The One Thing That Makes the Difference Between Success and Failure in Business

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business coachI started my first business out of the trunk of my car 33 years, ago with my (our) wedding money. Over the next 13 years, I made good money in my business, but I worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Then, I learned two secrets that changed my life.

I learned that the one and only reason your business exists is to be a vehicle to achieve your life goals.

Translation: You have to know what you want out of life first. Then, you have to build the right vehicle to help you get there. Whether it’s a bicycle or a rocket, a vehicle is a system. As a result of developing my personal goals, and building systems in my business, I transformed my first business into a predictable, profitable, multi-million dollar turnkey business.

About twenty years ago, I began coaching other small business owners on my systems. As a result, I’ve owned nine small businesses altogether, I own two phenomenal businesses today, and my training company coaches 369 clients in nine countries.

Having the right coach changes everything

As I look back, there is one thing that made all the difference in my life and career: Having the right coach.

It was a coach who taught me about systems. I had a coach who taught me how to set goals. I had a coach who helped me get healthy. When I fired my coach, I got unhealthy.

The fact is, none of us have all the skills and talents we need to build a phenomenally successful business. We all need support, encouragement, and accountability. In short, we all need a community around us to help us succeed.

We don’t need just one coach—we need many. To be phenomenally successful, we need a community around us that have the gifts and talents we don’t have.

The psychologist K. Anders Ericsson pointed out the role of training in performance in “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”:

“The single most important difference between amateurs and elite performers is that the future elite seek out teachers and coaches and engage in supervised training, whereas the amateurs rarely engage in similar types of practice.”

But it was Gary Keller, the co-founder of Keller-Williams Realty, the world’s largest residential real estate firm and the author of the book, “The One Thing,” who took it further. He found that people who write down their goals are 39.5 percent more likely to achieve them, and those who not only write down goals, but practice weekly accountability, are 76.7 percent more likely to reach them.

Gary’s words of wisdom on the importance of coaching can’t be overestimated. He wrote:

“Ideally, a coach can ‘coach’ you on how to maximize your performance over time. This is how the very best become the very best.”

“… a coach is invaluable. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find elite achievers who don’t have coaches helping them in key areas of their life.”

Like Keller, as I began to review my own life, I realized that where I had been phenomenally successful, I had a coach. Where I wasn’t, I didn’t. For example, my early mentor, Bill Beckham, had a profound impact on my life. He helped me see and realize my gifts and become the person I was created to be.

How to choose the right coach

In his very last book, “Born to Win,” Zig Ziglar shared these seven characteristics of a good coach:

  1. They have good character 

  2. They have a track record of success 

  3. They are good listeners 

  4. They are good decision makers 

  5. They tell the truth (even when it hurts) 

  6. They have good personal relationships 

  7. They celebrate the success of others 


The greatest life lesson I have learned in the past 33 years of being a business owner and two decades of being a business coach is to be around people who are already where you want to be.

All of us need support. We need resources, information, and skill sets that we don’t have.

We all need encouragement when the going gets tough. We need that coach in our corner that gives us the courage to get back in the ring and fight. We need the courage to face some of the big issues that come up in business. We need encouragement to give us hope for the future.

And, we all need accountability to help us build the character we need to have to become the person we want to become.

So, how do you choose the right coach? How do you find the right community for you?

First, review Zig Ziglar’s advice above. Then, think about what your biggest challenge is. Maybe you are great at motivating your team and plenty of ideas for creating and refining your products, but you’re not great at marketing.  

Also keep in mind: You may need a coach or mentor to help you discover your weaknesses.

If you need help in marketing, find a marketing coach that has experience and success in marketing—and that has a track record of success in helping people like you become a better marketer.

The same goes for leadership, sales, finance, and even personal areas such as health or family relationships.

In order to build community, simply choose people who have the same values in life and have a similar outlook on life and support them and encourage them. Invite them to be a part of your group. Together you can support one another. There may be groups that already exist that you can join. Look to small business organizations, chambers of commerce, and other networking opportunities in your industry.

Should you pay for a coach?

My experience has been that free mentorship may be meaningful, but probably won’t take you where you really want to be. A coach who is paid has a vested interest in your success. How much should you pay? That really depends on what level of the game you want to play.

I have personally paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for training, coaching, and consulting, without regret.

So, build a community around you, and as you grow, build community inside your company as well by supporting your team, encouraging them, and helping them be accountable to become the best version of themselves.

When you do that, you’ll inspire others, you’ll “wow” your customers, and ultimately, you’ll make bigger profits.





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