GET THE EDGE
Don't Be a Lone Ranger: Coaching Tips for the Entrepreneurial Client
by Lyn T. Christian
Most entrepreneurs could be categorized as rugged individualists. We wanted to be in charge of our own destinies. We wanted to be our own bosses and call the shots. Now that we do, being alone feels like our normal modus operandi. We are so in charge, and willing to be so in charge, that we have forgotten, or never learned, that we don't have to work alone. To successfully work with the entrepreneurial breed, coaches must remind their Lone Rangers to find sidekicks, mentors, and success teams—people with whom to dialogue about specific fears and concerns, to help with generating and exploring ideas, and to give advice. Linking our clients with excellent support is imperative. Here is how one scenario in my practice recently played out:
Candice is an accountant by trade and an entrepreneur by choice. She owns several small businesses, including a hair salon. Since she purchased the salon three years ago, it has done relatively well. The salon is a destination location tucked inside a large, inner-city mall. Unfortunately, the mall is dying. As the walk-in numbers drop, so does the morale of the stylists, who anticipate the potential plunge in personal earnings. Caught between the constant push to keep the stylists in a positive emotional state and the pull of the growing fears and concerns of the owner, the salon manager is burning out. Much to our surprise, the profits and growth of the salon seem healthy.
Having coached her through the acquisition process, Candice came to me again when she was confused and afraid. The panic was growing—she didn't know what to do. Relocate? Initiate a stronger marketing push? Hire a new manager? She didn't want to lose a business that was just beginning to show signs of offering her a good profit margin. At the same time, she feared losing her confidence along with her key stylist.
While I jumped in to do my part as a coach, I could also see that Candice was trying to make the sorts of decisions that should never be made in a vacuum. I linked her with a professional mentor—another owner of three successful salons who was willing to take her under his wing and provide answers to vital questions. Through a joint series of consulting/coaching sessions, shadow visits to the salon, and a session or two with the manager and key stylists, our combined support afforded her a safety net.
When Candice asked for help, she got it—including the valuable answers she needed. Her fear of losing her salon business diminished daily, and her confidence in her own ability to keep the business growing increased.
Instead of allowing our clients to worry in silence and shiver in a corner, it is crucial that we help them to find the best experts available to provide assistance. We should ensure that our clients settle for nothing less than the most qualified, legitimate aid they can get. Give your entrepreneurial clients the following guidelines to help them perceive when asking for assistance is imperative.
Coaching Suggestions: When to Ask for Help
Ask for help when:
- Your inner dialogue indicates that you are struggling in some area of your work. When you struggle, this is a time to specifically ask for support and encouragement.
- You discover that you are in need of specific information. Ask for it!
- You feel outnumbered. That is the time to call for a helping hand (or a posse!).
- You're feeling like you need someone to cheer for you. Call the best fans you can find and request an acknowledgment or two.
- You feel too ashamed to ask for help. That is the very time to pick up the phone and ask someone to walk you through your concerns.
Remember to assure your clients that there is a huge difference between asking someone to rescue us, and asking someone in a direct manner for the help we sincerely need. It is self-defeating NOT to ask for help. Winning entrepreneurs ask loudly and clearly enough to be heard. When we persist with earnest intent, our request will eventually be directed to the right source. Don't ever give up. Get help!
Lyn T. Christian, PMP, MCC, CFCC, is the owner of SoulSalt Inc. She coaches the free agents who live and earn by pursuing what inspires them. Lyn is both an accomplished trainer and facilitator and an inspiring speaker. Read more about Lyn in the WABC Coach Directory. Lyn can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.