If you’re established in business, take a moment to look real hard at the last year.

Ask yourself, “Could you have…”

Better systems in your company/department? Systems that help run the business whether you’re there or not?

Spent more time leading and growing your business — and less time letting your business run you and your life?

Done a better job identifying your resources and optimizing the top profit centers already in your company?

Attracted more clients who were exactly your type of client rather than just taking any client who walked through the door?

Done a better job turning your new clients into raving fans — for life?

Hired or motivated your team a little better? Hired employees that would be “round pegs” in “round holes”?

If you’re honest with yourself, I would hallucinate there was at least one area that you could have done better.

There are business systems, sales and marketing approaches, employee hiring and motivation decisions and customer service procedures that could have been better optimized. Perhaps you could have added thousands more to your bottom line, uncovered more hours each week giving you free time to build more of a systems-based business and immeasurably increase the level of personal fulfillment you feel every day of your life.

So… Why Didn’t You Do Better in Those Areas?

I know it’s not for lack of trying. More than likely it’s simply because “life happens.” In today’s chaotic work environment, it’s not necessarily that you didn’t know the best way to get maximized results.

Most small business owners who’ve made costly mistakes state they “should’ve known better.” And in fact, most do. The reason for sub-par results is a little more insidious than just “working hard” or even “working smart.”

During the time I’ve spent mentoring and coaching small business owners over the last five years, I’ve found the #1 most common cause is not too much going on (that’s the #2 cause of poor performance returns — being controlled by your business instead of you controlling it.) It’s not hiring the wrong people and motivating the right people the wrong way (that’s the #3 cause.) The #1 cause for making costly mistakes and getting poor performance returns is — being too close to the situation.

The Competitive Advantage of Having Your Own Coach

If I had listened more to my mentors along the way, I would’ve ended up moving from New Jersey to the paradise island of Hawaii years ago — and with a lot more money in the bank too! You see, in preparing for the sale of two of my previous businesses my CPA and I made a somewhat disparaging discovery. I could have put at least another $1.2 million more in my pocket if I just handled the “people-side” of the businesses differently during the last five years of my ownership.

I, like most owners and managers out there, was way too close to my business to clearly see the solutions to challenges and opportunities for growth right in front of my nose. I was so focused on the day-to-day operations of the business and addressing the urgencies of each day that I didn’t always reserve the time required to work on my business.

Thank God my mentors were at least able to knock some sense into me when it came to severe situations in this area. When alerted to the danger that lay ahead, I’d take a week or two off to concentrate my time to working on my businesses, instead of in them.

As helpful as my own mentors have been, (and believe me, they saved me from many costly mistakes) they didn’t follow any set program or have a systemized approach. Things would have to reach a critical point before I’d recognize the need to dedicate some serious time to the long range goals of my businesses. If I only had the advantage of a set schedule and a structured coaching program I would not have had to take weeks at a time all at once. I could have achieved more in my businesses, with less stress and disruption to my life.

This is one of the big differences between having a mentor, and having your own business coach — structure. And when I partnered with my first business coach, he helped me with that structure in three specific areas that my mentors had not.

*1. My business coach helped me set a schedule that worked for me. He consistently reinforced me to focus 20% of my time on my business. This allowed me to leapfrog past competitors with ease.

*2. With my business coach I had a structure of accountability that I didn’t have with my mentors. Not only was it my hard-earned money invested with my coach that motivated me to get results, he would hold my feet to the fire and make sure I followed through on actions I committed to every week.

*3. My business coach helped me save countless hours of trial and error trying to reinvent the wheel. With regularity he showed me how the answers to my greatest challenges were right in front of my face. I was just too close the see them.

If you’re not satisfied with your answers to those questions at the beginning of this article, now may be the time for you to find a business coach for yourself.

If you want to find the right coach for you, and want a tool to help you make the best decision, visit the Resource Center at http://www.RPMsuccess.com or email at: mailto:info@RPMsuccess.com and ask for the “Coach-Matching Interview Questionnaire.” You can use this form to interview the coaches you select as you narrow down your search from the plethora of coaches in the marketplace to the ones who are truly equipped to bring you accelerated knowledge.

”’John-Paul Micek is the lead business coach and COO of RPM Success Group. See the company’s Web site at:”’ http://www.RPMsuccess.com ”’Reach him at:”’ mailto:JPM@RPMsuccess.com ”’or at (888) 334-8151.”’

”’Copyright 1999-2003 by RPM Success Group, All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without the express written consent of RPM Success Group is prohibited.”’

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