Tag Archives: sme

Business Coaching- What’s all the fuss about? By Tony Ozanne.

CoachingThe growth in the coaching industry has been massive in the last 5-10 years. There are an estimated 47,500 coaches globally and nearly 3,000 in Australia (I.C.F 2012 Survey). It’s a $2 billion industry of which $140 million alone is spent in Australia. It appears there is a coach for everything these days, whether it be business, life, career, emotional, relationship etc. There is the demand and there is the supply to fill it, which is good, but there are also some alarm bell moments for potential clients! So what’s all the fuss about?

Let me be upfront, I am a Business Coach and have been for nearly 3 years since leaving a corporate life of over 23 years with a global franchise brand working within Australia and around the world. I am not here to plug me, but to give some thoughts, tips and benefits on the whole ‘coaching’ thing. For the purpose of this article, I will focus just on the Business Coaching space rather than generalising about the entire industry and the various niches.

Why a Coach?

So, why do businesses invest their hard earned money in a coach, as let’s face it, it’s not a cheap option for a business*.

There are many reasons we get contracted to a business – they are, but not limited to:

  • To force the owner to work ‘on’ their business vs. ‘in’ it.
  • To provide an independent third party perspective on the vision or direction of the business.
  • To help establish or build the vision or goals if they aren’t present.
  • To build systems and processes around the business model (especially if a replication strategy exists).
  • To hold the owner accountable for progress.
  • To be a conduit of resources of expertise in other sectors (coaches don’t know everything, but are usually well connected with people they would recommend).

What’s it cost?

*I mentioned it is a high cost; this is you look at it as a cost versus an investment. Just like spending $ on marketing, accounting, insurances etc. do you look at this as a cost or an investment in the future of the business? A well selected coach can pay for themselves many times over by giving you the focus, planning, structure and advice to grow your business from a good one to a great one and by driving your results.

According to the I.C.F Survey, the average cost for a 1 hour session with a coach in 2012 was $304, with ranges from less than $100 per session to well over the $1000 mark. Many coaches will work on a time based contract, with 12 months being a common term for a business coaching term. The main reason for this is change takes time, especially if no process or system infrastructure exists. Again, this comes back to the viewpoint of cost versus investment. The question has to come back to the basics of the old saying, ‘you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’. Would you get the cheapest Doctor to perform heart surgery, or the best?

What to look for?

If you make the decision to get some outside help with your business it is important to find a ‘fit’ with the coach. This is potentially someone who will be part of your business for one or many years, so the personality must fit.

  • Interview several people when selecting a coach and find one who you can relate to and potentially work with.
  • Ask what they can offer you and how their approach to your business would work
  • Will they understand your industry (sometimes an outside, clean slate approach is best as they can challenge all ideas – a business model is the same regardless of the product or service).
  • What business experience do they have?
  • How accessible are they outside the ongoing sessions? Some don’t allow email, phone contact, so check this out.
  • Do they monitor and measure KPI’s for you or set you up to do so?
  • Find out how they will get to understand your business and the needs either via an Audit process or some form of embedding into it.

Alarm bell moments?

Coach selection, as mentioned in the previous section is critical but there are some watch outs I would advise to a potential client (and many of these I tell people during my sales process).

  • Be cautious of getting trapped into long contracts you can’t get out of.
  • Don’t pay all upfront for long contracts.
  • Do they offer flexibility with terms, times and missed appointments?
  • Are there any guarantee?
  • Have they any referees to validate prior work – check them!
  • Straight out of uni, public service or non-business background.
  • Certified vs. not – to some people this may be an issue, but currently there is no regulation in the coaching industry, but ask the question. I’m not personally certified with the ICF, but am a member and have contemplated certification, but when I ask clients if this is a deciding factor, most say no.
  • No track history or form – you’re the first client!
  • Watch for the instant closer who has the sole focus on getting you to sign a document, get some form of proposal and the potential outcomes from them first.

Is it for you?

The decision on whether to bring a coach into your business is a tough one for many business owners, but this is gradually changing. Many ACT and surrounding businesses have coaches and I personally have seen a big increase in the uptake with the trades sector. Any management book or biography you read on successful leaders normally includes the fact that they have a coach helping them, challenging them or acting as a partner in the growth including the leaders of many leading global brands.

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision and passionately own the vision – a coach will help relentlessly drive this process to completion of execution.” -Jack Welch

“In terms of doing work and in terms of learning and evolving as a person, you just grow more when you get more people’s perspectives.” – Mark Zuckerberg

“The one thing that people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” – Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Coaching does and will make a difference to you and your business, the key is simply to find the right one for you! So what are you waiting for – go and take your business to the next level.

Good Luck…Tony

About Tony.

Following a 23 year career with Yum Restaurants International, the world’s largest restaurant group with over 37,000 units of KFC, PH and Taco Bell, Tony had one of those ‘moments’ and woke one day not wanting to go to work, so he quit the same day. He then joined Small Fish Business Coaching in 2010 and has since digressed to offer not only Coaching, but has presented at a regional conference in Dubai as the key-note speaker and works inside businesses as well as a consultant to ‘do’ some of the items to fast track execution. In 2012 Tony wrote and published his first book ‘Business Tips From a Business Coach’ and is working on a project to interview 100 ACT based businesses to publish a second book this year. Tony is also a member of the Business Boost Centre Expert Panel. More information or to contact Tony, visit www.tonyozanne.com


Do you need a bookkeeper or an accountant? | Flying Solo

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is an excellent guide on selecting the right service for your business. If you aren’t decided about what is right for you and your business, or are thinking of changing your service this post by Heather Smith from Flying Solo (which happens to be a great resource for Small Business) is a must read.

Do you need a bookkeeper or an accountant? | Flying Solo.

Communication is the key to awesome customer service.

This is a true story about communication failure, and it’s a little funny, but had implications for customer delivery.

Cosmo Lounge Suite

A customer purchased a lounge suite and selected a specific colour of fabric. This information was fully documented on the invoice and the order placed with the lounge manufacturer. As the manufacturer builds a lounge suite, they order the appropriate fabrics form the various fabric distributors in the lengths they require for the order. This keeps the manufacturers costs down as they only purchase what they need when they need it. A logical and simple method of not tying up loads of funds an fabrics that may sit on shelves as there are so many variations and choices.

Although the order to the manufacturer was placed via fax (yes many industries are still using the fax as their main form of communication for documents), the manufacturer ordered the fabric from the distributor over the phone. The fabric was dispatched, the lounge suite upholstered and shipped off to the store for delivery to the customer. Many stores do not even get the product in after manufacture. Often it is delivered from manufacturer to customer direct. This reduces handling costs for all concerned and minimises risk of damage to the product.

Quality assurance

In our instance, for quality and customer experience control we get the products delivered to our store for QA inspection before delivery to customer by our in-house teams. Although this is counter intuitive to maximising profits, it is our way of ensuring a consistent quality customer service and experience. A trade off, but one that has paid of many times over.

Colour Samples

On inspection it was discovered that the lounge suite was the wrong colour. The colour wasn’t out just a little, but out by the full width of the colour spectrum. The suite was ordered in a cream colour and received in a dark red. Certainly not what the customer wanted. As the customer was expecting delivery, the situation needed to be managed, customer was informed of the error and the manufacturer was instructed to expedite a replacement in the correct colour.

What went wrong?

The question was… what went wrong and could the error have been avoided?

Well after investigation it was found to have been a simple communication error between the manufacturer and the fabric distributor when the order was placed over the phone.

The fabric colour specified by the customer was Mellow and the lounge was upholstered in the colour Merlot. Two extremely different colours that sound similar over a phone line..

This is how simple errors of communication can undermine a customer experience.

Six reasons why SMEs are so slow to embrace the digital world


This is an interesting article about why the SME community is not embracing the internet and social media. It provides a clearer picture of what the real issues are.

This is well worth reading if you are in the business of providing internet based services to the SME business community.

Six reasons why SMEs are so slow to embrace the digital world.

Comments and points of view are welcome..