Running a business is no easy task. Owners wonder how they will juggle all the duties and still run a profitable business. That’s understandable, says Christine McMahon, a performance trainer, business coach, and consultant. A lot hinges on being organized and disciplined, McMahon says. And a big part of that discipline involves organizing your time.
McMahon, president of Christine McMahon & Associates LLC, in Milwaukee, says that business owners must first determine which tasks are essential. “Define what’s negotiable; what you can give up and what you are not willing to give up,” she says. “What is on your docket today is most important.”
Be committed to the project. Don’t let interruptions (noise, phone calls, and such) distract you. Also, be willing to share the workload. Don’t try to dabble in all facets of your business. While that helps you stay abreast of the various functions, it’s simply not possible to do everything well. Outsourcing some tasks, such as bookkeeping, may prove beneficial, she says.
If you’re still having difficulty, consider hiring an organizational coach. That person can show you how to work more efficiently and productively.
Don’t ignore branding efforts
One area often overlooked is a firm’s branding. Think of branding as the perceptions about your firm generated by your actions. “During every interaction with a prospect, customer, peer, or competitor,” McMahon says, “you need to be mindful of the impressions and experiences they have of and with you.”
She offers this helpful question: “What would you want others to say about you?”
Your branding efforts are influenced by the solutions you offer. And because your suggestions affect a business strategically, expect your customers to scrutinize every suggestion. “Even though it is not being said, we are being evaluated,” McMahon adds. “Everything we do and say matters.”
The key to being successful, she says, is to ask the right questions early on. Your initial meetings become in essence reconnaissance missions. Use them to gather important information.
Listen carefully, particularly when prospects describe their businesses and goals. Make sure you know what they mean when they say something. That will minimize problems later on. Customers hire you because they hope your solutions will improve their business situation, McMahon says. Keep in mind the one question on the top of your prospect’s mind: “How will you help me?”
At the same time, strategically assess that the prospect is a good fit. Be willing to say no to certain businesses, she says. It’s better to take a pass then to offer sub-par results.
What to look for in a professional coach or consultant
A professional coach or consultant may be right for you and your organization. Christine McMahon suggests you look for these qualities:
* A genuine desire to help you, the individual, succeed.
* Professional experience. Does the coach understand your industry and the challenges you and your customers face?
* Some of that experience will be evident in the questions you are asked. Are they relevant to your industry and situations?
* A commitment to listening. Is the coach or consultant paying attention? The solutions offered should reflect an understanding of your unique needs and apply to your situation.
* Your coach should offer positive reinforcements and direction. “That person should argue for the possibilities, not the limitations,” McMahon says.