The best business advisors and coaches will tailor the advice given to business owners depending on the particular situation and the needs of the business owner.
Basically there are two options:
- The advisor or coach has a well defined process and the client is expected to bend to fit in with the process. As far as the coach is concerned “it’s my way or the highway”. This is perhaps best typified by the traditional approach taken by E-Myth coaches where the entire process is so systematised that it can be delivered by inexperienced people with few qualifications. The system is everything and, therefore, deviating from the system isn’t allowed although there are some choices allowed within it. Michael Gerber has made a great virtue of this turnkey system in the past as he created the McDonald’s of small business consulting and put his ideas into practice. Please note, I don’t know if the E-Myth coaches still work in such a regimented style. I feel it’s also an approach that you can expect from many of the advice based franchises since their strength is in the franchise system and the way to protect their reputation is by making sure that the system is followed closely.
- The advisor or coach is well qualified and has plenty of experience and is ability to adapt to the individual needs of the business owner. It would be wrong to say that there isn’t an underlying process, approach or body of knowledge but the focus is on the client. Here the emphasis is on the skills of the advisor and not the system.
I don’t think you’ll find it hard to work out which camp I fit into.
I very much believe that advice should be tailored to the business and the business owner. Change is hard and, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t make sense to put unnecessary obstacles in the way.
I have a natural affinity to Theory Of Constraints (TOC) style thinking. What is the biggest thing holding back the business? How can we fix it or at least maximise the current potential? When that’s done, what’s the next biggest constraint?
It’s about aiming to deliver change and improved results quickly. To identify where the low hanging fruit are and then to pick them.
That’s not to say that I don’t think there aren’t advantages in starting at A and gradually moving through in sequence to Z. If a business owner wants to make a radical overhaul of the business and there is no urgent need to get something fixed, starting at the beginning is usually the most efficient way.
Years ago, I developed a coaching approach I called the Eight Pillars Of Business Prosperity which looked at every aspect of your business.
In the ideal world, I liked to start with Pillar 1 which was about establishing your critical numbers or key performance indicators (KPI). As far as I was concerned, this area is under-developed in many small businesses and it helped us to find out where a business was and we could identify an initial set of benchmarks that allowed us to monitor progress.
However if a client had a major customer service problem, it made sense to jump straight into Pillar 7 (about your team of employees and suppliers) and Pillar 8 (the systems and processes in the business). I’d still want to set and monitor some KPI for customer service at the beginning but we wouldn’t worry about all the other aspects of the business until we could see real progress on the customer service issues.
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