What plagues small businesspeople in general, and kitchen/bath design firm owners in particular, is the constant need to work in their business rather than on their business. For most dealers, that means the daily routine of generating sales, getting jobs ordered, putting out fires in the field and collecting checks so the weekly payroll can be met. There is precious little time to gain practical business knowledge through reading and Internet researching, and even less time to implement new ideas.
To be sure, it’s productive to attend educational seminars to learn new things, gain perspective, network with industry colleagues and go back home recharged. However, after delivering industry presentations for more than 30 years, it’s my distinct impression that the vast majority of dealers rarely implement even 20% of what they have learned. They are just too busy working in their business.
Enter the services of a business coach. The graphic at the top of the page shows business coaching as the central link between the owner’s personal effectiveness and the effectiveness of the business. The business coach serves as a facilitator – or catalyst – to enhance the owner’s personal effectiveness in areas such as leadership, communication, prioritization and goal-setting.
The business coach also serves as a sort of enforcer, holding the owner accountable for implementing the action plans that are developed. The net result is that the business becomes more effective in key disciplines such as marketing, sales, financial management and systemization – all of which are so desperately needed to survive in today’s tough business climate.
In my view, the advent of business coaching services may be the single, most important industry development for independent kitchen/bath dealers to leapfrog ahead in revenue and net profit growth. After all, a business is a tool to get what you want out of life. And in my view, business coaching is the best tool available to date to get what you want out of your business. It bridges the gap between gaining knowledge and taking action on that knowledge. It empowers – and disciplines – you to incrementally work on your business every single week for at least one hour each week.
There’s one constant in every challenge that you have in your life and in your business. And that singular constant is you. Therefore, if you are going to change anything, you must begin with yourself first. Business coaching focuses on both you – the owner – and the things you should be doing to achieve the ultimate level of success that you have defined for your life and your business.
We all have our comfort zones. Human nature being what it is, some of us don’t want to know what we don’t know. That’s one reason why many of us stay the way we are. It certainly explains why when there is a choice between a business management and design/sales seminar, the management seminar has the far greater number of empty seats available.
Indeed, learning about something new, and maybe not completely understanding it, may take you into the uncomfortable zone. A business coach can lead you out of that uncomfortable zone by explaining, in depth, what needs to be done – and then help you to effect the change.
For real change to take place, the following six ingredients must be present or we will continue to do what is familiar and easy:
- Awareness. We must recognize that what we have done in the past will lead to similar results, and be aware that there are alternatives to our actions, and that these alternatives will lead to different results.
- Pain/Dissatisfaction. If we like our results, there is very little reason to change. However, if there is something that causes us pain, then we naturally will move away from it. For example, if our firm is not receiving sufficient leads, we should dramatically change our marketing plan.
- Solution. We need to know that there is a better way. We need to have a vision of a business life in the new paradigm, and we need to understand that the solution is possible. The Vision Statement should describe what your business looks like when it’s all grown up.
- Strategic Plan. We need a step-by-step, written procedure for implementing the new plan that will lead us to the solution. If we aren’t able to break it down into small, manageable pieces, we will probably take the easier route of not changing. Business coaches are trained to help develop Strategic Plans with lucrative exit strategies, and then work with kitchen/bath firm owners to achieve each year’s critical success factors.
- Action. This, of course, is the single most important step to effect change. Nothing changes until we take focused action. All too often, small businesspeople have their feet set in concrete, paralyzed to take any action for fear of making a major mistake. Here’s where a business coach can be a great asset, helping you to analyze the outcomes of several possible options and pointing you toward the best alternative.
- Environment. All of the business experts say that a key part of lasting change is having the right environment. We must surround ourselves with people and activities that are conducive and supportive to the change we want.
Do you belong to an organization or group now that is composed of like-minded business owners who are intimately familiar with your operation? If not, then the first change you may want to make in 2009 is to seek out and join a suitable industry organization dedicated to your business development and improved profitability. That change alone just may be what you need to start effecting real change in your business – and in your life.