Category Archives: Coaching

Who Are You Accountable To?

9.2.15Accountability is never to a number. Accountability is always to a person.

Simon Sinek

The question in the headline: “Who are you accountable to?” is a sticky one for entrepreneurs, especially if they are small business owners who are performing every function of the business–product creation, sales/marketing, administration, production, leadership and chief technician.  You wear all the hats and are frankly accountable to no one but yourself.  Most likely, that is why you started your own business.

In fact, the nature of the question actually insinuates you should be accountable to someone other than yourself.  But, is that true?  Isn’t it possible that you can and will be the person that you are accountable to, and that you as a solopreneur have the ability to compartmentalize your functions so that you can be accountable to yourself?  Yes!  That is possible.  What is important is that you are accountable to someone, even if that someone is YOU.

So, what is accountability?  According to the Webster’s Dictionary –Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

The strength of the definition is in the phrase to account for one’s actions.  In order to be able to be accountable, one has to design measurable results for each of the functions of the business.  The measurable results are most powerful when they are quantifiable, specific, and also have a “by when” date attached.  When you do that then you have set up a way to be accountable to yourself.  Your planning does not have to elaborate, but it does have to have at least the minimum categories of what, by when and how much.  There are a ton of ways to plan for your business offered both on the internet and in business books.  Keeping in mind that simple plans are usually easier to implement than detailed plans with minute categories and subcategories.

Following this simple plan based on accountability will give you the structure you need to review the success of your business.  It will also make your business successful since you are being accountable for its success.  As your business grows you may want to engage someone to work with you to continue to grow your business.  If you already have a habit of accountability, you will be able to expect others who you hire to be accountable too.  Accountability allows you to set a standard of performance that will ensure that your business is outstanding.

Focus! Action!

8.12.15“To be great is not a word but work that makes a word.”
― Auliq Ice, Song writer, Author

Today, I want to discuss with you, the next stage of your business, after you have landed on creating your next new offering or service and dreamed of the sure to be eventual success of this next step.  The stage that most people don’t think of or want to think of is the amount of concentration that will have to be given to making the offer be a success.  That stage is called being in concentration.

So what is concentration?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: the act of giving your attention to a single object or activity—then a pop up notice says: “Concentration is currently in the bottom 50% of lookups on Merriam-Webster.com.”  This made me laugh out loud.  Of course it is at the bottom of the list of words looked up.  No one wants to be in concentration nor do they even want to know about it—that includes YOU and ME.  However, concentration is the energy that takes creation and makes something happen.

Concentration is the ability to focus on what we want to accomplish, and to do the work necessary to bring it into reality.  It is a high and difficult state of mind to maintain.  This is the state of trying out things and failing.  We are so wanting it to happen that we keep on trying things until something sticks.  Being in the state of concentration is intense; it requires a determination to succeed.  And when we succeed it is certainly worthy of at least a mini fiesta.

How to know when you are in the stage of concentration is pretty easy.  You are single minded.  What there is to do is work.  This is where you sometimes forget to take care of yourself.  You do still need to eat and sleep!

There are times when you are on your knees because you have not met your goals.  What I have found that works for people who are wiped out like this is to admit that they are in concentration.  There is something magical about just saying what is authentic and true: I am in concentration now; this is hard.  When we are not clear about this state of concentration we suffer in silence—that is when we are likely to quit.

Am I telling you to complain bitterly to anyone who is around you?  No!  I am saying that you need to have someone who you trust to talk to when you are in this state.  I am talking about someone who is as committed to your success as you are.  And someone who will not be manipulated by you and let you off the hook of being in concentration.

To me being in concentration is a very high state of being.  I admire you and salute you.  I am also here for you, if you want to talk.

 

Photo courtesy of Frame Angel FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Let’s Start Something!

7.29.15It doesn’t matter when we start.  It doesn’t matter where we start.  All that matters is that we start.
-Simon Sinek

The starting principle that Sinek refers to sounds easy to people who are in the stands watching the players play the game.  What game, you ask?  The game of entrepreneurship.  What I have found as an entrepreneurial coach is that unlike great athletes who know they are going for the championship, entrepreneurs usually wait until they are painfully stuck to call in help.  Notice my use of the word painfully.  It is not until they are feeling pain that they contact a coach.  Many times they have been uncomfortable for quite a while before they finally decide to take the first action to resolve the problem.

In taking that first the action, other actions are easier to take.  And usually within a few weeks, they have results that were not going to happen anyway.  This sounds like magic; however it’s not; they have started something, and when you start something, a shift occurs in how you do things; opportunities present themselves, opportunities that you hadn’t seen before.

Here is how to make something happen:

  • Be willing to fail.
  • Keep your word.
  • Measure for results.
  • Be willing to be held to account.
  • Be responsible for what happens in your business.

And yes, a person can do it by themselves and some do.  However, having a trusted adviser or mentor engaged with you, the process goes faster and usually is a lot more fun.

If you are stuck and want some support, please contact me.  Together we will start something!

 

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Is Your Next Play?

7.22.15We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

-Randy Pausch

As a business coach I work with highly talented, diverse entrepreneurs.  In order to provide the best coaching for each one, it is useful to step back to observe how the client deals with challenges.  In regards to solving challenges, there is no one way suits all response to a challenge.  I find that many of my clients think there is a manual about what they should do to be successful, but it must be a secret manual since they haven’t been able to buy it at the bookstore.  The result is torturous hours of second guessing about what is the right thing to do in order to succeed and turn the challenge into a success.

When I find one of my clients in the grip of this, I suggest that he begin to look at why he is responding to the next challenge that way.  Another way to say it is, what is the payoff in the delaying technique of second guessing yourself?  What is keeping you from being in action right now?

Usually, the blocking point is you are afraid you will do the wrong thing.  If you do the wrong thing, you will waste his time and money, if you waste time and money then you will fail.  The result is that everything stops.  It is a vicious circle of spinning wheels.  The fastest way to get out of the spin is to be courageous and do something even if it’s wrong.  If you do something wrong then you know that that action doesn’t work; you still have a number of actions to try, one of which will always lead you to meeting the challenge.

The point, as Randy Pausch said, is how we play the hand.  Do we hide in indecision or do we move boldly forward.  I am betting you choose the latter because you prefer action not indecision.  You are brave and a winner.

I am here in the stands cheering for you!

 

Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Ways to Unblock Your Creativity

7.15.15I have come to believe that creativity is our true nature, that blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Here we are, midyear and you are exhausted—spent—you have no more creativity left.  Who cares anyway?  Why bother?

And then, when you are tired of sighing into your tea cup, you wonder, what can I do to refresh and revitalize my creativity?

When my creativity is blocked, I use Google to search for inspiration.  I found this beautiful list curated by Katherine Brooks, Huffington Post to see the entire list go to: 19 Daily Habits Of Artists That Can Help Unlock Your Creativity  I have taken some literary license to expand on the ideas that particularly sing to me.  I hope that they will be of support to you too.

  • Do a horrible first draft of your idea, do not try to make it perfect the first time.
  • Have fun and play more
  • Tell your inner critic to shut up—it is never right—never, ever
  • Establish “me” time every day.  And then keep it.
  • If you feel stuck, ask for help.
  • Take the time to clean up your creative space so that it invites you to come in
  • Be impulsive
  • Be willing to fail
  • Change how you do things and when you do things; this will shake up your routine.
  • Pay attention to everyday life and what it is teaching you.

These are just some ideas of course, you may have your own magic potion which unblocks your creativity every time.  If you do, please share about it.    We all get stuck sometimes and can use a creative stimulus to push us forward.

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For Hire- Inquire Within

7.1.15July 1 marks the ending and a new beginning of your business quarter.  How is your business doing?  Are you hitting your targets?  Exceeding them?  Bravo!

For those of you who cannot celebrate such business success, perhaps it is time to consider hiring a business coach.

I know, I know, this is shameless promoting of my services.  Please stick with me and see if any of the following pain points ring true for you.

  • You are stuck for creative ideas for marketing your solution for your target markets’ pain points.
  • You want to move faster in signing up new clients.
  • You have a business but no private life because you are working all the time.
  • You want extraordinary results in your business.
  • You become easily distracted and don’t implement the simple steps that would insure your business success.
  • You want a second opinion from someone who knows about managing successful businesses.
  • You are in your comfort zone and need to have a breakthrough.

If you answer yes to any of the above statements, it is time to seriously consider hiring a business coach.

It is worth your time to interview some business coaches to see if you are a match.  And, don’t be shy about letting the potential coach know that you are browsing around to see what a coach can offer you with your particular conundrum in business.  They will understand and not make you feel uncomfortable.  If they don’t understand and leave you feeling “icky” about the interview, that person is not the coach for you.

And, you can call me!  My first consultation is free and I would love to meet you!  You can reach me for an appointment at susanjamescoach.com.

 

5 Questions To Ask Before You Start A Business

6.3.15There are few things more exhilarating than having an idea for a new business, if you have the entrepreneurial spirit of adventure, “can do” and any thing is possible.  Entrepreneurs can see a pot of gold at the end of every good idea.  It is that spirit that I appreciate about entrepreneurs and it’s why I am a business coach.  It’s their energy and enthusiasm that lights me up.  Enthusiasm and the “can do” spirit have created many great innovative services that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.

Recently I was approached by a colleague about a new idea.  I was excited for her; I could see that this idea would work.  I know she has the spirit, the intelligence and the drive to pull it off.  I also could see how she could make a lot of money with her idea.

But!

Before she quit her day job and plunged into implementing this new idea, I recommended that she ask herself the following 5 questions.

  1. Who is your target market?
  2. How can you know that that target market actually wants or needs the service?  What problems will you be solving to meet the needs of the target market?
  3. How will your service be different from those of your competitors?  Keeping in mind that there are already solutions being offered, how is your solution to the target market’s problem better?
  4. What will be the “WOW” factor of your business service?  Jeanne Liedtka, a design and innovation expert at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business says this about the “WOW” factor: “That’s the intersection of something that customers want, that you can create, and that’s likely to have a profitable business model associated with it.”
  5. How much capital do you need to fund the foundation and maintenance of the business before it turns a profit?

These questions are not the only ones to answer, however, they are great starting out inquiries to allow your new entrepreneurial adventure to succeed.  Actually spending time with these questions will point you in the direction that will be most effective in getting your business started up.

If you get stuck along the way, please call me.  I am here to partner with you to make your business idea be as successful as you dream it will be.

 

Photo by Renjith Krishnan from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If Profit Isn’t Your Business Purpose…What Is?

4.29.15Profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result.  To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others. 

-Simon Sinek

The most important contribution that a business coach can make is to keep the client in touch with their purpose.  When a client has lost touch with his purpose he usually has a meltdown, begins frothing at the mouth, mad with desire for more and more profit.

I am not exaggerating.  Think about it.  When you lose touch with your purpose in life, you go adrift; you begin to flop about like a fish out of water.  You say you’re out of touch with yourself.  You may display it in various ways: eating too much or too little, over drinking, over shopping, or finding that you gleefully hate everyone around you and the horse that they rode in on as well.

I have worked with people who do not know why they are starting their business since making pots of money seems like the best purpose in the world to them.  It takes some time and detective work for us to coax out the real purpose of their business, and once we find their purpose, hidden under plots and schemes to make money, it’s as if the world shifts and implementing their business plan becomes easy, effortless, and triumphant.

I have also worked with people who have lost touch with their purpose.  They are listless, not creative, and generally think that anything and everything is too much to handle.  They end up being a big “no” to suggestions and good ideas.  When this occurs in a coaching session, it is my signal to question their purpose.  What I mean by that is: Why did you start this business?  Usually, the response is to make money.  The tone of their voice indicates to me that everyone knows that.

Of course, that is not why they are in business.  They started their business with a vision and mission that had nothing to do with money.  Money, as Simon Sinek says, is the result of fulfilling the purpose.

To me, the most important conversation I can have with someone is “what is your purpose?”  Try it out for yourself.  Have a conversation with someone about their purpose and watch them light up with enthusiasm.

I offer a free consultation to anyone who is interested in discussing their purpose and how to make it real.  Call me.

 

Help! I Am Lost In The Dark Unknown

4.22.15One of my clients came to his coaching call completely despondent.  He said, “I need a double session today—I am totally upset and completely confused.”  Somewhat surprising, given that this client has turned his business around since we began working together.  He has had enormous sales, and has the concrete potential for tripling his income over the next few months.

“Goodness Gracious!  What happened?”

Once we got clear about his concerns, we were able to distill them into one overriding worry—it was going to cost him capital to reach the next level of sales.  He didn’t know how much but he was certain it would be thousands of dollars.  Really?

We began by getting clear about the next step he was to take in order to fulfill on pending orders.  Once that step was done, we began to itemize the costs, one by one, including the minute details that worried him so much.  When we finished he was astounded by how little capital he really needed to use in order to achieve the next sales goal.

I am not minimizing the fear that the client was experiencing.  I think it’s very human to react to our fears.  The important lesson from this experience is: When you are worried about achieving something, and the worry gets blown out of proportion, talk with someone who is committed to your success, but is not invested in achieving the result.  I am recommending that you get a second or third opinion about what is really holding you back.  This client could have stopped the progress that he was making by letting his fear overtake his momentum.  Instead he admitted to his fear, communicated about it, and then together we could make it doable and achievable.

Promise yourself that the next time you are stopped by something in your path to success that seems overwhelming, you will seek another opinion.  You have people who can assist you to look at things from an alternate perspective.  They can help you in developing a workable way to achieve your goal.  Solutions abound if you let them occur and just ask.

 

Does Coaching Work? A Golf Story

10.8.14Yesterday my husband told me, “Susan, I finally understand what coaching is all about.”

Until this past May he had not hit a golf ball for almost 50 years.  Now he is playing again and last week he actually won a round.

What he said was that one of his golfing partners started to very subtly give him some coaching.  He did what the “coach” said and his game improved.  The next time they went out together to play, the “coach” pointed out some more things about his swing.  My husband says he listens carefully to the coach, puts in the correction—and his game improves.  The last time they played, he won a round.  He was delighted. “I beat the coach,” he said—but then he laughed, “Of course on the back nine he slaughtered me.”  He went on to say, “This is what you do with your coaching clients—you point out things they can’t see, and when they put in the correction they win at the game of business.”

He is right.  Coaching is all about listening to the coach then being in action with whatever the coach says to do.  It works like magic when the client does it that way.

So then, why do people continue to hire a coach?  If this is all so easy, one would think that there would be thousands of successful businesses and thousands of unemployed coaches.  What is the factor that stops the magic of coaching?  Resistance.

What is resistance?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as: refusal to accept something new or different: effort made to stop or to fight against someone or something: the ability to prevent something from having an effect

Think about it.  As humans we are a huge resistance machine.  We don’t like change, and we certainly don’t like being told what to do.  We work very hard at avoiding the domination of another person, even if we are paying this person to advise us.  Crazy huh?  And yet, you know I am right.

When we give up resisting the coach, our game gets better; when we don’t give it up we continue to play the same old golf game.

I look forward to your comments. What do you resist? What are willing to give up in order to experience success? I look forward to hearing from you.