HR & Management

Getting out of your business trenches, and staying out – the company coach guide

6 min read

02 February 2017

‘Doing things differently’ is a key ingredient for building a highly profitable business coaching, consulting or advisory business. After all, if you do what everyone else is doing then you are likely to face the same challenges – so here's how to get out of the business trenches.

In many respects, adopting a ‘time for money’ model that coaches, consultants and advisors tend to do presents opportunities but also challenges. Whilst usually being the easiest commodity to ‘sell’, a time-based offering is the hardest business model to scale in a profitable way. That’s but one of the most common business trenches coaches, consultants, advisors or accountants typically get stuck in.

Here I unveil four more business trenches you should stay out of.

‘Working in’ vs. ‘working on’ conundrum

For some this is a constant struggle between client delivery and maintaining the future client pipeline. It feels a bit like catch 22 – you need to get the client work done because it produces revenue but you are very conscious that it means no time is being spent on business development and ensuring your future client work pipeline is full.

This often causes peaks and troughs in your revenue and earnings. When you have a client project, your revenue is strong and the going feels good, but as soon as that project stops you may be plunged into the depths of despair when there is nothing to replace it, and so you madly ramp back up your business development activities to replace the lost revenue. But the challenge here is that without a strong future pipeline that you are actively nurturing, it is difficult to turn that new client or project tap on and off at your discretion. This is usually down to the time lag that exists between when you first engage with a client to when they agree to work with you.

Lack of consistent ‘qualified’ lead generation

The second of the most common business trenches is that most business support professionals have no consistent way of generating leads. They are taking a patchwork quilt ad hoc type approach to lead generation. They have no system or process for it. They aren’t embracing social selling and digital asset techniques when more business is being originated online.

Many are stuck approaching lead generation in the way they have always done, whether this is face-to-face networking or otherwise, and getting the same results. Many of the old ways of working are no longer as effective as they once were. Don’t misunderstand my point here; nothing can replace the power of building enduring relationships in business. But to build an enduring firm you need to make best use of your time and have a constant flow of ‘qualified’ prospects to speak with.

The curse of unqualified free consultations

Spending too much time on non-chargeable work. We’ve all had it happen. People come to you asking for a “quick favour”. Then the email from them comes through with a long list of questions, at which your heart sinks.

Some 90 per cent of business support professionals meet with most or all people that approach their business without pre-qualification as to whether they are a potential client or not. Their first response is to say let’s get a coffee because they are just so excited to have a ‘lead’.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t offer free consultations if that is important for you, but what I am saying is that you should be pre-qualifying who you are doing this for. If there is little or no likelihood the connections can add ‘value’ for your business, then you need to question whether that is the best use of your time. Time is money and any time spent on free consulting is less time that you could be spending on chargeable work. If that consultation leads to a four or five figure piece of work then that’s an acceptable return on investment. The difference is to be stacking the cards in your favour by ‘qualifying’ the conversations you have to remove some of the risk, so that the conversations you do have are more likely to lead to more client wins.

Client discovery taking too long and being too complicated 

We’ve all experienced it – being asked to complete an application form or long-winded questionnaire that asks too many open questions where paragraphs of text are needed. This is not respectful of our time. In business, many don’t understand the concept of respecting other people’s time, and act selfishly as a result. It’s one of the business trenches you should stay clear of – realise that it is a two-way exchange. Just as many business owners expect their precious time to be respected, they must extend the same courtesy to their clients and prospects.

Kelly Clifford is a profit specialist and the author of ‘The Profitable Professional’. He is the founder of Profit in Focus and on a mission to help businesses to profitably THRIVE. Get a FREE preview of his book

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