Entrepreneurial Dilemma – What is Enough

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In a recent Inc. Magazine article, contributing author Norm Brodsky spoke about the mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they get bored with the business.  Inevitably what happens, he declared, is that people venture into doing things that they are not familiar with or perhaps not even good at.  More often than not it leads to mistakes but this dilemma I would suggest has more to do with just addressing boredom.

A friend in an effort to grow her business decided to make the investment in hiring additional sales people.  It seemed like the right thing to do but the fact of the matter was that these new people could not sell the product / service like she could.  So she ended up spending a lot of money with very little return and she had to let them go; however not before it almost got her into very serious financial trouble.  However if you asked her did she regret doing this her answer is no.

The key message here is that sometimes you have to go through adversity to realize what’s most important.  Entrepreneurs will claim that they want to create and grow a successful business.  But that’s only part of the picture which can sometimes obscure the other equally important “quality of life” piece.  And interestingly, it’s often not until you make a “bad” business decision and compromise the lifestyle piece that the light bulb actually goes off.  Suddenly you have less money and time together with more anxiety.  This typically prompts an evaluation as to what truly matters and “what is enough”.

Too many entrepreneurs get caught up in thinking they want more when they already have enough.  True success lies in when you have the time and money to do what you want to do.  When you figure this out, then your business will prosper to the degree that you want and your quality of life will improve in parallel.

Entrepreneurial Tips for Professional Coaches

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In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Vincent Onyemah, Martha Rivera Pesquera, and Abdul Ali highlighted their research findings with regards to why entrepreneurs fail.  Today many people are making career transitions and setting up their own coaching practice; which is also an entrepreneurial endeavor.  So I thought it might be interesting to share these research findings relative to individuals establishing a coaching business.  The key findings are:

1. Starting Late

Once you have decided to become a coach and are going through training, try it out as soon as possible.  Put yourself out there and figure out what works best for you.  Is it in person or over the phone?  Is it weekly or biweekly?  How long should sessions last?  Some people want to wait until they have their certification and that is understandable.  But what if you just put yourself out there, be honest with prospective clients and they might be still willing to give you a try.  The key is to try things out early and accelerate the learning curve.

2. Failing to Listen

When you do get clients, solicit feedback in terms of what they like (or dislike) and what would make the process more meaningful for them.  Listen to what they say and modify accordingly.  Most successful coaches would say that they operate very differently today than when they started off.  The bigger issue is how long it might have taken to come to that conclusion.  Listen to your clients and this will also accelerate your process.

3. Offering Discounts

Even though new coaches are keen to get clients, resist the idea of offering discounts or, even worse still, doing it for free.  It only serves to compromise your value and certainly raises a question mark over the client’s commitment.  That said, pricing within the profession of coaching is a learning curve but perhaps offer more value such as unlimited e-mail or free calls (check in) outside of set sessions instead of lowering the cost.  You can always reduce your price but it’s almost impossible to raise it.

4. Selling to Family

Notwithstanding the fact that coaching family is nearly impossible, having family members purchase from you can be tainted with motives other than the value of the service being offered.  They may well be well be driven by wanting to see you succeed, make you feel good or on the other end of the spectrum, simply feeling sorry for you.  None of these are helpful in getting your business off the ground.  However don’t hesitate to use family to refer people your way.

5. Failing to Seek Strategic Buyers

This might be a little less pertinent relative to coaches starting out but the point here is still valid in terms of seeking out clients that can possibly advance your business rather than simply thinking one client at a time.  Strategic buyers in this context might be organizations with multiple client potential, sources of referrals and testimonies or individuals that can offer positive advice and feedback in terms of advancing your business.

5 Tips to Move from Entrepreneur to Effective Leader

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Do successful entrepreneurs automatically make great leaders? Are the skills that allow them to start up their business the same as will bring it to the next level? The answers to both these questions are a resounding no! The main reason is that once you hire staff, a new world sets in. If all you had to contend with before was you, what a shocker when others start looking to you to provide leadership?
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