


Speak to a business coach today.  The first session is FREE.

Meet the entrepreneur 5: Favouritism in small businesses

Entrepreneurs and favouritism in small businesses“It’s not what you know, but who you know”

Nepotism and favouritism are significant issues in most small companies. These seem to be accentuated in the entrepreneurial sphere, where either family and friends are employed because the entrepreneur knows and trusts them, or it becomes a convenient recruitment process short cutting many aspects of red tape and inconvenient checks. 

It is also a common habit of entrepreneurs to show preference to those who work well, further the company’s goals, or simply ‘click’ with the entrepreneur. Although this sounds natural, and in some respects even acceptable, the concept of inequality in the treatment of staff raises its head as a significant issue for both the favourite and non-favourite employees. It is not only unethical, but also counter-productive.

The favourites often become victimised and comments such as “you get anything you ask for” become prolific in the hallways, whereas “I never get anything, no matter how badly I need it to do my job!” is often also heard. Whether the favouritism is justified or not, whether it exists or not, the reality is that it is a destructive practice in any business, and even more so in a small company where each staff member needs to make a difference.

What is the solution? A simple and structured performance based reward system that correlates directly to work tasks and projects. The problem in implementing this is the general lack of systems in entrepreneurial businesses.

A final note worth considering: if you were building a business, and some employees worked harder that others and added greater value, do you think you could conceal a preference for them?


Revolutionise you business.  Speak to a business coach today. The first session is FREE.