To-do lists, we all have them, whether written down or rattling around in our heads. It can be all too easy to get overwhelmed by all the tasks before us. That’s where another perspective and the listening ear of a coach can help.
Angela Burgess, the publisher of micro magazines in south London and a business coach, joins us for the latest in a series of monthly interviews. Angela explains how she encourages business owners to carve out time every day to make steady, incremental progress. All power to those (effective) lists.
We know each other from networking in East Dulwich, where you publish SE Magazines. I’ve advertised in the past, and shared posts about that on LinkedIn. It’s interesting to know that you now have a second, parallel business as a certified Entrepreneurs Circle coach.
I heard it said that by setting up a second business the first one will punish you at some point – but that seemed a pretty negative perspective! So let’s be more Tigger than Eeyore here: what has intrigued or surprised you so far as you’ve become a coach? What has been the biggest challenge so far, and how has that presented opportunities too – for either or both of your businesses?
We have known each other for some years now. Your question is really interesting. I have never heard that expression! I have found that my two businesses work so well together that the coaching has enhanced my ability to help the businesses who advertise in my magazines. So often now when I am speaking to someone about the magazines and whether they want to advertise, they get a mini-coaching session thrown in.
I have the opportunity to approach businesses that I have known for a long time but can now offer them more than just advertising. I recently worked with a local company which was interested in taking out the Business Spotlight pages in all three magazines. To help me better understand his business we discussed how calls were answered.
When he said that he answered them himself (as so many business owners do), I thought that it was worth looking into a call answering service so he didn’t miss out on any potential enquiries. I am pleased to say he took my advice and now has that set up.
It is really important to me that when someone books advertising with me, that I do my best to make it work for them. The coaching skills I am developing have helped me to do this even more than before.
So I definitely see my two business working together and have not felt any negative side to setting up the coaching, in fact quite the opposite.
It’s said over and again that people do business with people, which of course is all the more true with coaching. Whether it’s a clarity call (to quote your website) or a chemistry meeting, as another coach I know calls the initial chat, it seems important to see whether you and a client are aligned.
Can you tell us a little more about that: how you go about this, what part instinct can play in both directions; and what advice you give to business owners about finding a coach who’s the right fit for them?
It is absolutely true that people do business with people, especially in the coaching sector. When you know that you are going to work closely with someone and discuss your business, you have to feel comfortable with them. As a coach, you also need to feel that the person is going to do their best to listen and do the work that you suggest.
The clarity call is therefore very important for both me and a possible client. You can often know within minutes whether you think you can work with someone. Often personalities can clash. Most importantly for me, I initially want to find out if I can actually help them. What is the problem they are dealing with and why have they asked for help? This is really useful in working out what part of their business needs attention first.
When I offer a short clarity call, I usually do this over the phone. However I also offer a strategy call to people who have attended one of my workshops. These last an hour and are via Zoom. After seeing me in action presenting my workshop, if someone then books a call, I feel that they have made part of their decision that they want to talk further. I will ask them to submit a list of two or three issues they are facing and what they feel they need help with.
For anyone looking to hire a coach it is important to speak to them as soon as you can. You can check out websites and look at reviews, but once you have that first conversation, you will get a very clear idea of whether you and the coach are a good fit.
Work can be great, of course, and can be a source of pride, satisfaction and new connections. Profit, after all, comes in all shapes and sizes. Having said that, and no offence to workaholics, it’s a fine thing to have time to enjoy other things too.
What helps you to be present at the screens, to be there with enthusiasm and focus? Where, when and how do you come up with new ideas or mull over a challenge you’re facing? Of course this may well be at the screens too!
I have always been lucky in that I have loved every job I have had. But as soon as I became a director of my own company many years ago, I have been clear about not over working. Whilst earning a decent income and the satisfaction of working on projects you enjoy are important, I am a firm believer in prioritising your home life with as much effort. Because I have now work in two business doing exactly what I love, I don’t find it hard to be enthusiastic!
Earlier this year I came up with the idea for my Build a Better Business in 90 Minutes workshop because I took part in an Instagram challenge: 31 businesses got together under the hashtag #findyourjanuaryjoy. I needed to come up with an offer, so I had a look at what everyone else was doing and the workshop idea was set. It is a real privilege for me to have the freedom to come up with my own ideas and then put them into practice. That’s really satisfying and pushes me to do more.
Reading for pleasure is very important to me. But I love a great business book too, so I often find that inspiration strikes while I am reading. Going out for a walk is also an ideal way to mull over any challenges I might have. It can also prove to be a source of inspiration.
I know that you’re a big champion of the local community – after all your magazines are hyper local. You’ve been talking to a lot of business owners recently, if I understand rightly from the popularity of your workshops. Grand to hear that you’ve had so many sign-ups!
Thank you, I have always put myself and my magazines at the heart of the community. As you rightly say they are hyper local and often the only place that you can find out about local events. So I love to champion the local community. The workshops have been very popular. I hope this is because I am coming up with subjects that the participants want to hear more about and perhaps ideas that they can then use in their own business.
I find that many business owners are so bogged down in working in their business, that they don’t have time to look up and see what else is happening. After a very tough year or so, that is hardly surprising! But I hope my workshops and the magazines can help.
Working with a range of business owners allows me to produce my own ideas that I can share with them, so in that sense my practice as a coach is developing all the time.
This is an integral part of my coaching the Entrepreneurs Marketing & Sales System. We put in place the basic marketing systems to equip business owners for success including a comprehensive review of the marketing they have already done.
One thing I am constantly surprised at is how many businesses are not taking advantage of Google My Business. It is completely free and can really help your Google rankings. I treat this like another social media platform where I can posts articles, blogs, photos and offers.
>>A previous interview: SEO specialist Josh Hamit on Google, charming writing, creativity – and eels
That to-do and want-to-do list can be endless, relentless even, for business owners (as well as everyone, for that matter). That’s a positive thing as it demonstrates our appetite to keep on learning, for new projects, to nudge ourselves forwards.
But there can be a downside too: perhaps the pesky “should” of what others expect of us, rather than what suits us best; getting overwhelmed by too many projects and ideas, and so feeling that we’re not making progress with anything much. How do you manage yourself, in that respect, and how do you try to help your coaching clients to avoid those “rabbit in the headlights” moments?
One of the things I teach in my workshop and with my coaching clients is the importance of working on, as opposed to in, your business. I suggest that my clients carve out 90 minutes per day to do the things that really matter to their business. I go through a 26-point checklist with suggestions of what these sessions might include. I am clear about what really needs doing and making sure that is prioritised.
Most of us have to-do lists but they don’t necessarily prioritise actions that will take our businesses forwards. Often we can have an item on a list and it never gets done.
Each day I decide on three items that need to be done and are non-negotiable. My day doesn’t end until these are completed. Sometimes they are done first thing in the morning and I can then get on with other items on my list. Other days, it feels like they take all day!
It is also important not to try and do everything yourself. As soon as you can afford it, I would definitely recommend outsourcing some of the tasks you either hate doing or are not that good at.
Most of us need to be the marketeer of our business but do we really need to balance the books? We do need the books to balance; but a helpful and experienced bookkeeper is probably better placed to do this.
>>You may also like: Habits: a very brief dip into resources, ideas and (possible) next steps
You’re an Entrepreneurs Circle certified coach, and I imagine that’s a useful template for your coaching business, presumably presenting networking benefits too with other coaches. Is there anything that has especially intrigued you so far about becoming a coach, and do you have a particular focus in mind for your professional development in, say, the next year or so?
Being an Entrepreneurs Circle (EC) certified coach has been fantastic. Not only is the training comprehensive but you have an invaluable network of supportive coaches around you. We have weekly cohort meetings where we not only share our ideas but often can help each other with a client. We often critique marketing material together. It is hugely supportive and the main reason I chose to train with EC.
The system we follow is the Entrepreneurs Marketing and Sales System which is a very clearly five-part system. There is a framework to my coaching but I can also adapt that and focus on one particular area: not everyone wants to be coached through the Entrepreneurs Circle system.
I have found that clients are all at different stages of their businesses; some are very new, others more established. But the common denominator is they usually need a person they can talk to about news ideas or issues they face.
Having a coach by your side usually means you can sort out problems quicker. A coach is able to see things clearly. Business owners are usually so personally invested in their businesses, they perhaps sometimes cannot see the problems in the most rational way.
It is fantastic when as a coach you have that conversation and you can see how relieved they are that you understand their issue and mostly importantly, that you can help them.
(Image credits: Bank Phrom, Sarah Dorweiler, Mariko Margetson & Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash; stux on Pixabay; many thanks to Angela for the headshot and logo.)
*What’s your experience of working with a business coach?
Who and what else provides the external perspective
that allows you see the wood for the trees?
Please don’t hesitate to add a comment below.*