Business coach Simac Konkader presents at an SME leaders summit
Business coach Simac Konkader presents at an SME leaders summit

Member Article

4 Ways that small business leaders can harness a business coach to grow, from Simac Konkader

Once again SMEs are powering growth in the British economy. But international economic shocks, chaotic supply chains and increasing red tape are making life tricky on the one hand, while opportunites to grow are there on the other hand. To navigate this changing climate, many leaders are turning to business coaches to help them adapt and thrive.

One of these is Greater London-based business coach Simac Konkader, who helps SME leaders unlock growth for their businesses. One recent success was creating a whopping extra £100k in a month for a recycling business. What follows is his advice, from thousands of hours of successful coaching, on how leaders can get the most out of working with an advisor.

Growing a business is a process of change often into the unknown. By definition, growth pushes a business leader out of their present comfort zone towards a new frontier where they haven’t been, certainly with their present business in the current market. Whether it’s hiring your first employees, moving into bigger premises, hitting a major sales goal or lining up an acquisition, they will be in foreign territory. A leader could be moving from ‘chief cook and bottle washer’- the classic founder doing every role from owner to delivery to finance - to a more strategic or specialist role, but they must move regardless of whether they know it or like it.

To increase their chances of success, many enlist a coach. Indeed, 92% of small business owners agree that mentors have had a direct impact on their growth and their chances of business survival (study by Kabbage), and a third of small business founders that are mentored by successful coaches become top performers (according to an Endeavour/TechCrunch study).

The success or failure of retaining a coach however depends as much on the client’s willingness to learn and grow as it does the skills and experience of the coach. Indeed, the leader her or hisself is the one who must grow if the business is to do likewise. Whether they’re a founder, exec or manager, the majority (70%) of coachees reap the benefits of improved work performance, communication, and relationships (Institute of Coaching) and a huge 80% report increased self-confidence.

So how can you optimise the coaching experience to create a win-win as a coachee and your business? Based on years of experience, expert business coach Simac Konkader has four key recommendations to ensure you set up a coach for success.

  1. Adopt an ‘open book’ approach Accessibility is vitally important in the coaching process. But it’s not just about access to your business information, its systems, performance data, strategy and the like; that’s important, but just as critical is access to you. Obviously that means your time, energy and focus, but less obviously it means your vulnerability.

Warts and all Know that the better a coach understands your business, its history, values, leadership models, and current challenges, the more effective their feedback will be. This is especially important when the coaching is focused on developing leadership capabilities, communication skills, collaboration, and self-awareness. Also, offering a window into the client’s conversations with coworkers will enable your coach to see firsthand how the executive relates to and is perceived, enabling them to better support the executive and the company.

Time Growth places huge demands on time, so it can feel counterproductive to spend time working ‘on’ the business and your own growth, when you’re spinning so many plates ‘in’ your business. Counter-intuitively, that’s exactly why you need to make time setting up your business for the next phase of growth. And with that time, you must put the same energy and focus into your coaching journey as you would delivering for your customer. In fact, treat your business like it is a customer, a VIP one at that.

Vulnerability Accessibility is also about being open-minded and prepared to show vulnerability. Entrepreneurs often avoid asking for help, seeing it as a weakness or fearing it will expose them in some way. Ironically this increases their chances of plateauing. Instead, suggests the mindset coach of former world tennis number one Ash Barty, rather than battle vulnerability, accept it. It will mean you’re “more open, more open-minded, more curious, creative, innovative. And you are incredibly compassionate — first for yourself.” And when you do that, you and your coach can identify what you need and help address it.

Excited to learn It’s one thing to hold a leadership role, but it’s another entirely to do the deep work that learning to lead entails. Entrepreneurship is a journey of personal change, so being open to learning and having insatiable enthusiasm for it is key. Resisting the developmental journey of leadership is like going on a dream wildlife safari but never leaving your tent. Committing to being excited and interested in continuous learning and development as a leader will keep you fresh and vital.

2. Prepare to tolerate real discomfort Remember the growing pains I mentioned up front? Well, there will be moments of discomfort in your coaching journey. Your coach will expect you to be proactive in embracing new ways of perceiving and acting. The good news is that it should be worth it. One client I worked with had, like many, missed large tracts of his children’s lives due to smashing out 60-70 hours of work per week. Worried that a change in approach would damage his team’s respect of him, not to mention a nose dive in revenues, he nevertheless persisted. Though at first he experienced real discomfort caused by dramatically reducing his hours, improving his working relationships with his staff and additionally implementing new systems to make his business run better, the discomfort was worth it when he gained time, respect and a record breaking revenue increase. Most coachees experience fear or emotional blocks about new realisations, realities and recommendations. Enduring these periods of discomfort will enable you and your business to grow.

**3. Test and learn **

Whether you’re at the beginning of your business leadership career or an experienced leader, every month and each new milestone creates new norms, expectations and assumptions about what works. Patterns soon emerge, but not all of them will be right for your next stage of business or personal growth. Inevitably, you will need to do something different. But trying something new means taking risks, and experiments with new behaviors may not work the first time.

Your business coach will advise against waiting for the perfect timing or perfect performance. They will recommend removing such obstacles that stand in the way of progress.

Of course, you will have some answers about what has worked already. But if you think you already have the answers and are unwilling to explore new options, you are unlikely to be open or do the necessary reflection to change. You have to try out new ideas and actions, fail, learn, and try again.

4. Positive mindset

Bringing a positive mindset to your coaching sessions is vitally important to get the most of them. Indeed, as a practice, positivity can improve your business, too. On the flip side of that coin, a US study showed that negative thinking cost its economy $500 billion according to the American Psychological Association.

Positive mindsets, on the other hand, help problem solving. In fact, Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology professor who has written extensively about positivity, found that those who think positive thoughts have a greater capacity to take on board new information. This then improves a person’s perspective and ability to “connect the dots,” enabling them to tackle any problems and obstacles that may arise.

People who think positivity generates more energy and tend to be more resilient. And resilience is a quality every leader needs, particularly entrepreneurs. Fredrickson states that “positive emotions help speed recovery from negative emotions,” even if the positive thinking is self-generated. There are many ways to help cultivate a positive mindset in a coachee, and tips and tricks to help make it a practice for life.

Of course, as a coach I urge positive action, as thinking is never enough on its own. For me, there are many parts to this but they include being inspired, dreaming big, setting clear goals and enabling your coach to keep you accountable on what should be the business journey of a lifetime. This in itself can be exciting; having a map for where you’re going, and someone to keep you on track is in itself positive action.

Entrepreneurs in particular tend to have more challenges than other leaders, as they are always pushing at the edge of their comfort zone and sometimes blazing a trail in the sector. They might be making mistakes that no-one has yet solved. For them, remaining positive through uncertainty, and having a solution-oriented mindset, is fundamental to help them take action to succeed.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Rob McDonald .

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