Without someone you trust to bounce ideas off of, it’s hard to know if your business decisions make sense. But it’s amazing how talking through your thought process with a coach can help you put things in perspective.
Time and time again, the small business leaders weve spoken to have emphasised one key piece of advice: don’t try and do it alone. But the reality is, this isnt always possible whether it’s because you can’t get someone to buy into your game-changing idea, or your acquaintances just don’t have the risk appetite to branch out beyond their nine to five jobs.
Yet even if you havent been able to find a match made in business heaven, making big decisions without talking them through still a bad idea. While 40 per cent of British small firm owners regularly use friends and family as sounding boards for business decisions, the relatively limited popularity of life coaching in the UK compared to the hype around it in the US means there’s a pretty high chance that you havent considered it as an option.
But with just two-in-five British small business owners benefitting from any sort of management training and poor leadership cited as theexplanation for almost six-in-ten UK small business failures by recent research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute it sounds like Im not the only entrepreneur who stands to benefit from talking decisions through with a coach as I have been doing for the last couple of months.
Though Im lucky enough to run my micro business with a friend, the fact that were both juggling multiple projects at once means that our business discussions can often be focused on problem solving and operational issues, with no time to look at the bigger picture or our personal abilities to make good choices.
Indeed, speaking to the leader of a Norwegian startup incubator recently, I was struck by the emphasis on decision making which he put on the success of a small business placing it above marketing strategy and product development. Given that the country is quietly but confidently producing some of the most interesting young B2B companies in the world, this attitude is one worth paying attention to.
Of course, it’s not just decision making that British owners could do with a bit of help on were also notoriously bad at negotiating. With a track record that includes talking down the starting salary during the final interview for my management consultancy graduate job, this has been an aspect of coaching that Ive found particularly invaluable when it comes to dealing with clients and suppliers.
Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.
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