Biz Mentor's Blog

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: 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

Diary of a Business Accelerator: 1 of 6

In early 2016, I was dissatisfied with my business.  I wanted to ‘make the boat go faster’, have more clients, grow my revenues and make progress towards my goals.  Business seemed to have flat-lined and I needed to do something to kick start growth. I’d done lots of business training previously so I was wary of signing up for another programme – I knew I was the problem so it was as much about my attitude and motivation as a lack of knowledge. After a conversation with Tom at Dent (another Australian – why do we Brits need Australians to teach us about business?), I decided to take the plunge and started the very first Threshold Accelerator programme in April 2016.

The first session was exhilarating.  Andrew Priestley clearly knew his stuff, he was authentic, informative, even entertaining but also challenging.  After lunch we were treated to a truly inspiring talk by Masami Sato, a Japanese woman entrepreneur and author of ‘Giving Business’, otherwise known as ‘Buy One Give One’ or ‘B1G1’.  This warmed my heart and demonstrated to me that Threshold Accelerator is about more than making money, it’s about being true to oneself and making a difference in the world.  I liked that Andrew was big on the importance of gratitude and urged us all to go back and thank the mentors who’d helped us on our life and business journeys – this really resonated with me.  During Q&A, Andrew said to one of our cohort, ‘I think you are being quite selfish.’ This startled me but I came to understand his meaning: we all have talents that can make a difference and by playing small, we are denying those talents to the world.  As Andrew put it, we are all, ‘…sitting on a mountain of value’ and, ‘everything that comes out of your gob is gold.’

Andrew told us that the key question is ‘Why am I doing this?’  This is fundamental in the era of relational marketing so we all need to tell our business story to share and demonstrate our ‘why’. We also need to ask ourselves, ‘why will my target market buy from me, and how will I measure success?’  I liked Andrew’s lead qualifying process, which seemed more powerful than the traditional way: do I like my client?  Can I deliver great results for my client?  Can they afford me? Can they afford to implement my recommendations?

We also had an entertaining and informative presentation by Richard Woods, runner up in the previous series of The Apprentice.  Richard shared his first business experience of buying gifts and curios abroad to sell in UK, in particular a Roman bust he called Maximus: after months of trying to sell Maximus to retailers, he realised he could never make money from it. This left me wondering if I was in effect trying to sell Maximus in my business – if I was good at what I did, why weren’t more people hiring me as a business mentor, career and life coach? I also realised that there is much more scope for me to use digital marketing.

I came away uplifted and determined that I would not squander this opportunity to have the business success I wanted while being my authentic self, recognising my talents and my value, and walking my true path.  As Andrew advised, I voice recorded my feedback on that first training day. Here is some of what I said, ‘The target is now clearly and very firmly £83K turnover [the VAT threshold].  It’s given me confidence that this is the right programme and the right trainer for me.’

There was so much to think about from this first session.  It was an exciting first day, I liked the people on my table and in the room. I felt more confident, motivated and ambitious afterwards – aiming way beyond what I was previously aiming for. I felt committed to following through with the programme.  The next day I started carrying extra cash around with me as Andrew suggested, not the full amount of my day rate – that took me a week or so to build up – and it did give me more energy.  After a couple of months, I replaced the cash with a cheque for the same amount that I wrote to myself, signed and dated 31 December 2016.  I’m really curious to learn whether I earn that amount from my business.  If you’d like to find out what happens, email me and I’ll let you know in the New Year: info@businessmentoringservices.co.uk

For homework I began the ‘100 problem analysis’ in order to really understand my clients and their problems so that I could identify their top 3 problems, my solutions to those problems, and then develop marketing messages on these.  As Andrew said, ‘sharpen your business on the stone of the market place.’

In my next post (2 of 6) in a few weeks time, I’ll share reflections on session #2.

November 24th 2016

IP Health Check; IP Strategy Review

Announcing the launch of our new IP products: IP Health Check; IP Strategy Review.

IP HEALTH CHECK

Your Intellectual Property (IP) is valuable and in this information age, your IP can be a critical asset for your business.  Your IP can be stolen without you knowing and in the extreme this can lead to your business being wound up.  You can also unintentionally share IP, which cannot then be protected because it is in the public domain.  Most businesses have far more IP than they realise and they are often unaware that they don’t necessarily own it themselves.  You do therefore need to protect your IP as you would any other valuable asset.  My IP Health Check will help you to reduce the IP-related risks to your business and give you peace of mind that your IP is appropriately protected.  Most of the information I need can be gathered during an initial conversation between us and from your website and other publicly available information such as brochures of your products and services. 

 IP STRATEGY REVIEW

While my IP Health Check meets your immediate need to manage IP-related risks to your business now, you may need an IP Strategy Review to manage IP-related risks to your business in the future.   As your business scales up, the need to protect your IP from competitors increases.  As your business develops the range of products and services it sells, and as it moves up the value chain, your IP Strategy becomes ever more central to your business strategy.  An IP Strategy Review will help you to reduce the IP-related risks your business faces in the future; and it will help you to integrate your IP Strategy with your business strategy and so maximise future revenues from your IP.  To conduct an IP Strategy Review I will first need to conduct an IP Health Check and then gain a good understanding of your plans to develop your business.  Key information will include new products and services, new markets and whether in UK, Europe or other countries outside Europe.

February 2nd 2016

Mental Health Awareness Day

I’d like to share this podcast from the CIPD in support of Mental Health Awareness Day on 10 October 2015.  The key message is: seek help early if you are struggling with stress, decision making or a gloomy outlook - symptoms to which high achievers are prone.  Contact me if you’d like to be coached on integrated wellness, mindfulness or emotional intelligence to improve your well-being and personal resilience.

CIPD PODCAST
CIPD research shows that over two-fifths of organisations have reported an increase in mental health problems in the last 12 months – but rather than simply taking measures to deal with these problems there is growing evidence that it is in employers’ best interest to promote and support good mental health in their workforce.

So how can employers work to tackle the root causes of mental health problems and provide measures to foster good mental health in their organisation? In this podcast we hear from John Binns, a well-being and personal resilience advisor, about his personal experience of poor mental health and how he now uses this experience to advise organisations on how best to support employees who may be suffering from poor mental health, including the importance of carefully considering messaging around initiatives. We also speak toEmma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, about the importance of proactive communication to make mental health conversations normal and remove the stigma around mental health. Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk and former Minister of State at the Department of Health, also gives insight into the work he did as minister to promote mental health support and gives his opinion on the economic and social case for why employers should make this a priority.

What steps are you taking to support good mental health in your organisation? Do you feel that there is more you could be doing? Join in the discussion on Twitter @CIPD using the hashtag #cipdpodcasts.

October 7th 2015

Authentic Leadership – What is it and how can we Lead Authentically?

If you are a leader, do you sometimes feel like an imposter?  If you are a business owner, do you sometimes feel incongruent, that you are not always fully aligned with your business?  If you answered ‘yes’ you are not alone - many leaders experience these doubts so how can we be more authentic as leaders?

There are hundreds of books on leadership but leadership is difficult to define and describe: it’s intangible yet we all know when we are being well led - and we also know when we are being badly led.  Try this short exercise: write down some qualities of a good leader then think of someone well known who has these qualities.  

Chances are you end up with say Bob Geldof and Father Christmas so how far does this approach get us?  

The British Army’s Officer Training School is the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, whose motto is serve to lead.  Is leadership about acting the part?  Is it about character?  Is it about skills?  I recall reading the Leadership Aide-Memoire at Sandhurst as an officer cadet there many years ago and I remember clearly the statement that, ‘Ultimately, leadership is just plain you’.  If leadership is ‘just plain you’, who are you?  Do you know, understand and accept yourself?  The Army’s recent experiences on operations have thrown up some useful insights into leadership in battle and the lessons this has for business.  Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Hill was commanding an infantry company in Afghanistan in 2009 when he was ambushed from 3 sides and suffered life changing injuries.  He shared his reflections with a group of business owners recently,

“To lead successfully….you need to make people believe you, to make them feel that they matter, to make them feel valued.  In a world full of process and deadlines we tend to forget about people.  In war this costs lives.  In the workplace, this costs engagement and performance.  To lead you need to be trusted, show compassion and have courage.”  How can we earn trust?  Can we learn how to be compassionate and courageous?  Can we fake them?  I don’t believe we can fake them yet I do believe everyone can learn to be more compassionate and courageous and so become more authentic and earn trust.

Authentic leadership matters because every business journey is a personal journey.  When you are more congruent with yourself and more aligned with your business, you will go further and faster and be more successful.  Try another short exercise: write down quickly a few key words to describe who you are.  

Chances are, you have alighted on aspects of your history, your roles and your values and beliefs but are we more than the sum of these?  Robert Dilts’s ‘Logical Levels’ model suggests that we are.  In this model, the visible aspects are: our environment (where we are, who we are with) and our behaviours (what we say and do).  Most corporate coaching works with these visible levels in a transactional way.  The hidden levels are our capabilities and skills, values and beliefs, identity and purpose.  Trying to do anything that conflicts with these doesn’t feel right - we are mis-aligned and will fail.  When we are aligned with our values and beliefs, identity and purpose, we are congruent and we can move mountains.  These are the levels we work on when coaching for transformational change.  

I had a 26 year career as a Royal Engineer in the Army.  When I left in 2008, I handed in my uniform and with it my sense of identity - being a soldier is all I had ever wanted to do so who was I now?  This was the start of a journey of learning, healing and self-discovery which continues.  I’m now comfortable with my values and beliefs, I accept myself as I am and I’m no longer trying to be anyone else.  I have a clear sense of my identity and a purpose for my life.  Ironically I’m a more authentic leader now than I was in the Army.  My top tips for authentic leadership are:

1.  Get to know and understand yourself

2.  Be congruent with who you are

3.  Align yourself and your business

If you can be more authentic, you will be a better leader and you will go further and faster on your business and leadership journey - good luck!

If you’d like to learn more about authentic leadership, I’ll be speaking on this at a seminar soon - here is the link: The Innovative Leadership Mind-Set 

For more on leadership coaching, visit my website: www.transitiontransformers.co.uk

© Ross Nichols and Transition Transformers® 2015

September 29th 2015