5 star service

My TrueNORTH, 5 star customer experienceDo you offer 5-star service?

We’ve all heard the expression “Cash is king” But you’ll find, that ‘cash’ in the hands of a customer, and so surely the real expression is (or at least should be) The Customer is King (or Queen).

With that in mind, I wonder:

Do you provide 5-Star Service?

Does your team?

To every Customer / Client / Enquiry, everytime?

I know we don’t go out there with the intention of offering a poor service, but for a multiple of reasons, we do.

  • It might be, you had a bad nights sleep, and woke tired, frustrated, late?
  • It could be, you got cut up on the way to work, and the red-mist hasn’t yet fully settled?
  • It could be, you ate something that didn’t agree with you, and feeling rather ‘icky’?

And, through no fault of your own, the experience the end user receives is less than they expected!

What is poor customer service?

Poor customer service happens anytime your business fails to meet a customer’s expectations. It could be the quality of service your customer received, how long it takes for you to answer their phone call or just their overall experience with your brand.

It doesn’t have to be huge, (in fact it rarely is), but it’s just enough for the customer to feel less about you and the brand than they did before their latest experience.

What is the cost of poor customer service?

  1. Poor customer service will reduce the number of customers interacting with a business.
  2. Fewer customers will cause a loss in profit for any business.
  3. Loss of business may also force a company to attempt to save money (often through reduced staff training, lower salaries, and fewer incentives) Creating an ever-decreasing spiral which eventually leads to closure!

Consumer surveys consistently show that complaints are on the rise with customers becoming increasingly fickle in the face of a bad experience.

The Ombudsman Services report last year estimated that UK businesses lose about £37 billion every year due to bad customer service. When customers have a bad experience, around a third will respond by spending less on that brand and are more likely to switch to a rival. They are also more likely to complain to their friends, tweet, or leave bad online reviews. The report revealed that the most complained about the industry are retail, followed by telecommunications, with energy, transport, and banking coming in equal third.

Poor customer service not only affects the consumer but is also demoralising for the staff on the other end. Systems that leave the customer on hold or require them to repeat information many times over mean that instead of helping serve customers, call centre staff spend most of their time apologising to irate callers and directing complaints. This isn’t helpful and is extremely costly, especially taking into account that many of these customers will not be coming back.

There is plenty of evidence to show that customers value a product more if it’s accompanied by a positive customer experience. This is a trend that will continue and industry analysts say that spending on customer engagement projects is forecast to increase significantly as its influence and value become increasingly obvious.

Is poor customer service common?

It’s a lot more common than you might think! And, with competition being so fierce it has never been more important to recognise it, challenge it, and resolve it.

A customer is often far more educated, well informed, and knowledgeable about what they want, than the person selling it to them! Gone are the days when a salesperson is required to share all the features and benefits of the product/service. The customer has often done all the research online before even making the enquiry.  Therefore the role of sales is no longer to sell! But data collection.  In order to understand context, intention, and purpose, in order to offer the right solution, in the right timeframe, for the right quality and investment!

How do you stack up?

Do you survey your customers? Do you invite them to offer feedback on their experience with you and the company? Do you actively pursue comments/suggestions, and actively show that you are responding to the ongoing and changing needs of the consumer?

A recent study (2018) of more than 27,000 consumers, found that 72% voted their most recent experience with the brand 7/10.

7 isn’t so bad is it?

7 is terrible!

1-4 you’ve blown it, they are never likely to return. (Evidence shows, that if a customer has a bad experience with a brand, it can take up to 11 years before they are willing to return and ‘try again)

5-6 it’s not good, but it’s something you can work with. Taking fast remedial action, could well win customers over and give you a ‘2nd chance’ because you have demonstrated you are listening to the needs of the consumer.

9-10 GREAT.  You’ve got some advocates, some loyal fans. These are the few, that will not only walk past the compeititon to return to you, but gladly tell their friends, family and connections why they do so.

8 You are on the edge! – Yes 8 and you are already not safe.  This customer is happy (for now) but not happy enough to be loyal!

7 DANGER. This is the most dangerous number you could be awarded! Better than a 6 and so you think you’re doing a good job! Not quite an 8, 9, 10 room for improvement, but nothing to worry about!

The complacentcy created when you receive a 7 is enormous, and it’s slowly killing your business! (See Sabotage is rife in UK Business)

What is good customer service?

You may have a fantastic product, but if your customer service is unhelpful, unreliable, or just plain hard to get in touch with, folks will hear about it, and you’ll lose customers over it.

That’s one big reason why investing in customer service is key to long-term business success.

But what does it mean to provide great customer service, and how can you ensure that every customer has a great experience with your company when they reach out for help?

Good customer service means consistently not just meeting but exceeding customers’ expectations.

Great customer service is quick, easy, personalized, and empathetic. Companies that deliver excellent customer service take the time needed to understand the needs of their unique customer base, and provide the help, support, products/services their customers/consumers need/want.

Here are 10 ways to deliver excellent customer service

Know your product/service

Expansive knowledge of your product(s)/Service(s) is an essential customer service skill. Ideally, you should believe in your product(s)/Service(s), be able to discuss features and use cases in an insightful way, and show your customers how the product/service can benefit them — not to mention troubleshoot anything that’s not working right!

Your job is to help your customers get the most out of their investment and feel like they have true value for their money. Make it your goal to learn everything there is to know about your product(s)/Service(s) so you can amaze your customers with timely recommendations for using new features and services.

2. Maintain a positive attitude

Attitude is everything, and a positive attitude goes a long way in providing excellent customer service.

“The right attitude changes negative customer experiences into positive customer experiences”.

Since many customer interactions are no longer face-to-face, your attitude should be reflected in your language and tone of voice as much as (if not more than) the words you use.

It’s easy to misinterpret the tone of written communication, and email or live chat can come across as cold. The brain uses multiple signals to interpret someone else’s emotional tone, including body language and facial expression, many of which are absent online.

If I can’t be face to face, I still find LIVE video THE best method of communication. Followed by the telephone, and the use of voice notes. Don’t be afraid to use emojis to convey warmth and good humour, and personalisation.

3. Creatively problem-solve

Over 80% of customers have churned because they experienced bad customer service. That’s why you must thrive on solving problems for your customers and make it a central part of your support role — and there will always be problems to solve.

Have you heard of the legendary customer service at Zappos?

For example, they once sent a best man free shoes the night before the wedding after his order was sent to the wrong location due to a mistake by the delivery company. Zappos solved a problem and exemplified excellent customer service — they won a customer for life and gave the man a story that he couldn’t wait to share.

Don’t be afraid to wow your customers as you seek to problem-solve for them. You could just fix the issue and be on your way, but by creatively meeting their needs in ways that go above and beyond, you’ll create customers that are committed to you and your product.

4. Respond quickly

66% of people believe that valuing their time is the most important thing in any online customer experience. Resolving customer queries as quickly as possible is a cornerstone of good customer service. Speed should be of the essence — especially for smaller issues that don’t take much time to solve.

That being said — great customer service beats speed every time.

Customers understand that more complex queries take time to resolve. There’s a difference between the time it takes you to respond and the speed at which you resolve their problems. Customers don’t want to languish in a ticket queue, but they’ll spend as much time as it takes to resolve their issue. You should, too.
Get back to your customers as quickly as possible, but don’t be in a rush to get them off the phone or close the ticket without resolving the issue completely.

5. Personalize your service

40% of customers say they want better human service. That means they want to feel like more than just a ticket number. They get angry when they’re not being treated like an individual person, receiving boilerplate responses, or being batted like a tennis ball to different people.

Customers want to interact with a person — not a company. It’s part of the reason why many businesses send gifts to their customers on their birthdays.

  • Do you know not only your customers’ names, but also their birthdays?
  • How about their interests or hobbies?
  • Can you make them laugh?

It’s obviously not possible to do this for everyone, but going off script and giving the personal touch when you can is an important way to show your customers you know them and you care.

6. Help customers help themselves

That said, customers don’t always want to talk to someone to get their problem solved — often, they want to quickly resolve their issues themselves. Among consumers, 81% attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out for help from another. Further research shows that 71% want the ability to solve most customer service issues on their own.

Self-service is a scalable, cost-effective way to make customers happy — that’s the thinking that led us to invest more and more time and energy into our FAQs, which puts help content front and centre so consumers can find answers right where they are without having to either email, or book a call. Then if they’re unable to answer their own question, help from a real person is just a couple of clicks away.

7. Focus support on the customer

Your customers are the most integral part of your business, and they come before products or profit. Treat them like they are the centre of your world — because they are.

According to Kristin Smaby in “Being Human is Good Business,” It’s time to consider an entirely different approach: Building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.

8. Actively listen

Paying attention to customer feedback includes looking back over the data, as well as listening in real-time. Show your customers you hear them when they take the time to speak to you. Listening increases the chances that you’ll hear your customers’ real problems and can effectively solve them, resulting in happier customers.

  • Listen to what they have to say without pushing your own agenda.
  • Don’t assume that you know what your customer is going to say.

Demonstrate active listening skills; when you’re on the phone or live chat, use phrases like:

“It sounds like … ”

and

“Do you mean … ?”

or

“Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”

Make sure you repeat the problem back to them in your own words to show you’ve heard them.

Active listening also means you are mindful of your customer’s unique personality and current emotional state so you can tailor your response to fit the situation. Customer service is not one-size-fits-all.

9. Keep your word

If you promise something, making sure you deliver on it is common-sense customer service. Don’t let your customers down. Keeping your word is about respect and trust.

For example, if you promise an SLA uptime of 99%, make sure you keep to that standard. If you promise to develop a certain feature in your software in a particular time frame, make sure you deliver on that. If you offer a loyalty bonus stick to it

If you ever break your word, like saying you’ll get back to a customer within 24 hours and you don’t, offer something to make up for it. If your customer’s delivery goes awry, offer to replace it and refund their money for their trouble. You might lose some money in the short term, but you’ll gain a loyal customer.

Interestingly, customers do not feel extra grateful when you deliver more than you promised. They do, however, feel angry if you break a promise. It’s still better to under-promise and over-deliver so you can make sure you never break this important social contract.

10. Be proactively helpful

Going the extra mile is one of the most important things you can do to deliver great customer service. This is when you have ticked all the boxes, yet you still want to do more.

Sometimes being helpful means anticipating your customers’ needs before they even have to articulate them. In fact, sometimes customers may ask for one thing without realizing that they really need another. It’s your job to anticipate their needs and provide for them.

When customers feel like you value them — like they’re truly special to you — they’ll keep coming back. This may be linked with the phenomenon of reciprocity in social psychology:

If you do something nice for your customers, they will want to do something in return

like, buy your products!

Sending them a small gift “just because,” or giving them a rare promotional code, will speak to your customers’ egos and demonstrate your genuine appreciation of their business.

What are the differences between customer service and customer experience?

Customer service is just one part of the entire customer journey, while customer experience encompasses all the interactions between your brand and a customer.

Is customer service part of the customer experience? Or is customer experience what happens when someone receives customer service? Are they the same thing?

The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often confused or used interchangeably. They’re not the same thing, but they are related.

The difference between customer service and customer experience is that while customer service is one piece of the puzzle — focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers — customer experience is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business.

Let’s take a look at customer service vs. customer experience in more detail.

Customer service is probably a more familiar term — it’s also the more narrowly scoped of the two.
Customer service is the assistance and advice provided to a customer for your product or service as needed.

Customer service requires your customer-facing team to possess a particular set of skills, including patience, product knowledge, and tenacity, so they can provide the answers and assistance a customer needs. It’s the human element in the customer journey and the voice your customer will recognize as representative of your organization.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience, or CX, refers to the broader customer journey across the organization and includes every interaction between the customer and the business.

CX involves all the ways your business interacts with a customer, including and outside of traditional direct, customer-facing service. CX captures how the customer uses your product or service, their interactions with self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your retail store, customer service interactions with the team, and more.

Customer experience includes three main components:

  1. Customer Service: This includes Customer Support, Customer Success, and self-service support — the points at which your customer interacts with your team.
  2. Technology: This is the product itself — how it works and the interactivity points.
  3. Design: This is the brand touchpoint — the marketing, the design, and the feelings your brand creates for your customer.

While those three areas are quite distinct, there are no hard lines between them. All of the pieces combine and work together to make up the customer experience.

Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience

The key difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer experience involves the whole customer journey, including customer service.

Customer service is limited to the interactions a customer has when seeking advice or assistance on a product or service. Understanding the customer experience, on the other hand, can involve analyzing data from non-customer-facing teams who contribute to a customer’s overall experience with a product or service.

Customer service and customer experience are both important pieces to an organization’s success, yet it’s not possible (or necessary) to draw hard lines between them. The line between how customers use a product and how they interact with the people supporting it are more blurred than ever. Customers consider the whole picture when thinking about your offerings, and you should, too.

A great example

In May 2021, I made the decision we needed a new printer. Our previous printer was several years old, and whilst it worked, it was ‘tired’ and not always offering the best print quality.  Beyond this, printers have moved on significantly in what they can do, and our print requirements determined it would be more cost-effective to upgrade and continue ‘in-house’ than ‘out-source’ various print requirements outside the scope of our current machine.

I had planned to scour the internet, for all the latest models/reviews recommendations etc.  But found Printerland had already done all that for me. Completely independent from any particular brand, they have both an impressive selection and offer a comparison service.

Using this, I was able to determine my requirements, and make recommendations as to which printers met/superseded those requirements, and for what level of investment. By using this free-to-use tool, I was able to make my selection, make payment, and receive the new printer the very next day.

Within the packaging were instructions for use, and the all-important warranty instruction.

Following the warranty guidelines, I visited Xerox website, to input the required data to register the product, only to find the purchase date was already entered, was grossly incorrect (01/01/1901) and unable to be changed! Uncertain how to overcome this, I dialled the number on the screen for their “Helpful customer service department” only to find the number had been discontinued!

Uncertain how to proceed, I called Printerland customer service to enquire how best to proceed.  And was immediately offered an alternative number to speak with Xerox.  Finally able to speak to the manufacturer, and they advised if there was a ‘glitch’ with the website, I should continue to complete the form, but also email in proof of purchase, that they would then amend the purchase date.

Some months passed, before the printer offered an ink low warning, and time to purchase new toners. – Naturally, I returned to Printerland, as not only had their service been exceptional, but were most cost effective also.

On receiving the toners, across the receipt, was a promotional offer:

“By purchasing original toners within this qualifying period, you are able to extend the products warranty. Click here to extend your warranty”

Fabulous. Not only did I have new toners, but also able to double the length of the manufacturers warranty – Or so I thought!

Visiting the website to enter the details, the website declared “Unable to extend the warranty, as original warranty already expired – (01/01/1902)” 

Oh no. Despite having spoken to Xerox at the time of purchase, and being assured they would update the system, this had not been done, and showing my warranty expired 5 years before the company was even formed! Thankfully, the advice given by Printerland was to take screenshots of the website with the ‘glitch’ and I was able to share this with them, for them to acknowledge the problem and agree to extend the warranty.

3 months later, and the printer develops a power failure fault! (These things can happen, I get that)

But thankfully, we have that extended warranty, right?

Mmmmm, on contacting Xerox (using the phone number given to me by Printerland, as the one on their own website is still wrong) I’m greeted with: Your warranty has expired, there is nothing more we can do!

Despite sending emails, screenshots, and recorded conversations to the contrary, the ‘customer services representative‘ has a script. And my problem falls outside of the remit of their script. So round and round we go, not making any progress!

Until…

An email from Matthew at Printerland…

We notice you currently own a Xerox ***** and haven’t purchased toners recently.  We currently have a *% discount on toners, and wondered if your ready for a top up?”

What a great email. Not too pushy or salesy. But saying we know you own the machine, and that it has consumables.  We’ve got an offer on those right now, is this something you may wish to benefit from?

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at life) this email landed as I was still on the phone playing merry-go-round with the Xerox ‘Custoemr Services Rep’ and getting nowhere fast. And so, my reply to ‘Matthew’ wasn’t as professional or polite as it perhaps should have been:

Thanks, Matthew.  However, as the printer has been inoperative for the last 3 weeks, and I’m struggling to get Xerox to honour the warranty they offered. I’m not ready to spend any more money on toner I can’t use”

What happened next was a miracle

Moments later, my office phone rang:

Mr Allen, it’s Matthew from Printerland. I understand your having a problem with your printer?

OMG – My email hadn’t just landed, but Matthew (busy trying to sell me some ink) was now on the phone enquiring what the problem was and as to how he could help.

I quickly recited the above, and he advised he would contact Xerox on my behalf and see how best to resolve this.

Within the hour, he called back, advising a Xerox engineer would attend to assess the machine the next working day. And that if there were any further hold ups, to call him back.

Said engineer arrived, and spent over 2 hours uploading software updates, and testing parts, before determining it requires both a new power unit and motherboard. However, “As this is a courtesy visit, outside of warranty, these parts are billable, and not that cheap!” He shared that to purchase the parts, have a xerox engineer come back, strip the machine down to fit them, then rebuild and test is likely to cost several hundred pounds, and therefore ‘might be the more cost-effective to buy a new machine‘. Shocked 😮, as the printer is only 15 months old, and hasn’t yet finished its 1 set of toners.

However, Matthew called back to see if the engineer had been.

Yes, but it’s going to be more expensive to repair than replace. I replied.

Leave it with me“. And off he went again.

An hour later, having escalated this to the highest levels within both Printerland and Xerox he assures me the problem will be resolved without charge within the next 24 hours!

My point for sharing this in quite so much detail is:

It wasn’t a Printerland problem! I may have bought the unit from them (15 months ago) but the warranty is issued (and should be serviced) by the manufacturer. And yet the moment, Matthew heard I was having a problem, he has gone above and beyond in order to assist me in resolving this.

He’s lived up to the Printerland promise of Exceptional Customer Service

Now that is an exceptional customer experience. 

You can find a wide range of printers and consumables on the Printerland website: www.printerland.co.uk where I can guarantee you’ll get some exceptional customer service.

Isn’t it time to start telling the truth?

One of the things I’ve observed in the last 18 months or so, is how more and more people are telling white lies!

I’m not calling people liars – we’ve all been guilty of not wanting to admit the real reason we are late to attend the endless zoom meetings was “I needed the loo”. But there appears to be a growing urge to tell everyone “everything’s fine” when clearly it’s not!

Social media (and people’s addiction to it) has seen endless scrolling of “Success stories” with people draped over expensive cars, scantily clad exotic holiday pics, and sumptuous surroundings whilst out for dinner. Viewers see this as a personal challenge against their own microwave tea, and a race to do better!

And so, the lies begin. It’s not intentional, but a ‘social necessity‘ to fit in, to be someone to be accepted!

However, what is even worse than this, is the lies we are told and those we tell ourselves!

Meaning, mastery and money are all essential in today’s business environment. Meaning and mastery will lead to more money. Many small business owners instinctively do these things, but most business advisers only focus on the money. They tell their clients to make the money first, then they can invest in mastering their business and making meaning in their community and life. Unfortunately, that sets up a cycle that never gets them there. Instead, business owners need to be encouraged to invest in meaning and mastery from the beginning.

 Most small business owners are very good at the work of their business. As Michael Gerber says, “they are technicians who get an entrepreneurial twitch”. Usually in response to working for another technician who had an entrepreneurial twitch. This means they are not clear on what it means to run a business.

 In reality, most small business owners are freelancers, (or as Gerber refers) Business Operators not owners of businesses. And yet so many Business Advisors are pushing them to act like a business?

 Let’s have a look at these pervasive lies

 You have to wear many hats

This perpetuates the myth that business owners have to do it all. Even worse is the myth that they have to know and understand it all. Who can possibly know all that? This is the single worst bit of advice ever given and it is what makes small business owners feel inadequate.

 The most important hat a small business owner needs to wear is the sales hat. Making sales is what defines a business. Making sales will pull a struggling business into the black. Making sales is the crucial first step to everything else that follows. The best advice to give small business owners is to go make sales.

 After they are making sales, teach them the strategy of the business and how to lead a team, not how to do everything in business. Offering ‘all you need to know workshops’ on how to do bookkeeping, marketing, project planning, hiring/firing etc, lull our business owners into thinking that all they have to do is execute on the tactics properly in order to succeed. We should be telling our business owners to get help as often and as early as possible.

Yes, it’s good to know what needs to be done, but not to know every last detail of how to do it. To move from Business Operator to Business Owner we must know enough to find the right person to do it!

 The worst ways a beginning business owner can be spending their days is in designing their business cards or a poster or trying to set up their bookkeeping.

Only once the owner has made the physical, mental and emotional switch from operator to the owner can the business thrive

Starting business owners don’t have enough money to invest in themselves or their business

So advisors touting for clients, give them yet another free 101 workshop. Telling them a million and one things that they must do in order to grow their business. Whereas the reality is it is keeping them central to the business and forcing them back into a JOB.

The most successful small business owners I meet are the ones who invest in themselves early and often. They understand their strengths and they outsource the rest. They know the highest and best use of their time is in talking to and serving customers.

 And advisors often tell them, “by the way your time isn’t worth very much”. A good friend who runs a bookkeeping business, tells people directly: They can do your bookkeeping faster than you can worry about it. And It is true. Yet Eventbrite is full of Advisors and Accountants giving Business Owners 3-hour workshops on how to do their bookkeeping, then expect them to take a couple of Sunday afternoons a month to do it.

Or they could outsource it to a bookkeeper for around £100pm And it would be right. Plus they got advice from a professional who does bookkeeping for a living.

Instead, so many still do an inferior job, that takes them three times longer and often leads to either the wrong or poor results WHILST keeping them away from customers/prospects and earning more money! Because they went on a course!

Finally, that’s assuming they need bookkeeping done on a regular basis, which most didn’t.

Most Advisors don’t teach them how to engage professionals early. Instead, they suggest that when they get big enough, they can hire a marketing expert to take care of their marketing. What they really need, is to hire a professional to help them refine their message. A professional has the experience to tease out the words and message that matters. Never mind about flyers, radio or podcasts. Get the message right first.

Marketing, finance, operations, and HR are the fundamentals of business

Maybe. If you have a big business with a division of people with expertise to take on each functional area. Again, no one person can master all of these. These are functional areas of business, the understanding and management of which makes the running of the company work better. but they come after, much after the customer is clearly defined, the problem your offer is solving is nailed and you are ready to scale up in a big way. Having all of these perfectly in place will give you a well-run company, not necessarily a successful one.

Business development takes several years of talking to customers, testing offers and making sales. Until then, the focus is on doing the work of the business, not managing a company.

During the first couple of years, bookkeeping and financial information are only needed to file taxes. It’s more important for our business owners to be agile, to experiment and always be testing. Financial Statements are backwards looking documents and they only track money. For instance, it’s not enough to know the impact on revenue of changing prices. It’s more important to know who the new pricing attracts and repels, the cost of delivering on the new pricing and the change in expectations.

The message, loud and clear is, that you must learn this stuff and do it yourself FIRST. It’s good for you because then you get to understand your business from the ground up. The truth is that struggling to do a bad job at a task you are not suited to is not good for you. Doing a bad job at copywriting doesn’t help you understand your marketing message. We should encourage our business owners to hire professional help, so they get a professional result.

Profit is the most important number

Big business uses many metrics, not just profit, to run their business and yet we tell small businesspeople that if they do their bookkeeping, they have their numbers covered. The most important metrics to track may not be on the financial statements.

For the first couple of years, spending is going to be distorted towards start-up costs. Every available penny is put back into the business to help it grow. A true picture of the financial health of the company won’t emerge for a few years, yet. As a Coach, my job is to help the business owner manage their money and their cash flow and in giving them tools to evaluate the opportunities that will help them grow their business.

The business won’t settle enough to show trends emerging out of the noise until several years in. Focus on what’s really important like landing another £5000 a year customer, not saving £20 a month on the phone.

A business plan is crucial before you start a business

We’ve all said it “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” What about “No plan survives first contact with customers”?

Creating a business plan is premature before a single sale is made. It can’t be done until customers are identified, what they want and how they want it. These questions can’t be answered at a desk. They can only be answered by talking to customers. When that step is done properly, the business is up and running and the business owner’s time is best spent on making sales, delivering, and testing.

For instance, Ben comes to you wanting to open a pet store. The first task you set him should be to send him out to find his first 5 customers to find out what they really need and want. If Ben can’t do that or isn’t willing to do that, then all the ‘entrepreneurial traits’ tests won’t help, and the best-laid business plans won’t make the business a success.

That goes double for marketing plans. The first year should be devoted to sales and not marketing. We all know 100 people, who know 100 people, etc. Fifty pet owners spending £50/ month will give Ben a base upon which to build. That takes sales, not marketing. Those sales should be well underway before signing a lease and paying for inventory.

The business plan focuses on financial projections, market analysis and demographic customer analysis. That’s great if you know who your customers are, which you can’t know if you don’t have any. The best way to do a market analysis is to spend a week selling into that marketplace, not a week spent searching statistics and playing with spreadsheets.

We should encourage a focus on business models, feedback loops and pivots. Then on customer engagement, automation rollouts or scaling. When our business owner is ready for scaling up, hiring and financing, then that’s when an executable business plan should be written.

Work hard

They attend workshops on how to be more productive and on time management, but not on courage. Any person having procrastination issues is dealing with fear, not the wrong method for managing to do’s. The greatest service we can give our business owners is to name it and help them deal with fear and courage.

Most teach business owners how to do all the work of running a business instead:

We should be helping them focus on what not to do as much as what to do. On causing things to get done rather than doing them. The “Really busy” answer to the question, “How are you doing?” has become a badge of honour. We let them get away with that. We tell them we appreciate them taking time away from their busy day to meet with us.

We should demand, not just encourage our business owners to take time away, time to think every day. We should make it clear that they are the most important piece of their starting business and therefore looking after themselves is vital to business success. We should encourage them to meet for coffee and masterminding regularly.

Working harder on the wrong things won’t get better results, it will only get our business owners to burn out!

Truth and Lies, blog post by My TrueNORTH about business owners telling white lies

But even worse, here are the top 6 lies Business Owners tell themselves

  1. I can’t afford it….”

As in, “I can’t afford to pay someone £20-30 per hour on this task.” While on the surface this lie sounds like you are concerned about your budget and their bottom line.  What it really means is that they aren’t confident enough in your ability to create higher-value items/services. This could be because they feel that you lack the skills to do anything of higher value or it could be a cry for help time management-wise, as they don’t then know what they would do with the time they have gained back!

  1. I don’t have the time…”

They spend their day putting out fires and handling other people’s tasks. Is it any wonder that they don’t have time to grow your business? Business owners have to Stop telling themselves that they don’t have time and start looking at exactly what they are spending their time on. Are they high-value tasks or are you putting out fires? 

  1. No one can do it as well as I can…”

This lie is code for:  “I can’t delegate that kind of authority, what if they make a bad decision? What if they mess up a client relationship?” Of course, there are different levels of delegation based on the experience set and abilities of a team member, but business owners who instinctively hold tight to the reins of all decisions and authority in their business end up being owned by their businesses.

  1. Let me check my diary and get back to you…”.

This is the lie we tell ourselves instead of facing the harsh reality of our dependent relationship with our business. Whereas what they are actually saying is: “I want to sound busy, but the reality is I’m not confident to move forward yet!”

  1. I’ll just wait and see what happens…”

As in, “I know I have a real staff issue, but I’ll just wait and see if things straighten out on their own first because I don’t have the competence or confidence to address it.” When you have a real issue, deal with it. Immediately. Don’t let it linger or fester while you “hope” it will resolve itself. Why do so many entrepreneurs do this? Because they are not willing to face the temporary discomfort, usually emotional discomfort, of meeting the moment directly.

  1. I am not making any progress….”

If the first five lies weren’t bad enough, perhaps the worst lie of all is when you tell yourself that you aren’t making any progress in your business. You find yourself saying “Argh well.  Next time….” Stop and celebrate your victories. Don’t deny the results or downplay your successes. Savour the moment and take in your progress.

What’s The Answer

The sooner business owners get out of the building’, talk to customers and make sales, the sooner they will get over the fear. The sooner they understand their role is not to know everything, but to find and partner/recruit/JV with those who do. The sooner they begin sharing not only the successes but the problems they face and ASK FOR HELP. The sooner they will make REAL and LASTING progress.

Yes, it’s hard and yes, there will be resistance, for which every coach must be ready and prepared. However, by working with a coach to overcome these, you will be stronger, more capable, and more resilient it.

One of the very best ways of achieving this is through Mastermind.

At the time of recording this, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in Mastermind for 17 years and now host mastermind groups both on and offline.  They truly are a most remarkable and unique place, where magic happens.

When ego is left at the door, and innocents enters.  When bravado and BS are left at home, and vulnerability takes a seat. When every individual present recognises that Together Everyone Achieve More. It enables owners to ask, share, learn together and benefit from each other’s knowledge, experience, qualification, and strengths.  In every mastermind, business owners encourage, support, and hold to account for each other for the progress and direction each is taking.

We all know business is changing – the way customers engage, the way it’s delivered, and even the way people pay. Shouldn’t the support you access change too?

Here at My TrueNORTH, The Ethical Coaching Company, we support Business Owners to Significantly and Sustainable grow both themselves and their businesses, by hosting a series of Mastermind Groups.

Hosted both online and in person, these groups are the catalyst for more and more business owners to #addazero. Whether it is the mindset/motivation or vision of the business owner, through to the systems, processes and people required to run the business. From marketing management to sales certainty, our proven 8 elements are fundamental to the ongoing growth and success of all those who attend.

ADDAZERO Methodology - The 8 Elements of every Scaleup business

You can learn more by visiting: My TrueNORTH Business Mastermind

Do you have an exit plan?

What is it you desire most?

Money?

Time?

The most popular answer I hear when I ask this question is FREEDOM!

Freedom to do what they want, when they want. And not to have to worry about work, or money in order to be able to do whatever it is they want to do.

So why is it, so few have ever really planned for what that might look like!

Sure, we all have a vague notion of “life after work” or “retirement” but how much time, effort, and consideration have you put into determining exactly what that will look like, and when you wish to achieve that?

One of the ‘4 Killer Questions’ I ask every client is:

“One what date are you going to successfully sell your current business? and be able to retire?”

Now, to be clear; I’ve not SAID retire, I’ve simply asked BE ABLE TO retire?

In response, I often hear people frantically working out in which year they are going to turn 65. And then shaving a few years off, to ‘reward’ themselves for having owned their own business! So they are somewhat taken aback when I ask “And what would you do in the interim if you were able to achieve that in the next 5 years?”

You see, once you have achieved your ENOUGH? number, and have the ABILITY to retire – Everything changes.

Working because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to
Doing WHAT you want, not what OTHERS want of you
Being, doing, having, all becomes possible

And all of that is possible in a far shorter timeframe than you may first think possible – Through the application of a different mindset and beliefs!

I’m a firm subscriber to the concept:

Your future shall ultimately be determined, by the quality of questions, you learn to ask, of yourself.

Therefore, if you want a better future, it starts by learning to ask better questions.

Our ethical business mastermind groups, are specifically designed and managed to ensure bigger, bolder, brighter, more challenging questions are asked AND ANSWERED, not only to change but transform you and your business, the perception of what is possible and the means to achieve it.

In today’s video, I’ll pose the 4 most DIFFICULT questions you are ever likely to have to answer! But in doing so, will fundamentally change the way you think about, work and operate within your business!

I’d love to hear your thoughts CLICK TO REPLY

What I learnt from watching 14 Peaks

Project possible

Recently I scrolled through Netflix, and stumbled across this exceptional documentary directed by Torquil Jones. Produced by Noah Media Group, Little Monster Films and Torquil Jones with Nirmal Purja, Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Vasarhelyi as executive producers. The film follows Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja, and his team as they attempt to climb all 14 eight-thousander peaks within a world record time of under 7 months.

The documentary follows a plan by Nepali high-altitude climber Nirmal Purja, (a former member of the Gurkhas and the Special Boat Squadron (SBS)) to climb all of the world’s 14 highest peaks with an altitude greater than 8,000 metres (26,247 ft) (called eight-thousanders) in less than 7 months. The actual climbing took 6 months and 6 days between April 2019 to October 2019. The first person to climb all 14 eight-thousanders was Italian climber Reinhold Messner who took 16 years between 1970 and 1986 and completed the feat without the use of supplementary oxygen.

By 2013, the feat had been achieved in 7 years and 310 days by South Korean climber Kim Chang, who also did not use supplementary oxygen. Purja decided to use oxygen above 7,500 metres (24,600 ft) for Project Possible based on prior experiences when not using oxygen on past eight-thousander climbs would have stopped him from saving the lives of stricken climbers (something he ended up doing several times during the project).

The documentary begins in April 2019, with Purja attempting Annapurna, statistically, the most dangerous eight-thousander. Purja joins with Canadian climber Don Bowie who has failed several times on the Annapurna. However, Purja encourages Bowie to come with his team and they are successful summiting on 23 April, with Bowie saying “This guy believed they were gonna do it, and they pushed through and achieved what before now, I have only ever attempted and failed“.

However, success was very short-lived, as the following day, Purja returns up the mountain to rescue a stricken climber (later identified as Malaysian climber Wui Kin Chin). The rescue meant Purja lost his “weather window” for Dhaulagiri, which his team summits in extremely bad weather on 12 May. Purja then summits Kanchenjunga on 15 May in a single 22-hour push passing all base camps. While descending from the summit, at 8,450 m (27,720 ft) and still in the death zone, Purja and his team encounter two stricken Indian climbers; despite giving them all their oxygen and waiting for 12 hours for help which is continually promised, but never arrives. Eventually one tragically dies in Purja’s arms, while the other succumbs later back at camp 4 – During this, Purja suffers HACE (a medical condition in which the brain swells with fluid because of the physiological effects of travelling to a high altitude) helping a third lost climber, and yet fights on, knowing the other climber is reliant on him, and leads them both successfully back to basecamp!

Significantly behind schedule and questioning himself after the deaths on Annapurna and Kanchenjunga, Purja choses to push on, and summits the three neighbouring eight-thousanders of Everest on 22 May, Lhotse on 23 May, and Makalu on 24 May, in a record 48-hour push, taking a photograph of the large queue that had formed at the Hillary Step on Everest.

The film also includes interviews from Purja’s wife and brothers about his early life and career in the British Armed Forces, both within the Gurkas and the Special Boat Squadron (SBS). And the sacrifices and financial risks that Purja took to create Project Possible. That despite several attempts to secure funding for the project, all of which were unsuccessful, leaving him to remortgage his own family home, and finance the project himself.

Throughout the film, he also shared his mother’s poor health, the challenges he had in honouring her, and the Nepalese people.  He also shared details of a near-death experience from a sniper bullet to the face while on duty with the SBS. All of this, shows the character of the man, the challenges he has faced, the sacrifices he has made, the choices he has faced in order to bring Project possible to fruition.

Purja then moves to the Karakoram eight-thousanders summiting Nanga Parbat on 3 July, but taking a 100 m (300 ft) fall while descending that was only arrested when he managed to grab hold of a random fixed rope that had been left behind. At one point, Purja tells the camera:

I always say to myself, I’m not going to die today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today

Not allowing anything to detur him, he summits Gasherbrum I on 15 July and Gasherbrum II 18 July. When Purja arrives at K2 (also one of the most dangerous eight-thousanders), spirits at Base Camp are very low, after high levels of avalanches meant that most teams are preparing to abandon their climbs for the enture season. However, Purja’s team breaks out some alcohol and has a party to lift spirits, sharing with them stories of their own summits and the mission they are on. The next day, Purja and his team begin climbing K2 and lay down fixed ropes in the dangerous Bottleneck section of the climb at 1am (when the snow is hardest and at its most stable). Purja successfully summits K2 on 24 July, and over the next two days, 24 other climbers use the fixed ropes laid down by his team to summit the mountain also. Two days later, Purja summits Broad Peak on 26 July, thus completing a 23-day push to climb the 5 eight-thousanders in the Karakoram.

Purja rushes back to Kathmandu to be with his mother who has suffered a heart attack, and spends little time with her. But, despite this, and her ailing health, he is determined to both honour her, and the mission. He returns to summit Cho Oyu on 23 September, and Manaslu on 27 September. Only to then have to spend a few weeks lobbying Nepali politicians to help him secure a permit from the Chinese to climb Shishapangma in Tibet.  Some weeks later, and after launching a social media compaign to encourage others to help put pressure on the chinese government to allow this project to continue, he gains the permit and successfully summits on 29 October 2019. Purja is seen calling his dying mother on a Sat-phone from the summit:

“We did it”

Later we see Purja reunited with his mother and the world’s media then gather to celebrate the conclusion of his Project Possible.

Purja told Climbing (a major US-based Climbing magazine)  that Project Possible was a way of countering the constant scepticism he encountered before starting, and particularly raising sponsorship for the project, as he struggled to convince investors that his goals were realistic and that he was the climber to achieve them. When he summited the first peak, Annapurna I on 23 April 2019, Purja had only locked down 15 per cent of the financing he needed, and most of this money had come from remortgaging his own UK house.

As the project continued, he raised funds both through GoFundMe campaigns, and eventually corporate sponsorship (e.g. rebranding the project as Bremont Project Possible). After Bremount who got to hear of him through his military connections agreed to co-sponsor later parts of the project.

On completion of the project, Purja told Redbull:

“It’s been one financial risk after the other. I say this project has been ‘horrifically amazing”

The former British Marine was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2016 for his mountaineering achievements. In the process of completing “Project Possible”, he broke six further records — including the fastest summit of the three highest mountains in the world.

Records set

  1. Fastest ascent of all 14 eight-thousanders in 6 months and 6 days (the previous record was 7 years and 310 days by South Korean climber Kim Chang-Ho)
  2. Fastest ascent of the 5 highest eight-thousanders in 70 days (the record for climbing without supplementary oxygen is 4 years and 219 days by Spanish brothers Alberto Iñurrategi and Felix Iñurrategi).
  3. Fastest triple-header of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in 2 days and 30 minutes (Purja was the previous record holder from 2017).

What I took from this…

  • ANYTHING is possible, you just have to believe
  • Never take NO for an answer
  • A lack of funding doesn’t mean you stop, it means you haven’t conveyed the value well enough
  • How legislation and paperwork can put a stop to anything. And, how social pressure can influence governments to continue!

But also, it made me ask some tough questions:

  • Would Sir Edmund Hilary or other Western Climbers have had such problems securing funding/support?
  • Why do SO MANY PEOPLE feel it necessary to summit Everest (circa 400 a day for 2 days were summiting when Purja was there) Most of these are not climbers, but tourists ticking it off a list, whilst putting both Sherpa’s and most others on the mountain at risk!
  • How TEAM is everything and having one that believes in you in key to YOU achieving more
  • How some are takers, happy for you to do the work, as long as it enables them to achieve their own agenda
  • Both the endurance and fragility of human life.  What we can endure when we set our mind to achieve something.  And yet, how we can jeopardize all of that in responding to the need to help another
  • The importance of family, belief, heritage, culture, belief, belonging and identity

If you’ve not yet watched it, I strongly recommend you carve some time out and give it a viewing

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you took from the film?

13 reasons you NEED a coach

13 reasons your business is suffering (if you don’t already have a coach)

Whether you’ve ‘bitten the bullet’ and quit, been made redundant, inherited or otherwise. You’ve made the shift from employee to the business owner. Congratulations, you’ve just joined the ranks of individuals who will become successful entrepreneurs — or failed ones.

Naturally, once you’ve established your start-up company, the question becomes:

How can you maintain an amazing organization as a new entrepreneur?”

Being an experienced professional in one’s field is one thing; being a professional and successful business owner is another.

We’ve spent over 7 years surveying over 117K Businesses to identify the most common risks (and how to avoid them) along with the hidden opportunities so many miss sight of.

Business owners often believe they know everything and no longer need anyone to look after them. At the same time, as their businesses get larger and more prosperous, successful entrepreneurs seek new guidance and more accountability. That’s fantastic if your start-up is performing well. Be mindful, however, that new accomplishments will bring new challenges.

In any event, a decline always sets in beyond a certain point. It is impossible to reach the top without help from others. The situation occurs all the time. Simply think of it as a phase in a start-up’s life.

Entrepreneurs face a range of issues that require a variety of answers. If you lack a clear goal and plan, you will be distracted and challenged at every turn. The most important thing you can do for yourself as an entrepreneur is to connect with others, either through a peer-to-peer support group, or better still a coaching/mentoring program. A coach/mentor can help you expand quickly and support you to oversee your business’s growth.

Why do you need a coach?

The best athletes in the world, the top performers, actors, musicians, and political leaders all hire coaches to help them succeed, so why wouldn’t you? Adter all, it’s the only way to discover what you’re capable of is to be pushed out of your comfort zone.

Here’s why you should consider hiring a business coach to do just that.

1. Accountability

As the business owner, who holds YOU accountable? Who determines the speed and direction of travel, and ensures ALL the decisions, time, energy and investment made, is directly impacting the goals and aspirations you desire?

We can ALL suffer from SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome) and so without an accountability partner, you are already being drawn off course, and away from achieving ALL you are capable of!

A business coach will enable you to see your potential so you can leverage your talents and abilities, but they will also hold you accountable. We all do better when we must answer to someone for our actions. If you start to get side-tracked, a good coach will make sure you follow through on what you said you would do. They will motivate you while also keeping you accountable and tracking your progress.

I often refer to this as Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) Those great ideas or opportunities that we all face, often take us just one degree off course, but prevent us from ever achieving what we first set out to achieve!
Through our commitments section within the #ADDAZERO Methodology, we agree on what you will and won’t be doing and held to account for the agreed actions you and I shall be taking to activate and accelerate the growth of both you and your business.

2. Attainable/Stretch Goals

Whether you are ready to admit it or not, the majority of business owners ‘play it safe’. You might ‘think’ you’ve set some pretty ambitious goals? But, the fact that only 1% of Start-up businesses ever SMASH their original goals, shows that the mass majority fail to achieve their (or the businesses) FULL potential.

Your coach will help you visualize and reach your goals, working with you step by step to define what you want and how to achieve it. I don’t subscribe to SMART objectives (and neither should you as an entrepreneur), instead, we agree on a set of BFHAG DUMB goals, and set about to achieve those instead. Whether it’s evaluating your schedule, prioritizing your tasks or helping you to manage your time more efficiently, we will work together to make sure you get more of your goals accomplished in both business and life.

The Vision/Values and Goal setting element of the #ADDAZERO Methodology identifies exactly what you want to achieve in life, so that you can both live and leave a legacy, then ensures both you and your business are aligned with being able to achieve this, quickly and efficiently.

3. Organization

How much time do you spend PLANNING in your business? How much time do you spend IMPLEMENTING? and how much time do you WASTE? As a business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by your day-to-day tasks. It’s so typical of owners to fall into the trap of BUSYness, at the expense of growing an effective Business!

As a business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by your day-to-day tasks. With a business coach, you’ll get the structure and organization necessary to run your business like a well-oiled machine. We help you implement and maintain systems and structures for success. We shall provide you with effective time-management plans, as well as tips and strategies to enhance your performance based on your work style and personality.

By determining what you want to achieve, and the parameters you wish to work within, we can review the model, structure and strategies employed to ensure you and the business are working as efficiently as possible, in pursuit of your goals.

4. Business plan

Our research, (into more than 177K businesses and what causes them to fail) showed the NUMBER ONE reason a business fails, is the lack of an up-to-date, shared and followed business plan!

No matter where you’re at in your business, a skilled coach will guide you on how to craft the perfect business plan and help you implement and maintain systems for success. From clear and specific objectives to strategic action steps, you’ll learn the essential elements of a successful business plan.

Trust me, a Business plan is not just for funding. It’s the roadmap on which successful entrepreneurs use to map their journey to success. It becomes a living document to which all major decisions are made, and enables us to map the journey to which we shall take to #ADDAZERO.

5. Marketing ideas

If you always do, what you’ve always done? Then you’ll always have (at best) what you have already!

So many people get marketing WRONG. They either do the same as everyone else and hope for a different result or do the right things in the wrong order and then wonder why it has little to no effect?

Whether you don’t have the time to develop a marketing plan or you’re not sure how to produce a valuable one, a business coach will help create a personalized, easy-to-implement marketing strategy. You’ll learn how to attract new leads, and convert more into a profitable business while adding value to your current client relationships.

Having a better understanding of your ideal target client audience, and how to attract them is key to maximising efficiencies across the business. And our 17-step Marketing Management has been specifically devised with this in mind.

6. Unbiased insight

It was Donald Rumsfeld that is recorded as having said

We don’t know, WHAT we don’t know

and how right he was.

As the business owner, you are intrinsically linked to the business. It’s yours, you know it inside out, and you are passionate and committed to its success.

Yet when did you stop to learn as much as you know about what it is you do, about Marketing, Sales, Finance, Infrastructure, Systems, Processes, Automation, People, Recruitment, Retention, Remuneration, Pricing, Packaging and everything else that running a successful growing business demands?

With a business coach, you get unbiased, constructive feedback. Your co-workers, friends or family members (whether you like it or not) are biased in their opinions. In contrast, when you hire a business coach, they will be able to offer you insights that other people in your circle may not be able to. They can often uncover solutions that those close to you or your business may overlook.

“You don’t know, what you don’t know” and yet it is often that which is the greatest hurdle to making the biggest progress both you and the business are capable of. Your business coach/mentor has the ability to determine how best to overcome/address this and works with you to support you in both personal and professional development.

7. Self-confidence

Whether it’s the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of getting it wrong, or simply the fear of the unknown? At some stage in your business’s growth journey, you’re going to stop, because the fear holds you back! When you’re working toward your goals, it can feel like you’re not where you want to be.

A business coach will be there to help you see how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. They’ll provide support and encouragement, so you’ll eventually learn to lead with confidence and overcome challenges. They will also remind you to celebrate your wins.

Whether it’s a fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of the unknown, we all face uncertainty, and yet it is often this, that prevents us from making the big decisions that make the biggest difference to both us and the capabilities of the business. We’ll work together to review what causes these limiting beliefs and how to overcome them. (Our 18 ways to become unstoppable, is a great way to review and address this).

8. Fresh perspective

It was Einstein who suggested the definition of Insanity, is doing the same thing, again and again, and again, still hoping for a different outcome! And yet, so many business owners are still doing what they did last year, the year before, and the year before that, still hoping that “This time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires”

When you’re too in the weeds of your business, it can be easy to overlook the obvious. The fresh perspective of a business coach can help you identify problems and solutions that you would have never thought of. They will increase your self-awareness and point out your blind spots, so you can perform at your best.

The benefits of a coach that has both a breadth and depth of knowledge come into their own here. Coaching (done well) is one of the most treasured positions, whereby we get to support you in a way no other can. By bringing knowledge, experience and perspective gleaned from years within both our own businesses and that supporting countless others. We can bring consideration that no other will have the ability to do so.

9. Growth

Too many business owners get to a certain level of Turnover, or a certain level of personal income, and then take their foot off the gas!

They somehow think, that to grow a business more, determines MORE hours, MORE effort, MORE risk and have become so comfortable with where they are, that the thought of doing any MORE is the last thing they want to do!

Perhaps your income has remained the same year after year, or maybe you haven’t increased the quantity or quality of your leads. If you’ve hit a plateau, a coach/mentor can take your business to the next level by assisting you in creating a strategic, business-boosting plan. They will help you sort and qualify your database so that you can clearly determine how best to generate the kinds of leads that result in substantial growth.

Our #ADDAZERO methodology has not only been implemented successfully in thousands of other businesses but has also been recognised nationally and internationally with awards for its impact on businesses. It’s also seen no less than EIGHT of our clients as National Entrepreneur of the Year finalists, and countless others winning both regional and industry awards for growth.

But beyond this, it’s enabled them to buy their ‘forever’ dream home, take extensive exotic holidays with their family, and fall back in love with their business because of the reward it now provides for their continued efforts.

10. Balance

Surely, the whole point of growing your own business, is that it provides handsomely for you, your family, and your employees. Whilst providing a great quality of life, and the freedom to do more of what you want, where you want, when and with who you want?

Then why is it, so many business owners admit to “working harder than they ever have done before”

The right business coach will teach you how to balance your professional and personal life. As a business owner, you can often fall into the habit of devoting all your time and energy to work. Your coach/mentor will encourage you to take a break to indulge in an activity you enjoy or spend time with loved ones. When your mind is sharp and your attitude is positive, your business will thrive.

After all, it’s all about you and your achievements, and what the word success means to you. We support you to both set new heights and achieve them. Whilst creating a legacy for others to follow, that as you exit there is a continued succession plan, that others strive to follow, creating a sustainable business, that provides for both you, and your employees long after your last working day.

With the right business coach/mentor. you gain a trusted advisor who will guide you on your path to success. They will put things in perspective and provide you with invaluable ideas and strategies. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to scale your business, investing in a coach is one of the best ROI decisions you can ever make.

How to identify the right coach/mentor

You have now recognized the value of hiring the right coach to help you with your business. Now let’s see how to pick the right one:

1.     Employ a coach who has been where you want to go

Whilst there are numerous people who can read from a crib sheet and advise you on the theory of what is possible. You might consider finding someone who has experience in owning, growing and running a successful business, as your mentor or coach. As an entrepreneur, you ought to be mentored by someone with an established track record, of knowing how to apply the theory in practical terms that get real results.

You can bet there are hundreds of so-called business professionals operating “scam” geniuses. With some copywriting magic, anyone can convince you that he or she knows what he or she is talking about. But that doesn’t mean that person actually does or has any real experience of implementing those decisions and working through the impact they have.

How can you determine whether a coach is real? You should first do your research and make sure the person has a track record of success. Do they have any case studies or testimonials on the website, is there the option to speak with/meet existing customers? Can you ‘sample’ their coaching before signing up for an extended programme?

2.     Meet other entrepreneurs who are dealing with similar issues

Entrepreneurship can make you feel as if you’re stranded on an island, cut off from the rest of the world and with no one to turn to for support.

For that reason, enrolling in a coaching program alongside others can offer significant advantages; beyond the directly obvious.  These programs bring together entrepreneurs from other companies to deal with similar challenges and can help you figure out which mentors or programs are worth your money and time.

3.     Make connections with successful business owners

When you join a coaching program or hire a coach/mentor, you also want to network with other entrepreneurs. Not only will these connections potentially help you identify the best direction to take your business to the next level, but your network is an invaluable tool in its own right.

Your network determines your net worth. Whether you like it or not, the people you spend the most time with will impact you the most. By spending time with successful small-business owners, both your learning and earnings are likely to increase.

Today’s top entrepreneurs spend tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pounds on coaching, even when their businesses are doing well, because coaching/mentoring helps people accelerate both themselves and their businesses, beyond the realistic and possible, to new heights otherwise unreachable alone. It gives you the confidence and competence to do new things, and bot the support network and accountability required to exceed individual capability.

So, now you know both why and how to select the right Business Coach: are you ready to #ADDAZERO?

Jay Allen is the Chief ScaleUp Sherpa within My TrueNORTH, The Ethical Coaching Company, and Founder of the #ADDAZERO Business Challenge.

Having spent more than 7 years researching the cause of Big Business Failure, to really understand the FLAWS within so many businesses, that prevent them from ever achieving all they are capable of. We’ve made it our mission to support 1,000,000 Business Owners to #ADDAZERO to their Personal Disposable Income. Growing their businesses sufficiently to create at least 3 new roles per business, and collectively eradicating unemployment in the UK, by creating more new roles than there are those actively seeking employment.

The 7 year itch

If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, you’ve probably heard one person or another throw around the concept of the “seven-year itch.”

(A coin of phrase originating from the 1955 American romantic comedy film of the same name directed by Billy Wilder).

How to survive the 7 year itch

This phrase usually refers to a point in a relationship where one or both partners start to become bored or dissatisfied in the relationship. And whilst there is little to no evidence to support this directly, there is an emerging amount of evidence as to why we should pay more attention to it.

The human body constantly develops and changes throughout the human life cycle. The significant stages of the human lifecycle are:

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Infancy
  3. The toddler years
  4. Childhood
  5. Puberty
  6. Older adolescence
  7. Adulthood
  8. Middle age
  9. The senior years

In the Bible, Psalm 90:10 (King James Version)

The days of our years are threescore years and ten.

And, if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

In this sense, it was always assumed the average lifespan of humans is around 70 years, and should we survive longer than this, it be a decline in both our ability to function and our desire to do so.

Therefore if we use this as our model, and divide the 9 stages of life across the expected lifespan equally it supports my theory that we actually grow up in years of SEVEN!

7+7+7

For the first 7 years, we have been entirely reliant on others. (Be that parent, Guardian etc)

Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” ― Aristotle

Between 7 and 14, we are learning to become independent. From 14 to 21 we are demanding our independence. From 21 to 28, understanding where our independence fits inside society and the world at large.

From 28-35 many people settle and become co-dependent, and some between 35-42 choose to have their own dependence (and so it goes on).

So what?

Well, knowing this, we can now ‘plot’ what else may be happening in their lives, and where there priorities may lay?

To best give an example of this, I’d like to sell you a washing machine!

You are 25, and you walk into my store advising looking for a washing machine:

“I’ve got just the thing for you. This washing machine comes in 17 different colours, is available on no deposit, with nothing to pay for three months and 0% interest-free finance payable over 4 years. What’s more, we have them all in stock and could have it delivered and fitted for you tomorrow. Would you like to buy a washing machine?”

You are 35, and you walk into my store advising looking for a washing machine:

“I’ve got just the thing for you. This washing machine has won several national and international awards for its eco-credentials, saving both water and electricity. What’s more, with its intelligent programming, App-enabled functionality and 9Kg drum. You can put the whole week’s wash in one load and it will work out what and how to wash effectively. We will also gladly take your old machine away during the installation and recycle it in an ethical manner. Would you like to buy a washing machine?”

You are 45, and you walk into my store advising looking for a washing machine:

“I’ve got just the thing for you. This washing machine is the industry leader and comes with a 10-year guarantee. Not only does it wash, but also has a rapid dry function, a ‘forget-me-not’ draw on the front for those last-minute editions and is the quietest machine on the market. Would you like to buy a washing machine?”

So what?

It’s the same washing machine!

Determining what else you’re likely to have in your life will determine which of these features and benefits are more likely to be of importance to you. And tailored my approach to what to share to demonstrate its suitability!

The Cycle of Life x 4

Just as we’ve looked at the 9 periods within a human life cycle, there is also other life cycles to consider:

  1. You
  2. Your team
  3. Your products/services
  4. The Industry/Profession you operate within
  • You: What period of the life cycle are you? And what are your highest priorities right now?
  • Team: Do you have a young, middle-aged or ageing workforce? Who are the emerging leaders ready to take this business to the next level?
  • Product/Service: How relevant are you? Are you an innovator, or are you becoming a laggard?
  • Industry/Profession: Where in the Industry heading, and are you leading the way or struggling to keep up?

Ready to have a discussion?

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