Business coaching can push the odds in your firm’s favour

In today’s highly competitive markets, more and more businesses are going under. A business coach can be the difference between not only surviving, but flourishing

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Gary McMillan (centre) of the Horizon Group - a successful and happy ActionCOACH client

The global financial crisis gave rise to a harsh reality. Businesses by the thousands were forced to shut down, while markets themselves became increasingly competitive and complex. Amid this tense environment, many have turned to business coaches to ensure they do not suffer the same fate as many of their peers. Indeed, the principal of business coaching is not only to prevent shutting up shop, but to help a business thrive, allowing its owners to reach the goals they set for themselves when they first started out.

Business coaching can be a vital tool for those who wish to excel in their chosen field, through bouncing ideas and forming solutions, as well as strategy collaboration. From a wide range of proven business strategies, coaches are able to help their clients choose the most suitable one for them specifically, given their industry, size and ultimate goals. Through this kind of support, business leaders can focus on their vision and shape the path needed to get them there. In light of the growing popularity of business coaching, European CEO spoke with Ian Christelow, UK co-founder of ActionCOACH, about the reasons behind this trend.

What does business coaching entail?

Helping a business owner get their business from where it is now to where they want it to be. Most of our clients want to be making more money and working fewer hours, so they can enjoy the lifestyle they dreamt of when they first decided to set up their own business. At ActionCOACH, we have some great systems and tools for helping business owners get clarity on their dreams, goals and plans. Before we help them to start their action plan, we’ll firstly find out what they have already done, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

How can business coaching help a company to grow and develop?
For our team, it’s not about getting hung up on the word ‘coaching’ – we’re all about results. So, if we need to consult, train or teach to get the best result, we’ll do that. Research company Smith & Henderson surveyed 250 of our UK clients about the results they have had from hiring ActionCOACH, and the responses were compelling.

The CEO of Smith & Henderson, Steven Frost, shared an interesting thought: “I don’t know another business service which guarantees a return on investment.” So, yes, this works for any business, and we’ll guarantee that gross profits will go up by more than the investment in a business growth programme inside six months, as long as the owner does the work on their business that they agree to.

There is an array of areas to get right in business, and I’m yet to meet a business owner who has all of these in place prior to working with ActionCOACH. If a core building block of a business is missed, the consequences can be disastrous; that’s the biggest reason nine out of every 10 UK businesses fail in their first 10 years. Since 1993, ActionCOACH has amassed over 3,500 strategies and tactics to grow a business, from which our skilled team of over 150 business growth specialists help the owner to select the most impactful strategies for their business.

There has been a surge of interest in business coaching in recent years, what can that be attributed to?
One word: ActionCOACH. Nobody knew what a business coach did when we first brought the business coaching profession to the UK in 2001. ActionCOACH’s marketing, coupled with mixed associations with the word ‘consultant’, has led to thousands of people now calling themselves business coaches in the UK.

If a core building block of a business is missed, the consequences can be disastrous

In our experience, we are yet to find a type of business this doesn’t work for, and we have over 1,000 clients in the UK. It’s much more down to the mindset of the business owner. We know our systems work, but they require an open mind and participation from our clients.

What sets ActionCOACH apart from other business coaching enterprises?
Most people now have a perception of what a business coach is and does. What sets an ActionCOACH business growth specialist apart from the thousands of one-man band business coaches in the industry is access to a toolbox of proven profit-growth and business-building strategies. What’s more, our team also has access to 1,000 business growth specialists around the world, access to our strategic partners, and the confidence to give an ROI guarantee to any business owner investing in a one-to-one programme, or your money back. In fact, since 2001, ActionCOACH has only had to give two refunds on its one-to-one programmes in the UK.

What impact can ActionCOACH have on a business?
This is probably best summed up by a couple of our 1,000 client testimonials. Gary McMillan of the Horizon Group said his business had “no direction, no plan and no profits” when he started working with ActionCOACH two years ago. He had his business valued in March 2015, and it was valued at £4.5m – a significant return on his investment.

Tim Jeffs of Jenova and Wacnet said that he never went on holiday or did anything for himself, because he was so busy with his business. But since he started working with ActionCOACH, he’s found the time to climb mountains, go sailing and spend time with his children. While so many other merchandising and logistics companies went under during the recession, Jeffs was able to more than double staff numbers in his two businesses – from six to 13. Wacnet’s turnover doubled, from £700,000 to £1.4m. while Jenova is on target to increase from £450,000 this financial year to £800,000 in the next. As Jeffs said himself: “This is the first time we’ve made a profit on both companies.”

What has been your most satisfying coaching experience?
Personally, coaching the owner of a roofing company to reduce their 80-hour work week by more than half, while doubling their gross profits inside 12 months. And then – after a round of golf and lunch in the clubhouse – watching them get in their car to attend their kids’ school sports day for the first time.

How do you see the business coaching industry evolving in the coming years?
At some point it will become regulated, which is a good thing. People will know how much training their business coach has had, and whether they work for an organisation that gets consistent results.