Coaching is often likened to the fitness world, and this is especially true at this time of year. As the end of January approaches ('Dry’ or otherwise), a number of Small Business owners and managers are once again realising that many of their New Year resolutions are unlikely to carry as far as February. Like the folk who have set those 'Get fit/lose weight’ etc goals, Small Business owners are planning for an improved year now that the old one has finished.

January can be one of my quieter months (although not always), as businesses return from the festive break and look to making the New Year their best ever. At this point there is often a huge confidence in their own ability to follow the path they are planning.

The more enlightened businesses quickly realise that some of these goals are deja vue goals, and other goals are going to need more than enthusiasm to get them from dreams into reality. Many of these businesses become my clients.

A phrase I hear consistently is ‘I don’t just WANT this to be my/our best year, I NEED it to be’ and so they will hire me to be their critical friend, champion and occasional “velvet kick up the bum” (as a previous client labelled me). For some, this will be my usual model of 4, 6 or 8 sessions over the course of 3 or more months; for others this will be a contract for the whole year. This whole year model is typically a half morning or afternoon, once a month, in which they use the coaching time to reflect and plan, ensuring that milestones are being reached, new ones planned in, and any unexpected changes that have arisen are accommodated.

The joy for all of these clients is that they can share ANYTHING to do with their business with me and I have no vested interest or agenda that may sway their thinking or planning. I am a sounding board who reflects back what I am hearing, noticing and remembering from previous sessions. The life of the Small Business owner can be quite an immediate one, and being reminded of what they said 6 months ago is often very helpful. It helps them keep a sense of perspective and to hold the important things high in their priorities.

Unlike the Corporate world where making changes is compared with manoeuvring a super-tanker, the Small Business world can have changes that turn on a sixpence (or 5p in modern currency!) It is not unusual for me to learn that key parts of an office have changed, or key clients or members of staff have come or gone in the time between our meetings. 

My questions to the client then are very much about what they have learned from this, and what they will do in the future as a result of this. (It isn’t always what they will do differently, sometimes these sudden changes are because an opportunity has been seized and they are exactly where they want to be). I do not advise or consult, purely coach, but am very much a budgeted part of the client’s business plan.

This week it has been announced that having good soft skills adds around £88 billion to the economy. The most frequent question following that has been “What are soft skills?” followed by “Yes, but how do you measure that?” Rephrased as ‘Good customer service’ or ‘Better team relationships’ makes this more understandable, and I don’t know of a single company that isn’t looking for those sort of improvements within their business. These are the sort of area that will get clients actively looking for a coach to help them get good practice embedded into their workplace.

When I first started working in this exciting and varied world back in 2008, my clients were largely ‘white collar’ workers, office based, who worked in a desk based job. Nowadays, my clients are from a wide range of industries; the common denominator is the recognition that coaching can take them from good to great.

Having a coach onside for support and self-learning and being held accountable has:

• helped my client who wanted to be ‘off the tools and employing others’ by the time he was 30 reach that goal before his 29th birthday

• moved an unhappy employee who came to me for 1-1 coaching to a position in which she started her own company and has since gone on to employ others

• supported an owner/manager and his directors to set up other strands to a successful and thriving business while maintaining standards in the existing parts

• re-enthused an employee as she defined her role and where she fitted into the office dynamics. Her DISC profile was quite different from her colleagues which left her feeling like she didn’t fit. Using coaching and DISC to enhance her understanding of where and how she does fit renewed her enthusiasm for and confidence in her important role within that business 

• reminded an Owner/Manager why he set up the business in the first place. He now has time with his young family as he works more effectively in business hours to cite just a few examples.

As you will hopefully gather from my tone, I love what I do. Coaching a key part of our economy, helping them to learn more about themselves and how they can work even more effectively and efficiently is a huge pleasure and a privilege. It’s a great time (of year) to be Coaching in the Small Business World!

Merete is a fully qualified Master Coach and NLP Practitioner with her own business . In her work with Small Business owners she helps them develop their plans, ideas and strategies , from time management through to handling staff issues and major business choices.

Want to learn the powerful tools and techniques to accelerate your personal and business success?

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