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A blog on business mentoring, executive coaching and career transition coaching by Ross Nichols, the business mentor and coach.

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Diary of a Business Accelerator - PS: The Intuitive Business Plan

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”  (Albert Einstein)

Background

Despite being an experienced business mentor, I became frustrated at my inability to write a plan for my own business.  I’m not held back by a lack of know how - I’ve helped lots of business owners with their plans and in my latter Army days I specialised in plans so I’m comfortable with the concept and skills of planning.  I attended a business accelerator in London in 2016 to try and resolve this once and for all, however this only increased my frustration.  

I allowed this feeling to soak for a while (I’m an experienced coach after all!) then took myself off to figure out what was going on.  What came up was that my business comes from my heart and soul so why was I trying to plan it with my head?  I realised that I was listening to others’ voices telling me that I must have a business plan written in the conventional way.  I decided to let go of this sense of obligation to conform.  To cut a long story short, 2 hours later I looked up and found I’d written a brochure for a package of workshops I wanted to run. This was an empowering experience and I found it almost effortless to follow through to create those workshops and take them to market.  I then realised that if I could develop my business by letting go of the need to follow conventional wisdom, I might be able to plan my business the same way. That’s when I created the Intuitive Business Plan, and subsequently the Intuitive Marketing Plan.

The Intuitive Business Plan

The Intuitive Business Plan is a hybrid of coaching and mentoring approaches.  Part 1 seeks to elicit from business owners who they truly are and what they truly want in their life and business.  By blending exploratory coaching exercises with business knowledge, the business owner arrives at the end of the process with a deep and rich understanding of who they are, where they are going and how they are going to get there.  The Intuitive Business Plan enables business owners to tap into a deeper sense of themselves that allows them to be more of themselves and use their natural strengths, talents and preferences to develop their business.  This removes self-imposed constraints and allows business owners to use their creativity and intuition to create a unique path for their business journey.

Part 2 of the Intuitive Business Plan helps business owners to identify their natural wealth creation strategy.  It also provides them with a simple method for how to have a great relationship with their business.

The Intuitive Marketing Plan

Part 3 in the intuitive series is the Intuitive Marketing Plan.  This builds on parts 1 and 2 of the Intuitive Business Plan to help business owners identify their natural marketing strengths and style.

My Experience to Date

It’s early days for the Intuitive Business and Marketing Plans.  I’ve used them to support an on-line hair extensions business, an interior designer, an aromatherapist, a life coach and a former Army officer in transition as well as with my own business.  The feedback has been very positive, for example:

“In the past year, I approached mentoring with an open mind and heart, knowing that once I did, I would clarify my path and fulfil my need to further identify who I am, what drives me, my purpose and how I achieve it. Ross Nichols was absolutely superb at being able to help me understand and respond to my fears whilst embracing my skills and capabilities. Undeniably the most wonderful mentoring outcome is firmly knowing that I am enough, I am amazing, and I am a creative, resilient and progressive entrepreneur & individual!  Thank you Ross Nichols.”  (Noelle Balfour, Interior Stylist and Designer)

My experience thus far suggests that this approach works best with business owners who have high empathy and creativity, and of course those who are more intuitive.  These traits are more likely to be found among business owners in the helping professions, such as coaches, counsellors and therapists, and in the creative professions such as designers and artists. That said, these qualities can be found in any sector.

Opportunities

The Intuitive Business Plan works well in a 1 to 1 coaching and mentoring relationship.  It could also work well in a group coaching and mentoring setting.  It’s not a ‘quick fix’: I’ve found it works well over 6-10 sessions.  It can be delivered in person or via Skype and it could also be run as a series of webinars.

If you would like to know more about the Intuitive Business Plan and the Intuitive Marketing Plan, please get in touch.

November 9th 2017

Diary of a Business Accelerator: 6 of 6

Session #6 was all about the sales process.  We spent some quality time checking that our core offering was crystal clear: what do we sell (products, services, packages) and at what prices.  Every time I do this exercise I come up with a new insight into what exactly I’m selling and how I could package it up and price it.  We also looked again at our target customers and then our ‘marketing collateral’ – all the different assets, methods and channels we use for marketing.  Not for the first time, Andrew recommended the Prince’s Trust business plan template: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/tools-resources/business-tools/business-plans  We also looked at how we acquire our clients and customers and what we could do differently to acquire our ideal customers, which I always find to be a useful exercise.

Andrew produced another rabbit out of the TH 01 hat with our final session #7 on ‘your numbers’.  I’ve done accounts as part of an MBA but never have I understood accounting as clearly as Andrew explained it.  He shared some simple but very powerful revenue tracking methods using rolling averages to help us understand what is going on with our numbers.  Andrew’s one page model showing how money flows through a business, by linking the Balance Sheet with the Income Statement (P&L) and the Cash Flow Statement, is a world class insight for analysing any business.  The accountants in the room were in raptures!  Andrew’s son Daniel (of Key Person of Influence fame) rounded off the programme with his presentation that ‘growth sucks!’ Actually he called it, ‘Rules for Fun’ but it’s ‘growth sucks’ that stuck in my mind: growth sucks cash, energy, weekends and so on.  Daniel described the hope that business can be fun as a ‘fantasy’, however, and here is the paradox, if we accept this then it can be fun!  Hence his strapline, ‘Be brave, have fun, make a Dent.’

Another feature of the programme was the FB group, which many of us used and are still using for mutual support, asking for help and sharing our learning and insights.  One particular gem (I think it was Ash Taylor but please forgive me if someone else should be given the credit!) was to mention the book, ‘Profit First’ by Mike Michalowicz.  I bought the book and it was a no brainer – I implemented profit first accounting and it’s no exaggeration to say it has transformed how I feel about my business – and how much money I make from my business.  As the book subtitle says, it is, ‘A Simple System to Transform any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine’.  Outside of the great content from TH 01, this is my top tip for all business owners and self-employed professionals.  I recommend the ‘Profit First’ approach to all my business clients and they are loving it!

I’ve gained a lot from Threshold Accelerator.  It forced me to address my own issues, the very things that have been holding me back, and also helped me to work through them by holding me to account and by providing me with support when I needed it – all I had to do was ask.  Every business owner has to work through this stuff for themselves – Threshold Accelerator has been more effective at helping me do this than other business training I’ve undertaken.  I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence or a direct consequence of TH 01 however I’ve doubled the number of active clients I have as well as my monthly revenues.  Without TH 01, I would not have achieved the alignment I now have with my business: I’m now leading with my career and life coaching brand rather than my business mentoring and consulting brand and I’ve put myself out there to my target market in a way I’ve never done before.  This is bringing in new clients and it feels right.  I’m now recommending Threshold Accelerator to others in my network – ‘nuff said!

I’d be pleased to connect with other ‘Thresholders’ on Linkedin, FB, Twitter and so on to continue this learning journey J

Namaste

Ross

ROSS NICHOLS

Business mentor, consultant and coach

July 21st 2017

Diary of a Business Accelerator: 5 of 6

Session #5 was a bonus session with Nic Rixon, which was refreshingly different!  There were lots of nuggets to take from this day, such as, ‘when planning your business, halve your revenues, double your costs and if it still works, do it!’  He intrigued me with his reference to, ‘push, pull or horse whispering.’  From memory (and I may have got this wrong) this was about the psychology of how to sell.  Ric shared the ‘blue-red-black’ method for building a business by understanding how much time we spend on each colour: blue = revenue generating; red = back office; black = business development.  If your business is struggling, it’s likely that you have an imbalance between these activities.  His ‘SWSWSWNO’ was a great little reminder that we can’t please everyone so don’t waste time chasing the money because, ‘Some Will, Some Won’t, So What?  Next One!’  I liked Nic’s insights that we need to be clear on what we want from our business so that we design a business that supports us, rather than designing a business that we have to support.  This was an advanced business session with a lot to take in and it would be good to be able to re-visit this in say a year’s time.

July 21st 2017

Free Support for Ex-Military Social Enterprise in Hampshire

Action Hampshire are offering a great package of FREE support to ex-military people (and other target groups) to help start up social enterprise businesses.

There are times in our lives when a regular 9 to 5 or part time job contract do not suit the hours we have available.  But being at home doesn’t mean we lose the creative, innovative side of our nature, in fact we can find that we are at our most inventive when trying to juggle the many and varied demands of a busy lifestyle!  If you aren’t working at the moment but need an outlet for your entrepreneurial ideas, a new project from local charity Action Hampshire may be for you.  If you have ever had an idea that would benefit your community or the environment, or if you have dreamt of making a difference through your very own business, Action Hampshire can help you explore what you need to think about to set up your own enterprise

The Inspiring Enterprise project is offering free support and mentoring to help you develop the ideas, confidence and skills you need to be your own boss and create a social enterprise. A social enterprise is a business that reinvests its profits for a social or an environmental cause; national organisations like the Big Issue or Divine Chocolate are great examples but most are smaller enterprises that benefit a local community; for example Donna offers Fabric sculpting workshops to aid mental well-being; Pauline offers table top gardening for the elderly in care homes; Sasha runs hip hop dance workshops for teenagers; Jen promotes her sustainable lifestyle to inspire others; Rachael offers support to families affected by autism; David offers education and networks for new dads; Lucy offers woodland management learning and Debbie runs a community kitchen.  The possibilities are many and varied.

Inspiring Enterprise is funded by the Big Lottery and the ESF and allows us to offer a range of support and advice to help you develop your idea. The project is made up of workshops that are completely flexible and can be easily fitted around an already busy lifestyle. You will learn about everything from marketing to legal structures to finances, and you could also be matched with a business mentor to support you further. We can offer advice on specific issues and introduce you to a network of like-minded people.  

Action Hampshire is the home of the School for Social Entrepreneurs Hampshire and has lots of experience supporting new, aspiring and fully fledged social entrepreneurs to develop and deliver sustainable businesses to suit their needs and lifestyles. If you have an entrepreneurial mind-set or just a great idea that you think could help your community, contact them at: www.actionhampshire.org  Twitter: @ActionHants

June 28th 2017

Diary of a Business Accelerator: 4 of 6

I posted installment 3 of 6 on 23 January 2017 in which I talked about drafting my brochure, and working through my doubts about my niche.  

Session #4 was tough for me. It was an uncomfortable day again, I found myself behind the curve, constantly distracted by working on one part when Andrew moved on to a new part.  As the day wore on I got into it, I felt a strong sense of connection with the rest of the cohort, I made some more connections and looked forward to sharing some Skype calls.  At the end of session #4, I publicly thanked Andrew, ‘…for making me uncomfortable again – this is what I need to cut through whatever is holding me back so thank you!’

I re-wrote my brochure on the way home and began to feel more positive.  I realised I needed to book a 1:1 with Andrew and gave myself a short list of stuff I really needed to get on with.  I decided I also needed a coaching session to find out what was holding me back: why was I not implementing all this great stuff?  That said, I was feeling positive and had an action plan to kick start me.  I hoped that I would soon be able to articulate my value with clarity – that’s what I wanted from my 1:1 with Andrew.  I voice recorded my brochure and listened to it and it sounded ok.

I had my 1:1 with Andrew. He asked me to choose between my 2 brands: Business Mentoring Services Ltd and Transition Transformers®- I chose Transition Transformers®.  I was conflicted at the time between my head (business mentoring and consulting) and my heart (career and life coaching) and thought that maybe I’d chosen the wrong one.  He then proceeded to give me a personal masterclass on how to articulate my value and think about ways I could sell my services. I was still confused about how to reconcile business mentoring with career and life coaching: I was flip flopping between them so I decided to take that issue to my next coaching session – hopefully I would finally get clear on which brand to lead with.  The day after session #4, which included some excellent instruction on how to make videos, I made my first video using my PC and webcam. I posted my video on the FB group, which felt like a minor triumph!

Working with my coach, and doing some values work on my own, I was gradually working through my conflict over where my true path lay: business mentoring and consulting, or career and life coaching.  One sunny afternoon I was sitting outside my local Waitrose with a coffee pondering this dilemma.  Drawing on the values work and the coaching sessions I’d had, I asked myself what was holding me back?  The answer I got was that I was too much in ‘doing’ mode so what if I got into ‘being’ mode?  Almost instantly I let go of the attachment to my focus on the business consulting side and the next 2 hours flew by in a blur of creativity.  As if by magic, I drafted a brochure for a coaching programme I called, ‘Love Your Job, Love Your Life’, targeted at professional services firms in the Salisbury area.  The next day, while I was a volunteer on the Start-Up Britain bus tour in Salisbury, I bumped into the person I’d already decided I needed to ask for advice on who to help me with marketing this programme.  One hour later that very marketing person appeared in front of me - I’m not making this up, it really happened like this!  One week later we had agreed an outline marketing plan and submitted the first draft of the new brochure to the printers.  This felt light, free, easy and natural.  It felt as if it was really going to happen, which was a great feeling.

My marketer arranged a seminar for my coaching programme, ‘Love Your Job, Love Your Life’ and filled the room with my target market.  I didn’t sell any places on the programme and that was ok because I wasn’t attached to any outcome and I knew I simply needed to put myself out there and see what came back, ‘sharpening my business on the stone of the market place.’  I’m gradually picking up individual clients from this (I’m up to 4 so far), sometimes through unexpected indirect ways, and this feels like success.  I feel I’ve positioned myself with my target market as the go-to guy for holistic coaching: using emotional intelligence and mindfulness, and working with values, energy, vitality and spirit.  I’ve even developed a new off-the-cuff elevator pitch, ‘I’m an old soldier and a rookie spiritual warrior!’  Old soldier because I served 26 years in the Army as a combat engineer, and rookie spiritual warrior because I aspire to act with wisdom and compassion in all situations – I don’t always manage it but when I’m at my best I do and that’s when the magic happens.  

I’ll post instalment 5 of 6 next month.

February 13th 2017
<p>Diary of a Business Accelerator 3 of 6</p><p>I posted installment 2 of 6 of this Diary on 18 December 2016.  Here is the third
installment.</p><p>In my previous post, I was struggling to find my niche while identifying that I had a ‘Creator’ profile.
















The
more I thought about it, the more the ‘Creator’ profile made sense.  I realised my value is in innovation,
creation, strategy, ‘head in the clouds’ thinking, and my leverage is through
inter-personal connections.  As I walked
towards the Bloomsbury Hotel ready for session #3, I felt I’d had a wake-up
call, I’d made a bit of a breakthrough and I was feeling excited about my
business.  Things felt easier: I felt
good and I felt I was on the right path. 
I’d been resisting the thing that was in front of my nose - business
consulting – and I now knew that my natural wealth profile was Creator.  I wanted to tap into that energy and see
where session #3 took me – I was ready to get going! </p><p>During session #3 I enjoyed practising being a Creator, helping others during the breaks and buddying up with others as an
accountability partner.  I shared with
Andrew that I had a Creator profile and he challenged me, ‘Go and create some
clients!’  How could I possibly argue
with that?  The focus of session #3 was
on creating our brochures and getting a draft onto the FB page for feedback
from the cohort.  I drafted my brochure,
shared it with the cohort and got some constructive helpful feedback.  I still had doubts about being too niche and
was still thinking this through but things were becoming clearer.  I re-visited my own transition coaching
process, titled,  ‘6 Steps to Finding a
Successful New Future ’<a href="http://www.transitiontransformers.co.uk">www.transitiontransformers.co.uk</a>
and I realised I just needed to keep going, trust the process and be open to
how my goals might manifest and all would be well.  I started saying the mantra of giving and
receiving.</p><p>I got into the habit of listening to my voice recordings
from each session on the train to the next session – I realised there was so
much of value in this programme that I needed to keep re-visiting my
learning.  </p><p>I’ll post the 4th installment of this Diary next month after the 4th session of Threshold Accelerator TH02.</p><p>





2�)S</p>

Diary of a Business Accelerator 3 of 6

I posted installment 2 of 6 of this Diary on 18 December 2016.  Here is the third installment.

In my previous post, I was struggling to find my niche while identifying that I had a ‘Creator’ profile. The more I thought about it, the more the ‘Creator’ profile made sense.  I realised my value is in innovation, creation, strategy, ‘head in the clouds’ thinking, and my leverage is through inter-personal connections.  As I walked towards the Bloomsbury Hotel ready for session #3, I felt I’d had a wake-up call, I’d made a bit of a breakthrough and I was feeling excited about my business.  Things felt easier: I felt good and I felt I was on the right path. I’d been resisting the thing that was in front of my nose - business consulting – and I now knew that my natural wealth profile was Creator.  I wanted to tap into that energy and see where session #3 took me – I was ready to get going! 

During session #3 I enjoyed practising being a Creator, helping others during the breaks and buddying up with others as an accountability partner.  I shared with Andrew that I had a Creator profile and he challenged me, ‘Go and create some clients!’  How could I possibly argue with that?  The focus of session #3 was on creating our brochures and getting a draft onto the FB page for feedback from the cohort.  I drafted my brochure, shared it with the cohort and got some constructive helpful feedback.  I still had doubts about being too niche and was still thinking this through but things were becoming clearer.  I re-visited my own transition coaching process, titled,  ‘6 Steps to Finding a Successful New Future ’www.transitiontransformers.co.uk and I realised I just needed to keep going, trust the process and be open to how my goals might manifest and all would be well.  I started saying the mantra of giving and receiving.

I got into the habit of listening to my voice recordings from each session on the train to the next session – I realised there was so much of value in this programme that I needed to keep re-visiting my learning.  

I’ll post the 4th installment of this Diary next month after the 4th session of Threshold Accelerator TH02.

2�)S

January 22nd 2017

Wellbeing For You

Are you dissatisfied with your life, your career or your health?  Do you want more out of life or simply feel that something isn’t quite right?  If you answered ‘yes’, you could improve your wellbeing by taking part in this series of 3 workshops.

 The World Health Organisation’s description of health is,

 “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease.”

 The integrated approach to wellness recognises 6 dimensions of wellness:

·      Physical

·      Psychological

·      Social

·      Environmental

·      Occupational

·      Spiritual

These dimensions are inter-related: a problem in one dimension will affect other dimensions of our wellness.  The integrated approach enables us to optimise our wellness.

These workshops are progressive and participants will get the most out of them by attending all 3 however they are also modular - each workshop is self-contained to provide flexibility in attendance:

·      Workshop 1 – Integrated Wellness.  This workshop will cover: mapping our wellbeing over time; identifying what affects our wellbeing; using the integrated wellness model; mindfulness meditation 1; and Personal Wellbeing Plan Part 1.

·      Workshop 2 – Emotional Intelligence.  This workshop will cover: introduction to emotional intelligence; emotional intelligence for wellbeing exercises; mindfulness meditation 2; and Personal Wellbeing Plan Part 2.

·      Workshop 3 – Spiritual Intelligence.  This workshop will cover: introduction to spiritual intelligence; spiritual intelligence for wellbeing exercises; mindfulness meditation 3; and Personal Wellbeing Plan Part 3.

Participants will come away from each workshop with their own Personal Wellbeing Plan to help them combine dimensions of wellness into a quality way of living.  

al`L>��RN https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellbeing-for-you-tickets-30886925626

January 9th 2017

Diary of a Business Accelerator 2 of 6

This is the second installment of my experience of participating in a business accelerator programme.

At the end of session #2 (of TH 01) I felt very conflicted.  Andrew (our Trainer) asked if anyone was struggling to find their niche.  I raised my hand and Andrew had me squirming in the ‘hot seat’ when he asked me why I continued to work with start-ups, particularly self-employed coaches.  My answer was, ‘because they show up.’  He then asked me, ‘What are you here to do?’  My answer was, ‘That’s such an uncomfortable question that I know it’s the right question.’  When he asked me how much would I be willing to pay to clarify that, I answered quick as a flash, ‘£3,000 – I’ve already paid you,’ which drew a warm round of applause and a good-natured laugh.   People came up to me afterwards and told me how much they admired me for putting myself through the hot seat process – it took courage but I knew I needed to be really challenged to think differently about my business and be willing to be uncomfortable if I was ever going to grow my business.  I let my discomfort soak for a couple of weeks as I was fully committed to events for International Coaching Week in Salisbury the following week.  When I had some quiet time, I asked myself, ‘what exercises would I give my clients to do if they were in my situation?’  So I did the ‘Wheel of Life’ goal setting exercise to come up with some personal goals and then I used a worksheet I designed for my clients on how to set a naturally compelling goal.  That threw up some useful insights and I felt good about it so I typed it up and that became the start of an intuitive business plan rather than a template business plan.  I let that soak for a while then decided to take it further and really ask myself that uncomfortable question around my niche. I did some research around this and realised I’d been resisting business consulting.  I leaped into creating a brochure and packages with great energy and enthusiasm.  I developed my intuitive business plan and it started to take on an energy and life of its own.  New ideas were coming up all the time, for marketing, joint ventures and so on.  I refreshed my website www.businessmentoringservices.co.uk to list all my services and I felt excited about my business for the first time in a long time – things were really beginning to shift for me!

I also felt it was time to re-visit the fundamental questions I ask my clients: who am I, where am I going and how do I get there?  It felt like the right time for me to take the Wealth Dynamics on-line assessment and to my astonishment I discovered I had a Creator profile – I’d previously thought I was a Supporter.  The more I thought about it, the more this made sense.  I realised my value is in innovation, creation, strategy, ‘head in the clouds’ thinking, and my leverage is through inter-personal connections. As I walked towards the Bloomsbury Hotel ready for session #3, I felt I’d had a wake-up call, I’d made a bit of a breakthrough and I was feeling excited about my business.  Things felt easier: I felt good and I felt I was on the right path.  I’d been resisting the thing that was in front of my nose - business consulting – and I now knew that my natural wealth profile was Creator.  I wanted to tap into that energy and see where session #3 took me – I was ready to get going!

I’ll post the third instalment of this Diary of a Thresholder after the third session of TH02.

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December 18th 2016

Profit First Accounting

I had the pleasure of presenting the simple but oh so effective ‘Profit First’ accounting system (from the book of the same title) at a coaching book club yesterday.  For those who missed it, here are the key points:

1.  Few of us do a cash flow or profit forecast and so on.  Instead, we use ‘bank balance accounting’: we check our business bank balance almost daily and we feel better or worse depending on how much is in it! 

2.  Revenue less Costs = Profit.  It’s also true that Revenue less Profit = Costs.  In other words, take your PROFIT FIRST, then use whatever is left to run the business.

3.  The way to take your profit first is to set TAPs: TARGET ALLOCATION PERCENTAGES.  The recommended TAPs for small businesses to work towards are:

- Profit: 5%

- Tax: 15%

- Owners Pay: 50%

- Costs: 30%

Start with TAPs you can manage, e.g. 2.5% Profit, 15% Tax, and 25% Pay, leaving 57.5% in the business bank account.  Review and increase TAPs quarterly.

4.  Set up new bank accounts for Profit and Tax.  You can have your Owners Pay paid directly to your personal bank account.

5.  Twice a month, say 10th and 25th of each month, or the nearest available working day, make your allocations from your business bank account in accordance with your TAPs.  Also pay your bills and invoices.  By establishing this twice-a-month rhythm, you will soon have a really good idea of your revenues and your costs. 

6.  Profit First accounting helps you to focus on and drive down costs.  It also changes how your feel about your business: as the book sub title says, it ‘transforms your business from a cash-hungry monster to a money-making machine’!  You will start to enjoy your twice a month allocations and take delight in working out how to cut costs and pay your self more :-).  

You can read more about it on the author’s website:  http://www.mikemichalowicz.com/

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December 7th 2016
<p>How remiss of me not to post this photo - the first ever cohort completing Threshold Accelerator 01 in October 2016.  It’s been great to share this journey with you guys and this is just the start.  Go well and keep in touch.</p>

How remiss of me not to post this photo - the first ever cohort completing Threshold Accelerator 01 in October 2016.  It’s been great to share this journey with you guys and this is just the start.  Go well and keep in touch.

November 25th 2016