Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Business Coaching

Nothing focuses the mind like an impending hanging. -- Samuel Johnson

We have heard this quote with various twists over the years. It is powerful because it contains an elemental truth. When our energies are scattered, nothing gets done well, many things are left undone and good ideas get bogged down among lesser ideas.

However, when a bigger, more urgent issue emerges that needs to be addressed, suddenly we can become highly efficient. Here is a practical example of business coaching I did with a person who has started and is expanding a new business.

This friend had several unrelated ventures going, but one concept has emerged as the clear winner, the best opportunity. Yet, this friend was dawdling over clearing out the less successful ventures because one day, those businesses might work out and produce income.

However, it would take a lot of work to make any of those other ventures successful at the level of supporting a person, and in the meantime, the effort to make a second concept profitable would just drain energy from the first idea.

Once my friend cleared the detritus out the office relative to all the other undeveloped and under-developed ideas, all the facts and information about the best concept were easier to focus on, and already, ideas for how to improve that business are easier to spot, and the steps to implementing those ideas are clear.

A related issue this person is facing is raising capital to fund the new business. Lines of credit are already maxed out. Taking on partners or investors means surrenduring some control of the business. The business owner does not want to share the decision making, or the profits, with other people.

An obvious solution is to sell some assets that had been acquired over the years that have some resale value. There was some sentimental attachment to these collectibles and at first, a reluctance to part with them. But once the important question was posed, letting go was clearly the solution. How much do you want this to succeed?

After all the goal is clear. Is this business viable? Does it have realistic prospects to increase to the level of supporting a person? Is this business one that you would like to be in? Can you get up every day enthusiastic about doing the work?

Then turning the collectibles into cash is a solution to the capitalization problem that allows the person to retain control of their business. If that person would have let sentiment win out over progress then the growth of the business would have been stunted, and all the timetables set back, causing the owner to struggle to live on the cash flow. Choosing to underfund the new business in order to hang on to the collectibles could ultimately result in a decision down the road to need to sell them anyway, under less favorable conditions, should the business stall or just crawl along due to lack of cash.

Sometimes we have to face the hard question of whether we are willing to give up whatever we have and strip down to a simple life in order to fuel the growth of our best business idea. It is about having confidence in our own ability. It is about putting forth a great effort with nothing held back, focusing all our attention and energy on our heart's desire in order to create a successful new business. Every business owner must take risks in order to increase their chance of success.

If we do not, we run the risk of dissipating our energies and not having a success in any venture. Yes, these are tough decisions, but when faced with the question, "What do you want to do with the rest of your life?" the necessary action focuses the mind.

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