I started my own business back in September of 2008. Back then I had just finished up with just over 14 years in the corporate world (the alcohol industry) and at the time of making the decision to start my own business I asked myself a number of tough questions. The most important of all… “Do I know enough about running a business to start my own?” At the time I was blissfully ignorant enough to answer yes.
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every day of working for myself since making the decision to go it alone. However, the skill sets that I had back in 2008 that gave me the confidence to say yes, would only get me so far.
I remember back in 2010, I was sitting in my car waiting for my clients to arrive for their outdoor bootcamp. I had arrived early and as I sat there waiting, I started to assess my life. I enjoyed training my guys back then but I was charging them next to nothing. It got me thinking about how I was spending my time in my business. It felt like I was on the road a lot and the return on my time invested was very low. I was running a business that guaranteed clients’ financial satisfaction at the expense of turning a profit. And the reason… “because I enjoyed training them.”
Every business looks for a point of difference, their USP (unique selling point), and mine at the time was “come and train with me because I’m cheap”. (That wasn’t my slogan but it may as well have been). It didn’t guarantee a mass influx of clients. On the contrary, I believe a lot of people would’ve looked at my price point and wondered whether or not I was worth training with. It also didn’t guarantee regular attendance from the clients I did have. The first sight of rain and they would weigh up the price of the session and very quickly decide not to bother showing up. There were very few upsides to a really low price point. All it really did was devalue my product in the end. So how did I change this around? Well, I didn’t do it by myself. I needed help.
When you work for yourself, you spend a lot of time talking to yourself. As a result, you can often convince yourself that the direction you’re traveling in is the right one, even when it’s not. Having a sounding board to thrash out ideas becomes essential. Around 2010 I asked a mate of mine if he would play the role of business coach – to help create structure to my daily / weekly processes, to sensor-check my pricing strategy, to set targets each month and hold me accountable to those targets. I needed a person that would call it how he saw it without worrying about damaging my ego. The guy I asked was Kit Cheong, and I must say he took to the challenge like a duck to water, at times taking the ‘honest feedback’ request a little too well 🙂 Kit had no issue in letting rip if he thought my ideas and creations needed work. At times I felt like telling him to bugger off but in all sincerity, he was exactly what I needed.
Sole traders running their own business need constant feedback in order to grow. When starting out, it doesn’t matter if you get this from a trusted friend or a professional business coach. Having someone to bounce ideas off, as well as having them hold you accountable to your own goals, ultimately puts you light years ahead of other start ups.
If you’re in need of professional help with your own business, or would simply like to chat about your current situation, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Having lived through so many ups and downs of ‘getting it right’, I’ve learnt one valuable lesson. You can’t do it alone.
To your continued health and fitness,