Thursday, March 24, 2011

As more and more business coaches start their own practices and some of them even provide coaching on business planning for organisations large and small, the question is if the coaches them selves actually have business plans? Practice what you preach the saying goes and this is certainly the relevant here. Not only will it help you as the coach to understand what your coachee is experiencing but also of course support you in running and maintaining a profitable practice.

As a business coach you may not have a background in consulting or banking and may hence not have the knowledge on where to start your business plan and what to include. The following few pointers will clarify this for you and your team.

A business plan describes how an organization intends to achieve its key goals. For an organization proposing to conduct coaching, the plan should specify details about how activities helping clients (through guidance and support) to improve their functional skills will be accomplished. The plan should include a mission statement, short executive summary and a statement of financial goals. In difficult economic times, a business coach might be seen as an expendable luxury, so be sure to state your business case in a compelling manner.

Plan Elements

Before you begin writing your plan, get some background information. Use the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches website to learn about rules (the industry is self-regulating), standards and research. Then, craft your mission statement by yourself or with a focus group. This statement should describe who you plan to target as potential clients (for example, individuals in businesses, organizations, institutions or governments at all levels of experience). Write a brief executive summary describing why the timing is right for your venture. State your credentials for conducting a coaching business. Demonstrate that you have the experience and expertise to be credible and produce desired results. Your objective is to create excitement about your intentions.

The middle of your business plan or proposal should be devoted to listing the services you will provide to uniquely support your clients in an era of continual corporate change. Such services should include observing, conducting assessments, and teaching core skills (such as communication, negotiation, facilitating and decision-making.) Also, depict additional leadership preparation activities your organization will provide, such as arranging internships with influential business and community managers. Explain how you are pricing and packaging these services, possibly citing the rates of potential competitor portfolios. Be prepared to defend why your business plan will meet or exceed the expectations of stakeholders.

Devote a section of your plan to listing any investment expenditures you plan to make, such audiovisual equipment for recording role-play exercises or training you intend to purchase to prepare your staff. Analyze the cost of running a coaching business and set target operational goals. Be realistic about the revenue required to operate a coaching organization in your area.

Finally, define the coaching process as you would market it to potential clients. Coaching involves observing, giving feedback and setting improvements. Helping clients recognize faulty behavior is a time-consuming process. So, ensure you state realistic expectations as you establish strategies for helping clients acknowledge their strengths and weakness, seek out constructive feedback, accept shortcomings, maintain self-control, keep a healthy perspective and deal with ambiguity. Explain your promotion strategy.

You will be most successful when you understand a client's needs and suggest meaningful solutions to their most pressing problems. Creating a solid business plan with concrete deals will ensure your organization will achieve its goal of establishing a coaching business.

Monday, December 13, 2010

With businesses large and small facing severe challenges in he current economical climate, the question is why is it that only certain businesses and industries seem to be struggling. Surely the same economic conditions apply to everyone? Looking at research studies and results created by various firms, this does not seem to be the case. The key to getting through challenging times is often ensuring that you have a flexible business plan.

Unsurprisingly when looking at organisations such as Hewlitt Packard, Electorlux, Apple computers and a few select others it seems that th impact of the economy has had much less of an impact. The answer to their success in not a ingenious formula, superior promotional or prices strategies but good old fashioned marketing research and product and service development in response to their findings. It comes down to the simple fact that we need to be sensitive to the needs of our clients and respond to their changing needs on a continuous basis.

As a small business owner at the moment, talking about growth seems almost unheard of. So what can we do as small business owners in order to grow our businesses.

1) Be positive in what you do, with who you communicate and the messages you give to your clients
2) Understand your clients, know what their needs are, how they change on a continuous basis and what is important to them
3) Communicate with your clients. Speak to them, ask them questions, and react to what they tell you.
4) Don’t remain stuck with what use to work last year. Your winning formula for business needs to incorporate change or you will find yourself as part of a statistic of failure.
5) Be pro-active in product and service development, be innovative with what you offer your clients and continuously do more of what works and less of what does not.

A great way to implement the above, and something that continues to work for organisations as diverse as the BBC, Harvard Medical School and more small businesses than what you can imagine is, the utilisation of a business coach. If your business is looking for growth, change or increased profit, do yourself a favour and start working with a Coach, even if it is initially only on a short term trail basis.

To your success,

Ben Botes

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Whether entrepreneurship an be taught or if you need to be born with it has been an ongoing debate for decades. Unlike business planning where business plan software can be used to cross the skills gap fairly effectively, entrepreneurship itself may be much more difficult to learned and especially practiced. It takes courage, creativity, vision, will power, a strong need for achievement and ambition and a host of other characteristics that may be very attractive for many individuals but fairly rare to live and practice.

In an interesting article, Anthony Farr writes - For decades, entrepreneurship has been viewed as something risky and mysterious that only a few lucky mavericks could master. This perception has been fuelled by a public reverence for successful individuals, who seem to have had no formal training to which their entrepreneurial success could be attributed. Some educational institutions have also shunned or quashed entrepreneurship as a non-discipline, something unteachable and incongruous with traditional discipline-based courses.

Whilst the significance of entrepreneurship for a country’s economy is rarely disputed, the much-debated question is whether entrepreneurship is an elusive and exclusive “talent” that is inherent in some, or whether it can be taught and therefore extended to a wider segment of the population who will contribute to the growth of its economy. But I believe that entrepreneurship can be taught and that it is a process that begins with rethinking its definition.

Redefining entrepreneurship
“Our perception of entrepreneurship has to echo that of innovation and entrepreneurship” writes author, Peter Drucker, in his assertion that entrepreneurship is not magic; it’s not mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. “It is a discipline and like any discipline, it can be learned.” The first step is to realise that entrepreneurship is much more than starting a business. It is an innovation and opportunity driven attitude and mindset that is applicable across all areas of activity.

It therefore cannot be oversimplified or categorised as a subject to be done. The application of this understanding is especially crucial when it comes to instilling an entrepreneurial ethos at school level.

The role of educators
Education, its methodologies and content, life orientation tasks, camps, projects, role models etc, should activate an awareness of opportunities and be holistic. They have to be built into every school activity and not planned as another subject on the curriculum.
In this information age, schools should create endless opportunities for activating information through developing children’s ability to have insights which are then converted into permanent habits.

The role of curriculum designers and teachers cannot be stressed enough: Curriculum designers should be paying attention to cultivating, encouraging, and activating the mindsets that are required as prerequisites for business start-up, whilst teachers should develop cross-cutting methodologies that are used in all subjects that then become the creative vehicles for developing entrepreneurial attitudes.

This way, by the time pupils leave school they are prepared to participate entrepreneurially in anything they do. However, this is not an education that remains in the classroom. Parents would be well advised to look for opportunities to foster creativity and new projects with their children.
The role of government
According to Kristie Seawright, Executive director of the Global Economic Monitor, in order for entrepreneurship training to be productive in low-income countries, it needs to be complimented by beneficial government policies, infrastructure, and other basic requirements.
The first stage of instilling entrepreneurship as a culture is by rewarding it socially and financially by society. Whilst the social reward comes from each and everyone one of us celebrating and encouraging entrepreneurial individuals, the financial reward is primarily the government’s responsibility.

In many ways government controls the balance of a country’s risk reward equation, which is a key component in incentivising entrepreneurial activity. A key first action that government must take is to de-stigmatise financial failure. Bankruptcy related laws need to be amended to ensure that one business failure does not mean the end of a person’s career, but rather becomes a learning opportunity for future entrepreneurial success.

Yet there are two sides to this equation and government would be well advised to leverage the rewards on offer for entrepreneurial endeavour – a quick win would be by means of greater taxation concessions for start-up companies.

It is crucial for a developing country such as ours to stimulate and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit to achieve the much-required economic transformation and a stronger presence in the global economy.

There are no lucky individuals who magically acquire entrepreneurial success, just as there are no predictable traits that will give them a competitive entrepreneurial edge. There is no consistent profile of an entrepreneurial individual. Some are extroverted, others the opposite. The only common thread found across entrepreneurs is a deep desire for achievement and a discontent with the current status of a particular context.

In much the same way that a consistent proportion of the population across different countries excels at mathematics, it is likely that a similar proportion of the population are entrepreneurs. It is believed that this proportion is approximately 20%. In South Africa the actual level of entrepeneurship currently sits at 5% which leaves us with a deficit of 15%.
We need to understand why this deficit exists and attempt to unleash the latent entrepreneurial activity that should exist within that 15% .

These individuals do not need to be taught entrepreneurship as much as opened up to the possibility and then to be encouraged to exercise their natural ability in this area.
This does not exclude the remaining 80% of the population group where the question of nurture vs nature and whether entrepreneurship can be taught becomes even more amplified.
Not everyone can be an entrepreneur; however, it is imperative that the skills and attitudes of an entrepreneurial mindset are adopted more widely in response to the increased rate of change in society.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007