Before I start where I left off last week, I need to clear something. You see last week I suggested that a number of attendees at my seminar may not have taken action. Thus, it seems, may have upset a few people. I received a few emails explaining they had taken action and one person actually sent me his business plan, which was impressive. It was also great to see that action was being taken and I know lives will be changed by using these proven strategies, which makes me very happy indeed.
With that over with, let’s start. Last week I advised that if you want your business’s pants (or dress) to be on fire and achieve much greatness you really need a business advisor, mentor or coach as you will not achieve as much on your own. People think these are all the same. They are not and it makes sense to understand each.
A business advisor sits with you and helps you find the gaps in your business and organise a strategic plan for your business to grow. They can make life uncomfortable and ask serious questions based on their knowledge, experience and qualifications. It’s uncomfortable because they are going to ask questions you don’t want to answer and they have a tendency to tell it to you as it is, even if you don’t want to hear it. And sticking your fingers in your ears won’t help much. They just tend to ignore this.
There will come a point in time when you will hate your advisor for a while. I am convinced I have a few clients who have spent days planning on how they are going to torture me and one has admitted that they researched how they could inflict craters on my face. This terrifies me and I have nightmares about what my new Linkedin photo would look like. But here’s the thing. As a business owner, you are accountable and you will have full respect for the business advisor. Always. Which is why I have never been tortured. And it’s also why I don’t have any craters on my face.
A mentor is someone you bounce ideas off and gives you ideas. They don’t actually get involved in the nitty gritty of getting the job done. Their job is simply being a sounding board and pointing you in the right direction. There is no accountability.
A coach is someone who identifies blocks and hindrances that stop you progressing and helps you eliminate them. Again there is no accountability unless you have expressly agreed this beforehand.
I often ask business owners who their mentors are. It is not unusual for the answer to be a high profile, highly successful business person. Think Richard Branson and you get the picture. There are, however, one or two problems with this. Firstly, I don’t know anyone who actually has Sir Richard’s phone number which means unless you have a telepathic connection with him it is a bit difficult to bounce ideas off him. Secondly, anything you read about his business may sound great, interesting and fun, but if your business is not set up like his it’s not really going to work. It’s a bit like inviting some vegetarians for dinner and instead of giving them a few carrots you present them with chicken. The result could be catastrophic.
So work out what you need. Ideally you want all three. I often go into all three roles and my client will not realise I have. The lines are not clear cut.
What else should you look for?
Well, you want someone who actually has business experience. And I don’t mean ‘ we have been in business for 3 billion years’ type experience. Find someone who has actually worked with businesses and helped those businesses grow. They have track record and your chances of success has just increased tenfold.
Generally, avoid anyone who has not been in business themselves or newly qualified students. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are some very good coaches who may have the theoretical knowledge, but there is no substitute for actual experience. They cannot understand the emotions and complexities that go with running a business and all the hats you have to wear. For them sacking an employee is easy, but for you it could be a traumatic experience. They just won’t get it unless they have experienced it.
Do not be afraid to tell your advisor what growth you expect them to achieve with you. If you want $200,000 extra sales make sure they know and if they are not confident on how they are going to do it, look elsewhere. Aim high – if you are taking on an advisor, you really want them to show you strategies that are going to grow your business by at least 6 figures – yes that’s right a minimum of $100,000 if you are a small business.
Also avoid ‘one strategy fits all’ type of advisor. This is very common with franchise business advisors. They use one style strategy for all businesses. I have been doing this for 15 years and one thing I have learnt is that one strategy for all does not work for everyone. Every business owner is different which means the best strategy for you might be very different from someone else. You want your advisors to work out a specific strategy for you and not working off a pre-printed checklist.
Sometimes the value of what your advisor does can be priceless. If your advisor reduces the amount of time you spend in the business (my specialty) so you can see your child play soccer or read at school what is that worth? One of my clients recently told me that my involvement in their business has actually saved their marriage. For them this is priceless. For me it brings tears to my eyes and reminds me why I got into this business in the first place – to make a difference.
Finally, if you really want someone with a big boot to kick your butt to the moon please expect to pay for it. Good people cost money. It’s easy to say ‘I cannot afford it.’ So make sure you ask yourself the right question. ‘If I spend $30,000 on this advisor and he grows my business by $150,000 is it worth it?’ Don’t concentrate on the $30,000 – focus on what can be achieved. And then make sure you both achieve it.