Monday, November 24, 2014

Selecting the Right Business Coach

I suppose somewhere, someone has created an interactive matrix to increase the probability of choosing the right business coach for you to work with. It goes without saying that we are not cheap and you should weigh all of your options before you make an investment  but I'm not sure you can make that decision intellectually.

Does that make sense?

I was prepared to write a three bullet point manifesto that the blogging god's tell me is necessary for creating a superior following to my blog - The sort of "get in and get out, tease them a bit, make them want you"  Sigh, you get my point right?

I'm revising my web site and as I do I am trying to find the strategic spot to place the endorsements and testimonials I've received. A kind of "I love me page." We all have them. It dawned on me that my success as business coach boils down to this equation:

"Where are they a year from now?Are they still in business?"

If I do my job as a hybrid coach/mentor/guide, a year from now you will not only be surviving but be on the precipice of thriving, and I might add, thriving for many years to come! If you want to know a business' coaches value look at the sustainability of their clients. 

Yes, I know it's not entirely in my hands. There are a lot of factors involved which is why YOU need to make sure the person you choose has your best interest in mind.

Manner and method aren't as critical as a detailed "Where are they now?" That's the true indicator of a successful and valuable coach.

I could sit here all day and tell you about Catherine in D.C., Angie in Chicago, Dave & Jeff in Elk Grove Village, Tom in Indiana and Carl in West Virginia, but wouldn't be better if you were to pick up the phone and say:

"Hey I'm considering using this Jurkiewicz guy as a business coach. Can you tell me how he helped your business?"

Anything that helps make your decision easier is a good thing in my book. 

Dang, this is the shortest blog I've written in some time. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Run the Race You Trained to Run"

This blog was inspired by a discussion I had  with a friend. My next blog WILL deal with why working with a small business coach is vital to your survival and success. 

Do you know the reason they put blinders on race horses? It's so they don't become distracted by the performance of  other horses on the track. They can only see the finish line and run towards it.

Yes, I know, we're not animals but the process bears some examination.

When you are at the gym do you ever find yourself looking at someone  who seems to breeze effortlessly through their workout while you are wondering which part of your body may break away and fall off next? A few years ago when I was preparing to run in my first 5K I worked with a personal trainer for a few weeks  to prepare myself. Doing this at age 57, for the first time, required some guidance.

The day before the race we sat and talked. Jen looked across the table at me and said.

"Run the race you trained to run."

It's tough some days, not to compare ourselves, isn't it? We live in a culture that encourages us to behave like we are in a pack or herd so it's quite natural to look around us and notice a difference.

Maybe its not a 5K. Maybe, as entrepreneurs and small business owners we get so overwhelmed by everything, everybody tells us we are supposed to be doing that we forget to do the things that matter and we lose sight of the race we are supposed to be running. We forget why we wanted to do all the things we wanted to do, to begin with and get lost in trying to make sure we sit at the cool kids lunch table.

That Saturday in September, it was difficult to keep my focus. There were close to 1000 people in that race and the adrenalin was flying all over the place.

"Run the race you trained to run."

The last half mile of the race was up a steep and winding hill. No less than 5 times, I decided I was going to pull over to the side and walk. But I didn't. I toughed it out and weaved my way towards the finish line. I finished in a blazing 37 minutes and a few odd seconds. 

The person who finished in first place ran the race in slightly over 16 minutes.

My goal was to finish run the whole race and be standing at the end of it. I reached my goal. It wasn't pretty or inspiring, but I reached my goal. When a horse wears blinders during a race it only sees the finish line - Its goal. It doesn't know or even care if it won the race or not. It is only focused on its progress towards its goal.

That applies to our business's too. The internet has produced a dearth of experts who all know exactly what you and I are "supposed" to do in order to be successful in today's marketplace. There is always the temptation to do everything everybody else is doing.

"Run the race you trained to run."

Doing the same thing every day, over and over, without seeing much progress requires faith and patience in yourself and a reminder of your business goals .Not comparing ourselves is a difficult assignment but a necessary one.

"Run the race you trained to run."

A shout out to my friend and colleague Carrie Roldan who just released her first book Run Yourself Happy.  Check it out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apples & Oranges & Entrepeneurs

I wish I had met me 15 years ago.

I had spent the last 25 years in the traditional workforce, starting as a front line supervisor and finishing as a human resource executive. I decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur and start my own consulting business.  All the important variables were in place - my business plan, financing, space to work in, etc.What was missing was a  strategy to successfully convert from being an apple into being an orange.


Those of us who began our careers in the  traditional workplace are "apples." Apples work in a structured  environment. When I was an apple the expectation was that I'd be busy all of the time. It didn't matter if what I did added value to my companies bottom line. My employer was paying me for 8 hours of activity and  I'd better make good use of my time. My value was determined by activity and not necessarily results. Twice  monthly my paycheck arrived on my desk.

This lack of value addition is what motivated me to start my own consulting business. The two most important things I did as an HR executive was to determine the date, time and place of the Christmas Party and Company picnic and who got the preferred parking spot as employee of the month. The lawyers handled the labor issues, accounting handled benefits and payroll and my department was supposed keep tabs on attendance and morale.

When I started my own consulting business I became an "orange."  The only way I  get paid is when I produce revenue. My whole frame of reference changed.What I found out about myself was that I'd taken the behaviors and strategies that had made me a successful apple,and simply laid them, like a template, over my new orange environment. That works if your intent is to create a fruit salad. It's not the best strategy if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.   I often felt  defeated, frustrated and embarrassed. When I was an apple I was a respected executive and leader. I knew all the rules Now, it was like trying to catch greased lightening. I'll spare you the gory details but, one day the light went on, and I asked  myself

"John, are you spending your time on the right stuff?"

So, as the saying goes I worked smarter not harder. The investment of time went to those things that mattered to advance my place in the market. Some days that was 15 hours and some days it was 5. I had to shed the employee mind set. I didn't work for my clients I worked with them. But here's a story of one of my clients:

I recently began working with a client who started their own social media consulting business after spending their entire career in the traditional workforce. Our first few sessions were a bit frantic and disjointed. She had embraced her orangeness but still fell back on her apple tendencies. She looked at what was going on in the marketplace and decided that in order to feed the lingering apple desires she had to embrace everything that came down the pike whether it was pertinent to the business or not.  That way she would stay busy and get a sort of back handed affirmation in the process.

The measuring stick was activity not results. Once she began working through some of these issues and started to focus on the activities that were productive and entrepreneurial she began to see where she could add value. The time  devoted to developing  business was the time that created value. He boat wasn't sinking it just had a few leaks and didn't require an overhaul, just a few adjustments in  perception about her role in this new endeavor. She didn't need all the bells and whistles shed been lead to believe were necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, just the ones that would further her cause.

That's why I wished I'd met me 15 years ago. I would have saved me a lot of false starts and stops.

Make the investment to work with someone who can help guide you through the maze.

My next blog will talk about how to find the right person to help you on your journey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Anybody Heard From ROI?

I was driving down the road yesterday and it dawned on me that I haven't  heard from  ROI in a long time.

Please forgive me. It just dawned on me that many of you haven't been introduced. ROI is acronym for "Return On Investment." It used to be that ROI was the first thing you talked about when you got ready to spend money in you business.

The landscape changed and ROI seemed to drop down the priority list for many small business owners. Social media marketing, mass email marketing, SEO optimization, hiring a coach or consultant - All come with a price tag. If we are going to do business in today's marketplace those things are not luxuries, they're necessities. We, "gotta have em'"

So here's my question.

When do I begin to see a return on my investment or more aptly put When I do all the things you tell me to do, when does it start to pay off for me as a small business owner? 

Oh yeah, THAT.

Let's throw in a disclaimer. You business success is entirely dependent on the decisions you make or don't make over the life of your business. All the wisdom and guidance in the world wont benefit you if you don't create a solid foundation for success.

I know business owners who go from consultant to consultant and coach to coach looking for someone who will tell them what they want to hear. They hop on the Trend Train and cant understand why people aren't beating a path to their door. It's because they don't ask the right questions to the folks who want to make them rich and famous.

I cut my business teeth working for a Fortune 5 company. The reason they were so successful is that each request for expenditure was met with these questions:

  • How long before we recoup our investment? 
  • How does this make us better, stronger, improve our position in the marketplace?
  • Will it increase our competitive edge? 
  • If it's new and innovative what are its risks? 

There is always the temptation to grab the bright and shiny object before us because all the cool kids are doing so.

Is it a fit for your business?

Is it going to propel you forward or is it going to hold you back?

Just because "everyone is doing it,"...........

This company I worked with was famous for being second or third in innovation but first in ROI and successful marketing. They did it by watching other companies in their market experiment. They took good notes and when they rolled out their version of the product or service the competition was left in the dust. They did it bigger, better and were more profitable because they knew where to invest and where not to invest. It's why they are a Fortune 5

Okay, reality check time.

You and I are not Fortune 5's. We're small businesses who cant afford to absorb the miscues. The decisions we make on our investments may mean the difference between the life and death of our companies.

No, this isn't the fun stuff. It's just the necessary stuff.  Establishing an understanding of the return on your investments will help you whittle down the options you and your business have with your investments.

Now you know ROI

Next week I'm going to make the case for working with a coach and mentor as you navigate through your business journey and how to choose the one that's right for you.