You did it!
By everyone else’s standards, you’ve built a thriving, successful business. You’ve succeeded where 95% who’ve tried have failed. You’ve turned your idea into a thriving enterprise.
But there’s a problem. And whether or not you have words for it, you are feeling it.
Maybe your business complexity is sucking away your growth and your fun? Or has decision-making become painfully slow? Or perhaps you’re selling more than ever, but no matter what you do and how hard you work, your profit is stuck, and you’re putting less and less of that revenue in your pocket.
Any way you look at it, you feel like your business (and maybe even you) is dying inside. You are starting to worry that things are coming to an end. Or you’re so over the stress, you feel like calling it quits yourself.
I’ve been there with my own business, and I felt every one of those concerns deeply. But that wasn’t the worst part.
The worst part is feeling utterly alone in finding a solution. You may have a good team around you, but you’re all in the same boat. And even then, you and I both know there are so many things you, as a business owner, can’t share with your team.
You also can’t share everything with your spouse because you know it will add more stress for them. Your friends probably don’t get it either. They think you should be happy, that you’ve got it good.
It can be lonely at the top.
The truth is some people can help, but you must make sure that you choose the right person, the person who can fix the actual problem you face, not the symptoms of a greater cause.
And that is tricky because anyone and everyone can call themselves a coach these days. Suppose you end up with the wrong coach giving the wrong advice. That is often worse than no coach at all. Not all coaching is crap, but a lot of it is.
So you know you need help. But you also know the average coach won’t fix your unique problems, so what do you do?
You skip the bad coaches and head straight for a great one.
So let me show you how to select the right advisor for your exact problem by explaining the three mistakes people make that cause them to hire the wrong coach.
Someone who will solve the root cause first
We tend to hire subject matter experts to help us resolve the symptoms. When sales falter, we employ a marketing company to help us rebrand or build a new website. When profitability drops, we hire an accountant to find out where the numbers went wrong. When we feel our decision-making capacity stretched, we employ a professional coach to help us make better decisions. When a top leader burns out, we hire a recruiting firm to find the “perfect fit.” When we drop the ball on a job, we look to a new software system to help keep us on track.
We want to believe the problem is a simple one, and we want to think there is a silver bullet to solve it.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with marketing companies, accountants, leadership coaches, recruiting firms, or IT companies, you should be wary of turning to them too quickly. Jumping straight to a quick, specific fix seems like a sure win. They have a great solution and lots of powerful testimonials. They are confident that they can solve your problem.
But that may not be true. I see these problems popping up in growing companies all the time, but they aren’t the real problem. The root cause isn’t your brand, your technology, or a leader who quit.
The root cause is an architectural problem inside the company. And when you try to slap a bandaid on a broken bone, it just doesn’t work.
And these are expensive band-aids. Any one of these solutions is likely in the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars. And they take up a ton of time, energy, and attention. And most of them fail. Not because they did a lousy job, but because you hired them to solve the wrong problem. And rather than stopping you, they happily agreed.
This is precisely what happened to Paul. He spent $40,000 on the wrong consultant and ended up losing $800,000 because of it.
Paul had been dogmatic about how he had built a thriving business. His constant focus on sales and revenue is what created the massive success he enjoyed in his company.
He generated a ton of sales through speaking events. More events meant more revenue. And each year, he grew the company by adding more events.
However, he noticed that he hit a capacity window. He simply couldn’t do any more events.
It was exhausting for Paul. It felt like the entire company was resting on his shoulders. He was already sacrificing countless nights with his family, and he couldn’t bear the thought of them having to sacrifice even more for the company to grow. But, to Paul, he was the talent, and the way he saw it, he was the only way his business could continue to charge forward.
And this was confirmed by the failure of a well-meaning but ill-equipped consultant.
To solve the “what” problem, the consultant decided Paul should hire another speaker to step in. Knowing how crucial this employee would be, Paul hired a consultant to recruit the top talent that could get the job done.
Paul realized his mistake after making an up-front, non-refundable payment of $40,000 and then wasting months going back and forth with the consultant and making no progress. He had hired a builder without a hammer when he needed someone who could help him craft a scalable solution. Paul didn’t need a band-aid. He needed to root out and solve the fundamental problem that was preventing his business from growing.
It was then that I had a chance to work with Paul, and we started by looking at where he wanted his company to go. As we worked together, it very quickly became clear that the time for those events had passed. It also became clear that he could generate more revenue at a more significant profit margin through a different sales strategy that was not available before, and he wouldn’t have to travel.
Despite losing 100% of his event revenue in the following year, his company still hit double-digit revenue growth. He added a million dollars to his bottom line, and he was positioned to grow even faster the following year. And here’s the best part, he didn’t have to take a single business flight. Once we identified and solved his root issue, he had way more time on his hands across the board. Work was fun again. I just bumped into him recently, and he’s having the time of his life. And to this day, he still thanks me for the work we did together.
Getting to the root issue can be exceptionally challenging, especially when trying to do it alone. You need to find the right coach who can help you identify the root cause of your symptoms first and show you how to solve it first. When you do, you will find everything else becomes more transparent and more manageable, and leading your business becomes a lot of fun!
Someone who uses a structured process
One of the easiest ways to distinguish a great coach from a bad one is whether or not they follow a structured process. If you’ve previously hired a coach/consultant, I can almost guarantee you’ve sat down at a meeting with the coach and asked the question – “What can I help you with today?”
If that is how your coaching sessions start, get out of there, fast. It’s not your job to know what you need to work on. That is why you hired a coach in the first place. You need someone who can see what you need better than you can. You need someone who can see your blindspot. You need someone who already knows what is around the next corner for you.
But all too often, coaches wing it. It’s not malicious. They may have to spend all their time marketing and selling, leaving little to no time to prep. They may be successful in their own right and over-rely on their experience and charisma to carry things forward.
No matter what the reason is, the result is the same. Bleh. Sure, most coaches have some great nuggets of wisdom; you may even like them personally. But showing up once a week or once a month to hear someone make it up as they go is no good.
Where it gets scary is when you consider that made-up advice could be the opposite of what you need to do. There’s no actual proof that it is going to work. And most often, it doesn’t.
That’s what happened to Eric. He was CEO of a rapidly growing company in Atlanta, GA. As his company grew from 5 staff to 15 to 50 with no signs of slowing, Eric realized he had a big problem on his hands. He wasn’t keeping up. Knowing he needed help, he asked friends for recommendations for a coach and eventually found one he liked.
The first couple of sessions were great. It was awesome having someone outside the business with whom Eric could talk. It was wonderful to be with another high-level leader.
But by the third session, the relationship started to get heavy. Eric had to set the agenda every time. And as time went on, the coach started conflicting with the very advice he was providing. He would say go this way, and the next time he would say go the other way.
Frustrated but not knowing what to do, Eric quit attending coaching sessions and ended the relationship. The real tragedy was that the experience confirmed everything Eric had against coaching. Coaching doesn’t work. Coaches don’t know what they’re talking about. They are just has-beens who can’t keep up anymore. And that made him feel more trapped than ever. He couldn’t figure out how to lead better, and he felt like there was no one out there who could help either.
It took me a long time to convince him to let me help him. But, ultimately, I showed him the proven methodology we used to help hundreds of companies solve the same problems he was experiencing.
As we walked step-by-step through the program, things started changing for him and the company. The process gave him the confidence to change what needed to be changed without changing who he was or his company’s values. It helped him identify and solve problems that he didn’t even know they were experiencing.
He’s a much better leader today, and he attributes much of his success to the structured process we worked through together.
When selecting a coach or consultant, be sure they use a structured process proven to work in the real world. Too much is on the line to entrust your business to a coach who is winging it.
Someone who can see you all the way through
So many business leaders I meet are exhausted. They find themselves trapped in firefighting mode. They have to keep jumping from one problem to another, always feeling behind, and constantly struggling to keep up. It just tears you down. There’s no room to dream anymore. There’s no time to get ahead.
When they get to this point, it’s not uncommon for them to look for help. They’ll look for a coach or consultant who can get them from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow. If they get lucky, it will work. The consultant will give them the right plan and help them execute it fully.
But then something happens that we rarely anticipate ahead of time. Another new challenge pops up; knowing that our coach helped us out the last time, we go back to her and wait for the magic solution to pop up. And it never comes.
Leading a business isn’t just about getting from A to B. It’s about getting from A to B to C to D. It never ends. If we aren’t careful, we can find the perfect coach with the ideal solution to get us from A to B, only to find out we have to undo everything to get from B to C.
This is the exact problem that John and Rachel had.
They had found a coach with a great system. It simplified the business, helped them gain clarity, and gave them traction to move the business forward.
It worked well for about a year, and then it imploded. It was the right system for a time, but it didn’t scale with John and Rachel. They had a leader who was critical for integrating all the business systems. She came into John’s office one morning, visibly shaken. And she quit. It was too much pressure for her to handle.
The truth is, it was too much pressure for any one person. But instead of recognizing that a new solution was needed, their coach doubled down on his advice, saying they just needed to hire a better leader.
John and Rachel spent the next several months searching for someone who checked every box while working double duty to handle all the extra tasks each week. It was a really tough time for them.
By the time I met them, they were ready to throw in the towel. From the outside, they were living the dream. They were running a multimillion-dollar business they had built from nothing. But, from the inside, they were drowning. On our first call, they said that if I couldn’t help them find a way forward, they would close the business and walk away.
In just one session together, with one of our Scale Architects, they had hope for the future, a clear understanding of why the previous solution failed so miserably, and a scalable plan for the future that would grow with them for years to come.
I had a chance to talk to John shortly after the session, and it was like I was talking to a completely different person. Where he was exhausted and overwhelmed before, he was now enthusiastic and confident. It was a truly remarkable transformation. One I’ve seen so many leaders enjoy.
When leaders realize there is a clear path forward for them to scale up without losing themselves in the process, they sit up taller in their chair, smile more, and move forward with more confidence. We put them back in control of their business through excellent coaching and consulting to achieve predictable success and enjoy it thoroughly!
Armed with these three principles, you are now ready to find a truly great coach who can help you grow your business like never before. If you’d like me to make it even easier for you, check out the Scale Architects Directory. There you’ll find a Certified Scale Architect who Les and I have personally trained to use our structured Predictable Success methodology. We want to help you and your team identify the root causes of the problems you are experiencing today and implement a solution that will grow with your business!
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