“In our most recent coaching session, Jeanine Hamaker, of JEHcoaching, and I concluded that, for now, we had gone as far as we felt necessary to go in terms of analysing how I manage the business that is The Bristol Nine. Now was the time to focus on actually putting into practice, and bedding in, the new ideas, techniques and thought on how to improve the business that we and discussed and developed during my business coaching. In this first part of a two-part review I look at some overall thoughts and conclusions.
When I had some refresher driving lessons a couple of years ago it made me realize how easy it is to slip into not necessarily bad habits but ones that are not top of the range, and drive in a less than perfect manner as a result – without realizing it. This isn’t necessarily laziness, it’s just that you get used to doing things in a particular ways – ways that develop over time – and that, in the absence of anyone suggesting you do things differently, ways you come to assume, either consciously or subconsciously, work. Life coaching, or business coaching in my example, has done the same for how I view the way I run my business as refresher lessons did for my driving. Sure, when you set up a business there are business models you can follow, advice you can subscribe to, best practice guides you can read. However I’ve found that in day to day terms the business has just evolved, positively by and large, but without much thought from me as to whether it has evolved, and is continuing to evolve, in the best way. And why the lack of input from me? In part due to my character and in no small way due to that bane of most self-employed people’s working lives – being too busy.
Now coaching might not be to everyone’s liking – I’ve been asked why I would pay good money to get a total stranger, with no experience of you or your business, to tell you how to improve that business. And if you have that attitude then would expect coaching to be a fairly pointless exercise. However if you are happy to approach it with an openness, a positive manner, a desire to change things for the better and a willingness to be honest about yourself then I believe that it can bring about very real, tangible rewards.
In my view there are two key features to the coaching that I have received, relating to time and perceptiveness. In terms of time, coaching with Jeanine has forced me, thankfully, to free up time – from the busy day-to-day, week-to-week, month to month schedule – to escape if you like, and to create the opportunities to step back and look at the various ways I work in a dispassionate and honest manner.
And from a perceptiveness point of view, Jeanine is just that – she has an ability to see above the detail, that I get swamped in sometimes, and view a bigger picture with more general themes. In this sense it matters not one jot that her background isn’t in publishing or advertising – it has been her ability to take a non-judgmental and detached view, and allow me to set the agenda and determine what aspects of the business we discussed, that has been key to me deriving the benefits from her coaching that I have gained.
Several people have, quite legitimately, asked me “Isn’t it just all about common sense?” and my answer has been that in many respects it is. However teaching of common sense sadly isn’t on the national curriculum, and many of us are either too busy, too clouded in our thinking or too unwilling to see and adopt common sense, especially if by doing so we are accepting that, in some respects, our behaviour or ways of doing things are, or have become, less than entirely sensible. Working with a coach gives you that opportunity to refocus on your business, examine what you do and why, and leads to suggestions and ideas of ways to do things in a more constructive and productive manner.
Eagle eyed readers will have noticed that The Bristol Nine has been getting a bit chubby of late, which is great for me and I hope good for you. An influx of new advertisers, and a desire to increase correspondingly the amount of written content has increased the workload of yours truly quite a lot – and I was busy before! Which brings me back to coaching. The review Jeanine and I have into how I view and produce The Bristol Nine may have ended for now, but as the magazine continues to evolve and grow I fully intend to look again at the business and develop ways of improving it further – ways that evolve with the help of an independent minded coach helping me look at my business in a reflective and questioning manner.
Next month I will conclude by review of the coaching Jeanine has provided me with by looking in detail at the changes I have made to the way I run the magazine – which I hope will give some ideas to other small businesses.”