Think Bigger About Being a Business Coach

Posted by WABC

Think Bigger About Being a Business Coach
by Michael Port

Many proclaim that the coaching industry is one of the world's fastest growing professions—particularly sources who stand to profit from the growth of the industry. And certainly, that's a fair statement—if it's true. But regardless, what really matters is how you, as a business coach, see what's possible for you and the individuals and organizations that you serve.

Are you creating opportunities that many only dream of? Or is the business coaching profession just another in a series of ideas you've entertained regarding possible career choices? Are you building your coaching business based primarily on the way you have heard 'it's done'?

You may have just finished your training. You may have three clients and have been in business for as many years. You may have more clients than you can handle. No matter.

Regardless of what category you fall into, the big question is this: How big are you really thinking about business coaching?

Maybe you are worried about the difficult course ahead. After all, the learning curve can be daunting, and the great distance you must cover is hard to contemplate. You might feel like you're about to embark on a cross-country marathon. The business climate can be unpredictable. Conditions may end up far from the ideal. Doubts and worries may be overwhelming.

Have you ever heard of 'No Man's Land'? No Man's Land is a state of athletic training that does not actually increase physical fitness. If athletes are in No Man's Land, they feel as though they are working out—they are sweating, they are breathing more heavily, their heart rate is up, and their bodies may feel tired after their workout. But this place is neither easy enough to get the benefits of a recovery workout, nor difficult enough to reap the benefits of anaerobic threshold training. It's actually rather comfortable. In athletic training, when athletes spend most of their time in No Man's Land, that's exactly where they stay.

Might you be in 'Business Coaching No Man's Land'? In this sort of 'psychological' No Man's Land, you feel as though you are working hard, but you're not necessarily getting the results that you want.

If so, it's time to move out of 'No Man's Land' and into 'Big Thinking Land' and get comfortable with discomfort—the key to doing big things in business and in life.

Regardless of what the business of coaching means to you, you must become comfortable with discomfort if you want to play a bigger game. As you allow yourself to experience discomfort, you become more comfortable, then move on to bigger and bigger things, once again allowing yourself to be comfortable with the discomfort each new challenge presents.

You already know that the size of your thoughts influences your actions. This you know. Small thoughts can get in the way and limit you. Big thoughts can push you to accomplish things that once seemed just out of reach, or perhaps even seemed impossible.

I invite you to redefine your approach to being a business coach in general and to building your coaching practice in particular. There is no standard model. It's up to you to create one for yourself. Imagine that there is no industry, that there is no standard way of delivering your services. As my friend and colleague Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth, says, "Imagine a blank piece of paper and a beginner's mind."

Right now, write down your expectations for your coaching business. What past experiences have influenced your expectations? The stories you tell yourself about your past, your present, and your future either keep you thinking small or get you playing big.

Reset your past experiences and tell new, bigger stories; redefine your present offerings—what do you have to offer to your community? Finally, raise your expectations about what you can accomplish in the future. When you take these steps, you will think and act bigger about who you are, what you offer the world, and what sort of business coaching practice you want to build. You will give yourself the opportunity for more self-expression through your work. Thinking bigger is personal, is different for each of us, and draws on our unique individual talents. You will do bigger things if you view your coaching practice as a way to provide the most service to others—and as a means of expressing your own extraordinary gifts and contributions.

So, are you thinking as big as you can about being a business coach?

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Michael Port, President of Michael Port & Associates, has been dubbed a 'marketing guru' by the Wall Street Journal. He has provided coaching, training, consulting and inspiration for over 20,000 small business owners, and is the author of the national bestseller Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling (Wiley, 2006). Michael can be reached by email at questions@michaelport.com.

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Professional Selling: Who’s Coaching the Coach? By Barry Trailer

Posted by Barry Trailer

I'm certain for this readership that there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching. I think it's an almost equally safe bet that each of you has at least an informal coaching relationship, perhaps a mentor who holds you accountable, providing you with feedback and helping to further your growth and development.

But I do have a suspicion that you and your coach may be overlooking one critical area of your and your business' development: Sales.

In his groundbreaking work on mastery, George Leonard, details five keys to pursuing/attaining mastery: coaching, practice, surrender, attitude and excitement. I'll likely cover others of these in future articles but for now, we'll stick with the first key: get a coach.

There are four ways to improve performance: 1) having a coach; 2) playing with knowledgeable friends and peers; 3) practicing and 4) reading books/watching videos. And as each of you know, the first is miles ahead of the others in improving an individual's performance.

However, the coaching I'm speaking of with respect to sales is somewhat different than what most performance coaches focus upon. Yes, there can be a 360 review, but this should be objectively reviewing lead sources and their respective success (hit) rates; percentage of calls leading to a first meeting/presentation; percentage of proposals leading to a close; client satisfaction ratings, feedback and referrals. These are just a few of the key metrics your coach should be analyzing with you to see "how it's going."

In the first articles in this series I detailed the Perfect Prospect Profile and discussed how defining this and holding each new prospect up to it will help you attract and gauge new prospects. The PPP can include both demographic (e.g., industry vertical, employee size, geographic location) and psychographic (e.g., learning organization, win/win culture, appreciative) components. The suggestion is that you create a prospect hit-list and gather PPP information about the top ten or so names on your list.

Even if you don't have your prospect list created yet, reviewing the PPP criteria with your coach can be a valuable exercise. You can apply it to your current clients to determine opportunities for improved communication or early warning signs that may crop up with new clients as you begin to engage with them. And, of course, you may have a client or two that you need to fire but have not yet worked up the courage to do so. The PPP offers a basis for making an evaluation of whether an existing relationship is feeding you psychically as well as physically.

Do you have your PPP in place and do you use it as a yardstick (or meter stick) to measure with and against? That's great! Now move on in your discussion with your coach to look at your practice. This is both the verb—to practice—and the noun—your practice. You want to get feedback/coaching on your sales skills and the particular skill you're currently concentrating on developing. The skill you're practicing could be asking better/tougher questions, preparing more thoroughly for calls, penetrating accounts more fully, etc.

Then there is the practice that is a noun. Like other professionals, you have to ask yourself, "What is your practice development plan?" What is your target mix for new and existing clients? Large and small accounts? Local and remote clients? Each of these has an impact on your business and its ability to sustain down markets and/or the loss of one or more key clients. What is your plan and have you recently reviewed it with your coach?

As noted in the beginning, I'm certain for this readership there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 3). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Success story A&S BMW Motorcycles

Posted by WABC

By Gary Henson

The Business / The Organization: Randy Felice is the owner of A&S BMW Motorcycles, the largest BMW Motorcycle dealership in the world. With humble beginnings, A&S began as a salvage motorcycle store in 1968. In 1988 they became a BMW motorcycle dealership. By 1998 they finalized the contract to provide BMW motorcycles to the California Highway Patrol and began to grow rapidly.

The Partnership: As the son of the original founder of A&S Cycles, Randy has worked in the business all of his life. When his parents retired in 2003, he began registering his leadership team in management classes. On the last day of one of Randy's courses, the leader recommended getting a business coach.

Although Gary Henson, president of BusinessCoach.com, had spoken previously to Randy several times about business coaching, Randy admits not really understanding the value that coaching could have for him and A&S BMW. The timing was right; Gary made a routine follow-up call soon after Randy's discussion with the management course leader. Randy said, "I chose Coach Gary because he was committed to being my coach. I could tell that he would be committed to the success of my business like it was his own."

The Challenge: Randy's priority in hiring a business coach was to cut business expenses. Even with his degree in business, Randy also knew that he needed help learning to be an effective manager. As the partnership developed, Gary and Randy found that these additional issues needed addressing:

  • The company had no clear vision or mission
  • The company had no stated core values
  • Employees didn't know the strategic direction of the company
  • Employees had no clear goals or commitments
  • Randy was uncomfortable leading staff meetings
  • He didn't know how to become an effective leader or see the clear value of leadership
  • He didn't know how to develop a team culture

The Approach: At the beginning of the coaching partnership, Gary asked Randy to clarify three things:"What do you want? What are you committed to? Who's going to hold you accountable?"  When the foundation of trust and accountability was established, Randy began to take the following steps with Gary's help:

  • Established all-company staff meetings to build shared vision, values and goals and foster communication
  • Established managers as leaders of their individual departments
  • Implemented performance- and commitment-based systems for the company
  • Developed a monthly managers' budgeting and training meeting
  • Utilized profile assessments to ensure that employee characteristics were in alignment with critical need areas
  • Replaced underperforming employees with highly effective team leaders
  • Added new product lines that were complementary to A&S BMW's retail environment, such as Vespa, Kymco and Rokon Powersports

The Value Delivered: Once A&S BMW developed and implemented the shared vision, mission statement, commitments and goals, the impact on the bottom line was striking:

  • An 18% increase in profits from retail operations. This was despite a 5.9% decrease in sales as BMW Motorcycles discontinued many of its models to prepare for new models.
  • A 12% decrease in employee expenses, including insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Randy states, "Once we got everyone going in the same direction, we could get more done with fewer people."

Randy says, "so much has changed that it's difficult to cover it all, but what's important to know is, Gary made a promise to transform our business and he has kept that promise. I would have never believed that my life could have changed to this degree, not in a million years." Randy further states, "Anyone who hasn't taken on coaching is only half running a business."

Today, a year and a half into the business coaching relationship with BusinessCoach.com, A&S BMW is a different place to work, and now, a different place to play.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Premier Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Gary B. Henson, founder and president of BusinessCoach.com, specializes in business coaching as a strategic/change management tool leading to improved customer/employee satisfaction and overall increased corporate performance. Gary Henson and Randy Felice have recently partnered to write a book called The Fearless Leader. Learn more about Gary and BusinessCoach.com in the WABC Coach Directory. He may be reached by email, at: coaching@businesscoach.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

From Small to Dazzling: VSM Marketing Support Services

Posted by WABC

By Jean-Pierre Fortin

The Business/The Organization

VSM is a corporation offering telemarketing services in the information technology domain across North America. Founded in 1993, VSM is one of the leaders in the province of Quebec in this business area, and is positioning itself in the North American market by offering a wide array of marketing services to its information technology clients, including client prospecting and qualification, targeted client databases, business intelligence and profiling, turnkey marketing seminars, and more.

VSM and its leaders have worked to leverage their clients' strengths as they work with customers. They have reached an exceptional level of client satisfaction, and VSM is recognized as an expert in the marketing of information technology.

The Partnership

The president of VSM, Alain Boudreau, had led the company through its initial small business stage and growth. Over time, because of their specialization, VSM created a large demand for their services and high performance. In 2001, Alain hired a new partner who would take over the day-to-day operations of the company.

In November 2001, Alain contacted Jean-Pierre Fortin, executive coach and the founder of Coaching de gestion inc. Alain saw Jean-Pierre, an experienced coach and previous executive, as the right person to coach him and his partner as they worked to take the company to the next stage in their growth. Jean-Pierre, a coach since 1998, had been an executive for over 25 years, and also knew well what it meant to be an entrepreneur facing growth.

The Challenge

Alain's main desired result from the coaching partnership was to effectively navigate the dazzling growth his company was facing. With the assistance of a coach, he needed to:

  • Help his partner quickly engage himself in the right direction
  • Overcome the loneliness that results from being the top link in the decision-making process
  • Shift from a day-to-day operations focus to a more strategic approach in leading the company
  • Modify the company's business model in order to develop a profitable client base
  • Restructure the accounting system to better understand the costs associated with each contract
  • Identify and eliminate non-profitable clients

The Approach

Jean-Pierre related easily to the challenges his client faced, because he felt that he was facing similar challenges in his coaching business. He saw the opportunity to not only support Alain but to also apply the result of the coaching. Jean-Pierre and Alain easily understood each other and established good communication. Concurrently, Jean-Pierre hired a coach located in California to enable him to step back and ensure the success of his own business so that he could more effectively coach Alain through this period of growth.

Jean-Pierre used a coaching strategy that focused on what was most important for Alain: sustained sales growth, higher operations efficiency, and improved profitability. The strategy for the business included:

  • Making a clear distinction between revenue and benefits to eliminate non-profitable sales;
  • Delegating more while emphasizing responsibilities and competencies rather than tasks;
  • Developing a client base with repeat business rather than "one-shot deals";
  • Raising the awareness and diligence of project managers to control the evolution of contract costs.

Rather than pointing to solutions to the complex situations that Alain faced, Jean-Pierre helped him work intensely to discover his own solutions. Over the period of a year, the sessions moved from weekly to as needed and upon client request. The relationship has continued, and Alain continues to turn to his coach to get clarity when facing a complex decision.

The Value Delivered

Over time, the strategies that VSM executive Alain Boudreau and coach Jean-Pierre Fortin implemented have increased the sales growth of the business and led to increased profitability and a higher efficiency in operations.

Through coaching, Alain became aware of the distinction between the different types of costs (direct, general, marketing, etc.) and their implication in profitability. He began to realize that these costs were too high with respect to the estimates they were providing to clients. The coaching led to some interesting results: while sales growth was not significant due to the elimination of non-profitable clients, the profits from the consolidated client base grew by approximately 9.7%.

The intangible results of the coaching partnership were just as powerful. Jean-Pierre felt as a coach that he better understood the rite of passage of a small business to a medium-sized business. The trust built between coach and client and the empowerment and awareness the client experienced will allow Alain Boudreau to continue to lead VSM to even greater growth.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Jean-Pierre Fortin, MCC, CEC, CRHA, CA, works with company directors, executives, managers and entrepreneurs primarily in French-speaking Canada and Europe. In 1997, he founded Coaching de gestion inc., a coaching school for leaders within organizations as well as for professional coaches. Read more about Jean-Pierre in the WABC Coach Directory. Jean-Pierre may be reached by email at fortinjp2@coaching.qc.ca.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.