Business Coach: UK Business Coaching & Mentoring Services
Are you looking for a business coach in the UK?
These are just two definitions and you can, of course, find many more – I will give you my own definitions for what it’s worth and a coach to me, is someone designed to bring out the best in an individual or team and to help effect a transformation from the ‘now’ to the desired goal.
A business mentor is someone who offers guidance based upon their life experiences and who have often been ‘in the shoes’ of the mentee.
But that is my take!
To me, the terms ‘consultant,’ trainer,’ ‘coach’ and ‘mentor’ all overlap to some degree what really matters is what you do for your client.
I will often perform a consulting role for some companies as they simply need a specific task performed to help them – to help them construct a risk assessment for their business plan for example and I will also train members of staff in say sales, but coaching and mentoring are the preferred routes for me, because I can help the person become their own ‘teacher’ and not be dependent on me or anyone else.
This is why I resonate with the terms ‘coach and ‘mentor’ as for me personally, I want to learn from someone else and their experiences, but I want to develop myself and find my own way.
In the beginning, I thought that I would simply have to go out and just do it all myself until I realized the help that a true mentor and business coach can give you.
My Business Story
At the age of 19 and after a stint working as a canvasser for a home improvements company, I decided to start my own promotions company.
Both of us had attended Basingstoke Technical College to further what pathetic education we had acquired through the usual channel of school, failing miserably and we were heading for the same failure at the college, largely because we were too busy watching Martial Arts films at my friends house (he lived just across the road from the college) and our lecturers didn’t really inspire us as we were beyond inspiration and fixated on doing exactly what we wanted to do.
So business was our only option and with absolutely no business experience or business education we decided that it was time to go out there and ‘do it.’
We met a very helpful guy who ran his own marketing company and he was the landlord of our new office premises, which he kindly rented to us and provided receptionist services as well at a reduced rate to help us get off the ground.
He was offering us a ton of free information and acting the part of a true mentor – telling us how he got started and the problems and challenges he faced.
However, he was a well-educated man, had a solid career history and had naturally made the transition from corporate employment to starting his own company. He explained to us how he landed his first major client and after several failed meetings, he put a lot of his money on the line, which he had borrowed himself and hired a Rolls Royce to pick up his client and take them to lunch!
The gamble paid off and it put him firmly on the business map!.
That was all we needed to hear and with the thought of a very nice car in our sights, we were off and into the big world of business.
Armed with our vast experience, nice suits and the belief that nothing in this world could stop us, we went from never accepting the ‘now’ and always trying to follow our dreams and worked and we made some good money.
Sadly, my partner was going through a host of personal problems and left to live in another part of the UK.
So now I was on my own, with a bank loan and now had to move on as best as I could.
But we had both learned that you need to have some form of guidance and it was something for me that would and still does continue to this day.
When I took a commercial sales role to broaden my experience, I met a guy who completely transformed my thoughts, views, and ability in the area of sales.
He made me see the importance of having the right personal presentation, communication as well as sales skills which he taught me first hand.
Here was someone who could not only ‘talk the talk,’ but ‘walk the walk’ and he went out there and led by example. This is a great example of mentoring as well as coaching because I was leaning through example and then changing my own approach, which only served to not only make me better but to acquire skills I would go on to use throughout my entire business career.
The same can be said when I entered the world of staffing/recruitment – I was taught by people who would ‘do it’ as well as ‘teach it’ and I would again, develop skills that would serve me throughout my business and entrepreneurial life.
I have been coached and mentored by many more people and from very diverse fields – business, the Military, Martial Artists, music and even the odd chef or two!
Anyone can be a mentor and everyone should be a mentor as we all have something to offer and are lacking in some skill or another.
Coaching is different because it requires the ability to bring the best out of people as I said earlier, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that a good mentor can be a good coach.
Why You Need A Business Coach And Mentor
If you are serious about improving your performance and accelerating growth, then you need a coach/mentor or both.
It’s that simple.
In cover mentoring in greater detail here, so you can take a look and delve a little deeper.
One of the key reasons I believe a mentor is very important is to simply keep your ego in check – we entrepreneurs always know best, right?
It’s in our nature and why let some other ‘expert’ tell us any different? Well, I look back now and wish I had listened to some of those experts, who really did know their stuff.
I have certainly let my ego run away with me in the past.
Ego can destroy a business and in fact anything if you let it run away with you and if you think differently, then look at a quote from a serious entrepreneur, who I had the privilege to meet personally some years back and that is Luke Johnson.
He talks about ego in this article here and it shows that each and every entrepreneur can be affected.
Aside from ego, it is also a good feeling to know that you can call someone to simply bounce ideas off and make sure that you are not making the huge mistake of buying into your own ideas or ‘selling to yourself.’
In other words, you are too convinced that your idea or how you are running your business will succeed and you are virtually oblivious to outside information.
This is a death blow to many an entrepreneurial idea.
And a good mentor and business coach will have ‘been in your shoes’ and will be able to relate to you and whatever situation you are in… very quickly.
With coaching, we are now talking about bringing the best out of you and your business – I talk about business and personal coaching and mentoring and for those people in business, they can be one and the same, because the person defines the business.
Let me give you an insight as to how I coach my own three children in their aspirations to be a classical singer and footballers (soccer).
The first thing that I teach them is resilience and the importance of never giving up. I am not a ‘pushy’ parent and I let my children make the choice and if they wanted to change their decisions tomorrow, I would fully support them.
But for me, the mindset is the key to everything and it is much easier to help children develop the right mindset than their adult counterparts!
Alongside resilience, I get them to pick out their favorite singers and footballers and then go and research them online to get a feeling for how they became what they are or where.
Now the work starts because I tell them that to succeed in what is an extremely competitive world, they have to ‘stand out’ and the best way to do that is through both their abilities and their attitudes and it starts with work…hard work!
I am going to give a few examples:
I tell my daughter who is the singer to always learn about musicality rather than simply how to sing – it is what makes a singer own a song and gives the appearance that the performance is effortless.
I explain to her that it is vital to learn the different genres of music as well as musical history – although she is a classical singer, I will often ask her to sing blues and jazz songs to widen her musical knowledge.
As far as coaching is concerned, I cannot sing to inspire her, but I do understand musical pitch and tonality, so I will sit down on the piano with her and play notes and not simply to follow them, but to create other notes above and below to understand musical intervals.
As a Martial Artist and more lately studying Internal Martial Arts, I will teach her specific breathing exercises to help her sing with more power and control.
For my footballing sons, there is no point in me teaching them football skills as I am not a qualified football coach, but I do understand how the body moves and I have some very specific and interesting exercises I teach them to build strength without using weights for example.
In both cases, I teach the big picture and how everything is interconnected – a singer needs power, control, pitch, and musicality, and a footballer needs speed, agility, balance, strength and of course the necessary skills.
But the main things I teach them are that to succeed, you have to work and hard work will always beet smart work in the beginning – the harder you work, the smarter you become and to beat the other guy, you have to do what they don’t.
Take the boxer Floyd Mayweather and he has the words ” hard work” and “dedication” instilled into his fighters and staying with boxing, Mike Tyson was asked once why he ran at 04:30 in the mornings and he explained that he knew the other fighter wouldn’t be up that early!
You can find so many other examples along similar lines.
When my daughter returns from a full Saturday of singing and music, we will spend the early part of the evening singing, but for pleasure – when my boys finish football on the same Saturday, we will spend the evening (after my daughter) practicing the most flamboyant skills to Latin Music!
Most importantly, I teach them how to practice as practice does not make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect!
It all comes back to working on philosophy, skills development and taking action. You have to help the person or the company get from where they are to where they want to be. Period.
How To Identify And Seek The Right Business Coach
Before you start to look, it is important for you to understand why you want a coach and or a mentor.
When I speak to someone for the first time, I simply ask them what it is that they need help with and many explain about a specific area of their life, business or both, but more often than not, what they think they need is not what they really need.
Many don’t put enough thought into the process and let’s take me as an example – I wanted to learn everything about business in general, in order to succeed, but what I really needed to learn was how to develop the correct mindset for success and that’s why I wasn’t getting anywhere – you could have fed me every business technique, method, system or whatever, but I would have never actioned it in the right way.
Now we come to the hard part and that is selecting the right person and the first stage is to simply get online and search – you don’t need me to tell you how to do that!
But I will tell you that the coaching, consulting and mentoring world is saturated as people see it as a very lucrative industry and one where you can ‘work the hours you want and earn a nice income.’
If only business was that simple, but back to selecting the coach and you will have a huge choice and see some very aggressive marketing campaigns as everyone is fighting for your dollars!
Try to look beyond the image of whatever you see online and get to the substance part, that is the first piece of advice I can give you.
The point here is to find someone who’s style resonates with you and then simply make contact and take it from there.
If this seems too simple, it is because it is.
There is no secret to this and no ‘one way.’
So let’s go over some of the criteria you can use to evaluate your prospective coach and mentor and I must stress the word ‘some,’ as there are too many aspects to cover in a single article.
It really comes down to this as we are on the subject of business coaching – has the person been in business for themselves?
If not, then you are probably not going to have someone who can relate to what you are going through, It’s not that they cannot help you from an advisory perspective, but have they felt the pressure of business, dealt with uncertainty, pulled themselves out of tough and challenging situations and have they bounced back from failure?
You may get that from their story on their website and that brings me to another point – how quickly to they respond to you after the initial contact and are they contactable by phone? In today’s technology-enabled world, which I support, I still feel there is a need for the human touch, especially in the world of coaching and mentoring,
Is there an offer of a ‘free’ initial chat or meeting and if so, how strict are they in terms of keeping to the allocated time slots – I have had an initial free 30-minute consultation go on for an hour and a half, simply because I ended up delving deeper into the problem to discover it was fixable there and then – there was no need for further coaching and we ended up in a mentoring arrangement that did the same monthly.
Everyone has a commercial value, but does that value drive the process, or does client success come first?
There are a lot of ‘clock watchers’ out there and for many, money drives the process.
Finally, let me talk about qualifications – I have nothing against any form of qualification and as the coaching and mentoring world is growing, so are the number of coaches and many are coming from the qualification route.
I know many people who attend a three-month, six-month or whatever course and come out as a qualified coach.
What is more important to me in the world of business, is that any coach must have the ability to ‘do it’ and not only advise people as to ‘how to do it’ and there is a huge difference.
Running my companies over the years saw many coaches and consultants approach me explaining how they could help and I would always listen to them, as maybe they could.
I was interested in what they could do for me, not their qualifications and the first test I would give to someone (if they had made a direct approach to me and I liked it), was to come in for a face-to-face meeting.
However most would fail at the first hurdle and that was when I would ask them to tell me about my company, my goals, vision and precisely how they would go about helping me.
This information was on my website and an Internet search would have given more…but they simply hadn’t done their homework and also please remember that they had approached me!
Now on the other side of the coin, I have called up key people to seek their help and I now measure it in the way and what type of questions they ask me.
I love people who get straight to the point, who can very quickly ‘get it’ and even to the point when they will finish my sentences for me!
Others find this annoying or even rude…but think about what is trying to be achieved!
So the identification part is probably the easiest and then it comes down to doing a bit of ‘discovery’ and finding someone who you resonate with.
Always remember why you want a coach and mentor – the right one will accelerate everything and the wrong one…
What To Expect In Terms Of Cost And Value
Some coaches charge eye-watering fees and that is because they deliver the value that they offer, otherwise they would be out of business. Some charge very little and whatever you are being charged, forget the price and look at the value.
Now you may ask the question as to how could you possibly forget the price? The answer is again, to look at the value and many times I have struck deals with coaches and advisors because their fees were way too expensive in relation to what I could afford to pay, but I knew that I had to have their services to grow, so the entrepreneurial spirit in me would be activated and I would simply try to do a deal of some sorts and many times I was successful with this approach.
Always look at the value and then find a way of affording it if you can – if the math simply doesn’t work, then you have to work down to finding someone who you can afford.
I would like to talk about value for a moment and most people I talk to always think about what they will receive in monetary terms for the fees they will pay. This is not always easy to quantify and I will give you an example:
I coached someone who had suddenly found themselves in a personal crisis – the business element was going well and progress was being made, but this crisis had derailed them. It took literally daily phone calls of anything form ten minutes to two hours for about a month and I am including weekends here, to help the person work through the crisis, which was a similar one to which I had experienced in my own life, so I was able to relate to the experience.
Now this person understood that business would suffer during this period and we were soon back on track – I have had other experiences where people have not understood and while helping them get through a tough personal period and when we are building a new sales strategy, for example, they forget that the personal period still relied upon coaching and mentoring albeit in a different form.
So make sure you take everything into account. I always prefer a situation where there are clear expectations and simply because everyone knows where they stand and a good coach and mentor, will explain that it is their job to help, but not action the results of that help any more than a soccer coach cannot get on the pitch and play for the players!
How to get business coaches and mentors in your area in the UK
Some coaches will require you to pay them upfront and this can prove difficult at the start of a coaching services assignment. You have to look at both points here and that is the risk element that the coach will simply disappear and from the coaches point that information will be given and payment may not be received.
I use a combination of 50% fees being payable in advance and the rest at the end of the working month. This shows me that the person is committed and yes, there is a risk to them that I may disappear with the fee, which of course is a possibility, but before we reach that point, we will have had some meaningful discussions where I will have given some form of value anyway.
What I do not like personally is to have to chase invoices for payment, especially when the person concerned is not shy in contacting me for advice at all hours, which of course is what I am here for, but it works both ways!
Remember, it is all about value, but not all value is tangible at first glance.
How I can help you as your business coach?
One of my key skills is to very quickly get to the heart of the matter and create a strategy to solve a problem or to further enhance what has been achieved to date.
With my own children, I can detect if there is the slightest of problems from how they act, their demeanor, etc.
You would expect this of course from their Father, but I do this with most people, even from the first interaction and for me, it is instinctive and the result of nearly 40 years in business and of course life.
So what? you might add.
Instinct plays a vital part in business and it is the basis of entrepreneurship and it is something that cannot be taught. Having spent all of my business life ‘in the trenches’ and finding out what works and what doesn’t, I can also tell you that I am totally self-made, there were no family handouts or rich investors.
I have also had the experience of ‘boing bust’ and that provided me with a learning experience that no business school could have taught me.
But what I really understand is how to build and grow a business from scratch, with very little capital and to generate sales at the highest level and with large, medium and small companies.
I approach everything from a ‘holistic ‘ perspective and that means every part, process, and system of the business is interconnected and it is essential to have a deep understanding of each part and how they interconnect. For example, there is no point in mounting an aggressive sales drive, hiring more salespeople and investing in the associated costs if your cash flow is not optimal.
I’ve also seen companies invest heavily in state-of-the-art technology, designing elaborate processes and procedures without having any idea of how they are going to drive sales.
Before I agree to any coaching/mentoring/consulting assignment, I make sure that I can deliver from the outset, otherwise I will not accept it – in my business career, I have turned away clients for the reason that I cannot help them and also even recommended them to my competition, as the interests of the client must come first.
I would rather maintain my integrity and reputation that take on an assignment that I will not deliver correctly, after nearly 40 years in business, there is no point in ruining it now!
But if I do agree, then it is a total commitment and I always have my phone switched on and will take calls 24/7 – I was the first to launch that very same service for my staffing business back in the day, so it is not new for me and I realize that in the business world, things occur and change in a heartbeat and agendas end up being thrown out of the window in the next heartbeat.
You can find me at www.neiljcfranklin.com/coaching-and-mentoring/
Some Final Words…
In today’s economic world, which is more uncertain and volatile than possible ever, entrepreneurs and businesspeople need all of the help they can get.
Take a look at this article to see a perspective from the US and soon, I believe that if you don’t have a business coach, you will be in the minority.
I know personally how lonely the role of an entrepreneur is and people don’t always look at that side of things and that is where you can suddenly find yourself ‘losing it’ and I know I did on a few occasions.
I was lucky in that I did have a couple of really good coaches/mentors who would give me advice and also get me back on track – they would make sure I was aware of my role as a CEO and business owner which is very hard when you are facing extremely tough times and in my personal experience, surviving three tough recessions.
That is where it is extremely hard to put a value on the cost of a coach, but what would have happened if I didn’t get back on track – I can tell you that sales would have slipped and people would have lost their drive and motivation, because they may have seen me lose mine!
I love to learn about great leaders and in any field and as my Son’s are so into football (soccer), I will give you an example of the effectiveness of a coach and you would think that the soccer stars of today, given their undoubted ability would be able to work out how to play against another team and win, or evaluate how and why they lost if they did.
But every team has a business coach near me, so how is it that one change of coach can dramatically improve or reduce the chances of the entire team succeeding?
It’s simple – they know how to get the best out of the team and how to spot a potential declining performance from any member of the squad and correct it before it does too much damage!
Of course, it is an oversimplification, but the simple things do work and I mentioned two chefs who inspired, mentored and coached me in cooking, which is another passion of mine.
They were two top Italian chefs who simply told me to keep everything simple and let the ingredients do the talking and motivate the eating.
Prior to that, I was obsessed with cooking like a Michelin Starred chef and way overcomplicated everything. Even when I was fortunate enough to meet a few chefs of that ilk, they still told me that when they cook outside of their restaurants, they keep it simple!
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