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FAQs About My Services

I know business owners are sceptical about business advisors so let me answer the main questions you may have.

The questions I answer on this page are:

  1. Is Your Business SOS A Disguised Sales Call?
  2. Why Are You Offering A Free Business SOS With An Hour Of Your Time Talking To Me Plus The Preparation Time?
  3. Do You Really Know More About Business Than Me?
  4. Do I Need To Know A Lot About Business, I Don’t Want To Feel Stupid?
  5. If I Agree To Work With You On An Assignment, Do You Tell Me What To Do?
  6. Do You Guarantee Success?
  7. How Much Do You Cost And How Much Do I Have To Pay Upfront?
  8. If You’re So Good, Why Don’t You Have Your Own Big Business?
  9. Do You Treat All Your Clients The Same?
  10. Do You Expect A Long Commitment From Your Clients?
  11. Why Do You Only Provide Advice, Coaching And Mentoring On The Telephone?
  12. Will Working With You Take Up A Lot Of My Time?

Is Your Business SOS A Disguised Sales Call?

No.

I will genuinely spend at least 60 minutes talking to you about how you can improve your business without pushing my services. I also spend a significant amount of time preparing for each call.

I will however hope to impress you with what I know and I hope you can imagine how good it would feel to have regular focused discussions with someone like me, who can give you honest, informed feedback about your business.

Why Are You Offering A Free Business SOS With An Hour Of Your Time Talking To Me Plus The Preparation Time?

There are two main reasons:

  1. You might become a client. I hope about 20% of the SOS calls will lead into a longer relationship. There are three tests for that to happen. We both need to believe that we can solve your problem by working together, we both need to feel there is personal compatibility between us and it needs to be an opportunity worth pursuing that will give you at least 500% return on your investment on my fees.
    .
    The worst thing you can do, from my perspective, is for someone to pretend (or feel obliged) to be interested, ask about my services, verbally agree to work with me and have me prepare a written proposal and then back down. I’d much rather you tell me that you don’t think we’re right for each other or you’re not ready to make a commitment at the moment.
    .
  2. I’m semi-retired because of health problems and can only give my best to one client a day. These Business SOS calls is a way for me to give back to more people who have the courage to start or manage their own business. If you’ve found this Business SOS offer through Google Adwords, it means that I have room for a client.

Do You Really Know More About Business Than Me?

Let me be clear. No one knows more about your business than you do and I won’t know as much about your trade or profession either.

That can be an advantage. It gives me fresh eyes and a new, independent perspective. I can ask “silly questions” that can expose the weaknesses in traditional thinking and industry norms.

I also know a lot about business in general.

I have two main qualifications that are relevant. I am a chartered accountant and I have a master of business administration (MBA) which is widely recognised as the best general management qualification. I keep my knowledge up-to-date by reading a lot of business books. I have read and reviewed 353 business books on Amazon so far and I’m recognised as one of the 500 best reviewers on Amazon.

I started work in 1981 after I left university. Initially I trained as an accountant and then worked in industry and commerce, rising to the level of Finance Director. Since I was known for my commercial approach and ability to create improvements, my responsibilities widened to include sales, strategic planning, purchasing, production planning and stock control. Since 1995 I have worked for myself as a consultant, project manager, trainer, coach and mentor. Frustrated with the expensive but insubstantial courses available for mandatory continued professional education, I started to look for MBA modules I could do as separate courses. That led me to completing the MBA course through the Manchester Business School.

The idea of working together is that if we can combine your knowledge of your business and trade, with my new perspectives and extensive, general business knowledge, we can create something special.

Do I Need To Know A Lot About Business, I Don’t Want To Feel Stupid?

No, you don’t need to know a lot about business in general but you must be open to new ideas I suggest and willing to learn by reading a few books, listening to audio recordings or watching videos. Sometimes I drop in “teaching mode” but my main purpose is to help you to apply good practices and techniques in your business situation.

I also want you to be interested in looking at how other businesses operate to see what you can learn and apply. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and seeing something from the buyer’s perspective can be very enlightening.

In some ways, it is much easier to train someone who is relatively inexperienced than someone who knows a lot but who has fallen into the bad habit of not applying that knowledge.

I like to think I’m very supportive and quite patient but my role is also to encourage you to do things that you wouldn’t or couldn’t do on your own.

Quite often, my greatest insights get a response of “That’s so obvious! Why didn’t I think of that?” My big advantage is that I’m new to your business and an objective outsider so don’t be hard on yourself if we find one or more of these “obvious” ideas. Just be glad we’ve found them.

If I Agree To Work With You On An Assignment, Do You Tell Me What To Do?

I see the relationship as “business best friends”.

You set the objectives of our work together and you retain all decision making. My role is to help you to achieve your objectives and that may involve challenging what you think and do. I have to be able to say it as I see it but you can reject my advice and ideas. If you reject too much, it suggests that we’re not right for each other.

There will be times when I’m teaching you how to do new things but these will be activities that you want to learn. This will involve following my directions but everything is explained and you’ll understand how it helps you to achieve your overall goals.

If you become a client, there will be homework to do between sessions. You will feel pressure to get things done but the vast majority of business owners see this as a positive side effect of working with a business coach and advisor. Too often the day to day hustle and bustle pushes out the important work, to the detriment of the business. Again, if we go week after week when you haven’t done your homework, it’s a sign that, either I’m not right for you or we’re not dealing with the real issues in your business. It shouldn’t be the case that your objectives matter more to me than to you.

While I am interested in turnaround opportunities, I am not a turnaround manager. These are specialists that banks will appoint to replace or oversee the existing senior management as a final effort to save the business before insolvency. Since I work through the existing management team, I need to be involved at an earlier stage of business difficulties.

Do You Guarantee Success?

Unfortunately nobody can guarantee particular results. While we’ll think about the issues together, the responsibility for doing the work rests with you and your staff.

What I can guarantee is that I won’t benefit if you don’t believe you have. In fact, I want you to earn at least a 500% return on investment in my fees and believe that you should get paid first. My approach is unusual and it means that I’m picky about the business owners and opportunities I accept.

How Much Do You Cost And How Much Do I Have To Pay Upfront?

How much I cost depends on how much time we spend together and how much success we achieve together. Since I guarantee a 500% return on your investment, if you don’t benefit, you don’t pay me.

This is one of the reasons why I offer to help find at least £10,000 of extra profit in your business during the Business SOS. If we can’t see realistic opportunities where the profit can come from, neither of us will want to go ahead.

Unlike many business coaches and advisors, I don’t ask you for a large payment up front. I believe you’re committed to improving your business so you don’t have to prove it to me by making your business worse off before we start making is better and stronger.

Sometimes I am wrong. I find I’m more committed than the business owner and that’s a problem for both of us since I don’t get paid unless your business gets better.

I normally ask you to commit to a certain number of sessions for an estimated fee that can go up or down. I look for quick results but it depends on how much preparation work we have to do together.

Because my fees are linked to the extra money you make, they are excellent value and it keeps the emphasis on the right place, the outcome of us working together.

If You’re So Good, Why Don’t You Have Your Own Big Business?

That’s a great question.

You might know the phrase “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

First let’s make it clear that I’m not teaching theory that’s distinct from the real world. There’s been a vast amount of time and effort spent by many people studying what makes some businesses successful whilst others fail. The same applies to each of the different skills within a business like sales, marketing, finance and managing people.

Second, I work with you to apply best practices and to adapt them to your unique situation. This is the big difference between coaching and mentoring which both work with you, and training on the other which gives you the information and then leaves you to struggle to implement. My role is to help you to achieve your objectives..

However, it is a question that I’ve asked myself and for many years while I was self employed, I described myself as a frustrated entrepreneur. I knew I didn’t want to build a coaching or consultancy firm beyond myself and was searching for the right opportunity. I saw customer pain in various markets, I had ideas for solutions but I didn’t feel the desire and commitment to leap into action.

Eventually I did an assessment, called the Kolbe A Index which was illuminating. This looks at the instinctive ways that you work, tackle problems and apply your unique strengths.

My score was 8-4-5-2 when the range is between 0 and 10 on each scale with 5 being average. Both sides of average are strengths in the right situations but weaknesses in the wrong places.

  • The high score related to my need to research, to find the facts and to get more information in unusual situations before I take action.
  • The low score related to my ability to see things conceptually rather than physically. I like ideas rather than getting my hands dirty, like an architect rather than a construction engineer.

Neither of these is the score of an effective entrepreneur but, according to the creator of the index, Kathy Kolbe, is ideal for what I actually do.

You want a business advisor who is hungry for more and more ideas and who doesn’t rest on his laurels of past learning. You also want an advisor who is very comfortable thinking about ideas and concepts and doesn’t need to see them in a tangible, physical form or have any desire to try to take control.

I’m not made to be an entrepreneur but it seems I’ve found the right profession to help entrepreneurs and business owners.

Do You Treat All Your Clients The Same?

No.

What I do is entirely tailored to you, your business, your situation and what you want to achieve. I believe you are unique, even if the conditions you face are relatively common issues.

If it’s clear that the weakness in your business is marketing, then that’s where we will concentrate. If you’re struggling to justify why your business is different from your competitors, we’ll take a more strategic approach. If your big issue is finance, we’ll take through how you can improve the financial control in your business and understand finance better.

I am interested in finding out where you are in terms of the external perception of your business, that is, what customers think about it and your internal reality, how it is really performing. These two aspects need to be aligned which means we’ll need to move to take advantage of a great opportunity, if the external perception is weaker than the internal reality or take actions to reduce the impact of a serious threat if internal issues risk upsetting customers.

I’m surprised how differently I act with different clients which makes me believe that personal chemistry is one of the vital ingredients in what I do. You can’t be “business best friends” if there isn’t openness, honesty and trust. I have to be able to say what I’m thinking and not find myself in a situation where I have to tread on eggshells as I try diplomatically to get you to face up to critical issues.

I adapt the way I work depending on your personality and on your situation. Some clients talk much more than I do whilst others are more like a sponge, soaking up my wisdom but not challenging my ideas much. Some clients have a habit of drifting off the subject or jumping around from one topic to another and then back again. I want you to get as much as possible from the sessions.

Do You Expect A Long Commitment From Your Clients?

Good question. I know some coaches expect clients to sign up for six or twelve month periods.

I take the opposite approach. I only want to work with you for as long as you need me although I do offer longer term, less involved options, where you might want to sign up to a monthly or quarterly business review meeting.

How long we need to work together depends partly on your business, partly on how well our sessions go and partly on how well the ideas are implemented.

I normally start with an offer of ten sessions, preferably one each week on a regular weekday morning. Smaller, tightly defined improvement projects might be suitable for a block of five sessions, and, in theory, I can sell sessions individually although I never have done.  Additional sessions can then be purchased at the same pro-rata fee.

These sessions are notionally for one hour each but I believe there is a big problem with the standard coaching model. These sessions are very interesting and the time flies. I don’t believe in stopping our session while we are in the middle of a good discussion so they can go on for up to two hours. Longer than that and it becomes too tiring for both the normal client and me.

Why Do You Only Provide Advice, Coaching And Mentoring On The Telephone?

I used to believe that advice was best given face to face. Since I don’t have a public office, this involved me travelling to see clients with the inevitable extra time required, which had to be paid for. A bigger problem was clients were late sometimes, often interrupted and things took to long.

I changed my mind after I tried telephone based group coaching for myself. Not only did it cut down on travelling, it made it possible for me to work with people over a much wider distance. A bigger benefit is that the sessions rarely get interrupted.

Everything I do is on Skype or over the telephone and I think you’ll appreciate the increased focus too. I prefer Skype because it allows us to involve more people from your business, if appropriate and we can also use the facility to share screens.

Will Working With You Take Up A Lot Of My Time?

It’s important that our improvement project builds momentum and it is a problem if we don’t talk at least every fortnight and I’d prefer weekly.

The calls themselves take between one and two hours and there will be some homework afterwards that is directly applicable to your business. How much partly depends on how important it is for you to get improvements in your performance quickly.

I would think in terms of finding a morning or afternoon each week to “work on your business” or, if that’s hard, find an hour on each of the other days when you don’t talk to me.

My objective is to look for ideas that are high in value for you and low in terms of cost, both time and money. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic wand or a special pill that instantly makes everything better which is why other coaches look for 6 or 12 month commitments.

I will also encourage you to improve your business skills outside of working hours, normally by reading a few of my 12 favourite business books, unless others are more suitable to your particular situation

I recognise that finding the time is a problem when you’re working 50 or 60 hours a week or even more. I teach you a process that helps you to buy time from yourself, using the Stop Start More Less Process For Time Management.

Is There Anything Else You’d Like To Ask?

Email me at paul@plancs.co.uk and I’ll send you a personally reply and, if I think it’s going to be a common question, I’ll post a generic answer on this page without disclosing any details about you or your business situation.

If This All Makes Sense…

I invite you to take up my offer of having a business SOS.

Email me at paul@plancs.co.uk and explain why you feel stuck. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.