The Power of Working With An Experienced Business Coach
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Sharon: Hello everyone this is Sharon Heller with Network in Action, and I'm here today with Walt Boylan. Hi Walt.
Walt: Hello Sharon. How are you today?
Sharon: I'm good. Thanks for joining me.
Sharon: Walt is a coach with Denver Business Coach and I think a great place to get started today Walt is, if you can talk a little bit about what even is business coaching and what kinds of things do you help business owners with?
Walt: Ok, well, business coaching, I guess, at a high level, Sharon, the coaches at Denver Business Coach, work with small business owners to help them unlock the true potential of their businesses. And our focus is to help them increase both the value and ultimately the "sellability" of their companies - whether that event is 2 years down the road or 20 years down the road.
Walt: Some business owners will come to us. They'll have a well-thought-out business plan and they know what steps are required to get to the next level, but for some reason, they and their teams have just not been able to stay focused on the big picture. And that's often simply because it's the classic case of urgent getting in the way of important in their day to day activities.
Walt: Other owners maybe are successful in taking their business to some pretty exciting new levels, but just not quite sure what to do next, especially as it pertains to an exit strategy. So it really comes down to helping them, the business owners who have this intense desire to improve key aspects of their business, which they know are important, but they're just having difficulty setting aside the time required to really do it.
Walt: And a lot of these, are day to day business issues that are crucial to the ongoing success of their business, such as sales and marketing. For example, they may come to us with some new ideas to help generate recurring revenue or repeat and referral business - new ways to look at that?
Walt: In finance, we work with a lot of clients to help them make sense of their financial statements, and then to help them create a dashboard with key performance indicators or KPIs. In operations, might be the systemize procedures, optimize business technologies. In H.R., strategizing ways to help hire and retain the best people.
Walt: Having owned and managed businesses myself, I know how hard it is to keep your eye on the critical priorities, and coaching is a way to do just that. I guess also, I believe my job is to make an owner really think hard and to address questions that force answers from places they don't often go and it takes discipline, to pull yourself away from the day to day stuff.
Walt: Those things are absolutely necessary to keep the business humming. But if you don't think about the long term stuff, who will? And I'm not talking about just the five-year plan, I'm talking about next year or even next quarter. So I look at my role as a coach to provide you, the business owner, an experienced ear to think out loud with, to bounce ideas off to offer a fresh perspective. And then, ultimately be someone who can help you, help you, find the answers, and guide you to another set of questions about that next priority, that's on the hotlist.
Sharon: Yeah. Thank you for all of that detail, because one of the questions on my mind is what is the role of a coach and how is that distinct from hiring a consultant? And I think you explained some of that. But can you go into that a little bit more?
Walt: Yeah, that's an interesting distinction I think, one that mixes up a lot of people. While there are some similarities between the two, I look at consulting as far as performing a specific project for hire, where I might be an industry expert that is expected to report back to you with answers and conclusions at the end of my research.
Walt: Whereas in coaching, we literally work together every week side by side with our clients on ongoing business priorities that are often made very during the year and force us to make changes as we go, but all with an overarching goal of enhancing the value of the business. And sometimes our coaching engagements include some consulting type work, but more often than not, they don't.
Sharon: Yeah, thank you. And what would help you identify somebody as needing coaching or how would I identify myself as somebody who could really benefit from coaching?
Walt: Actually, this may surprise you, but I don't believe that any business owner needs coaching. Owners, though, when they get to the point of realizing some of the things that they don't know, that are crucial to running a business, that they need some help with it. That's when they decide they want coaching.
Walt: And so, for example, when an owner recognizes that running a business, it is more than simply taking care of the customers, they might also find that they've got to focus on finding and keeping quality employees, and understanding and managing costs and profit. How to keep bringing those customers through the door. These challenges are becoming more complex and causing many business owners to suffer from sleepless nights, literally, they are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Walt: So I guess Sharon, when somebody makes that decision to have their own business, they bring a unique set of skills and a passion for success to the market that gets them to a certain point, but simply because they own a business doesn't mean they're experts in marketing, sales, financial management, systems design, H.R., leadership - I mean, the list goes on and on.
Walt: And when an owner becomes overwhelmed trying to keep up with all that, with the industry changes and new innovations in sales and marketing, the constant need for more and better information. That's typically when we see them looking for help. The analogy I draw a little bit is what's like a professional athlete who benefits from regular private coaching sessions to help maintain focus on those little details that ultimately add up to an outstanding performance.
Walt: Business owners are finding too, that a business coach can help them provide that ongoing assistance in honing their skills and keeping them on top of their game. So I meet with them. I listen, we offer guidance in a number of areas and ultimately the goal is to help them get back that passion that they had at the beginning. It's absolutely necessary to drive those bottom-line results.
Sharon: Yeah, agreed.
Walt: Not easy.
Sharon: Yeah, it is not easy.
Walt: As you very well know.
Sharon: Right. And I guess that's why I was surprised when you said not everyone needs coaching because my feeling is everyone does. But I think something you underscored too in the word that you used is "want" coaching and you also use the word like "desire" early on. And I was thinking, well, they've got to want it. They've got to desire it because I know you're not doing the work for them. You're alongside your clients and helping them reach their goals. But ultimately, they have to put in the work to. Correct?
Walt: Yeah, it's not like I go back and do a bunch of work and as in a consulting description, come back with answers. It's side by side brainstorming, making mistakes, going back, recreating solutions, which is to me, part of the fun. But it is a lot of work.
Sharon: And what experience do you bring to the table Walt, that just uniquely qualifies you to work as a business coach?
Walt: Well, Sharon, as I alluded to earlier, I do have a lot of years of experience in managing and owning businesses, with a strong focus on both sales and marketing and on operations. In my career, I've worked for several Fortune 500 firms, as well as businesses with fewer than 20 employees. I think that experience, coupled with an MBA from D.U just helped me understand a lot about what makes businesses fail and what makes them succeed.
Walt: I've seen it. I've made some of those mistakes. I've had some successes. I believe that combination of experience and education provides a good, solid foundation for my role as a business coach and having tackled many of these same challenges that most small business owners are faced with day in and day out.
Walt: I believe I'm able to offer some insights and guidance to help them in their business. But even more important than those things, I think, is my ability to actively listen when a business owner reveals their goals and dreams and then to ask the right questions to help them uncover the answers that ultimately will get them to achieve those goals.
Walt: I really believe that most of the important answers have to come from inside the owner. Also, I'm part of a great team at Denver Business Coach, and we have both internal and external resources and relationships that allow us to multiply our experiences and offer the expertise of many specialists as needed by some of our clients. And that happens a lot with our referral partners.
Sharon: Yeah, your enthusiasm comes through for sure in your speaking about the work that you do. But what do you most love about being a coach? What gets you out of bed every morning?
Walt: Well, I guess throughout my career, having worked for both small and large organizations, my passion has always leaned toward smaller companies. I think it's primarily because I've always felt that in a smaller business environment, I had a better chance of truly making a difference, both for the company and myself than I did in a larger enterprise.
Walt: And I guess I've come to recognize what I really enjoy doing is working in and with small businesses. And what I'm good at is being able to comfortably talk one on one with the owners and ask them important questions and have them trust me. And as a result of that, I know that I can make a positive difference for them and their businesses. And that's really gratifying. That's what gets me out of bed.
Walt: Sometimes up at night too.
Sharon: Right, you do that at night so the business owners don't have to or alongside them maybe.
Walt: There you go.
Sharon: Yeah. So there's a lot of coaching firms out there and what drew you to work with Denver Business Coach and what makes Denver Business Coach unique and stand apart from the other coaching companies out there?
Walt: Good question, because you're right, there are a lot of other coaching firms and individuals out there, and I think, to begin with, we're a locally owned small company focused on helping other small businesses in Colorado. Each of our coaches has deep and diverse business experiences. And perhaps maybe most importantly, we tailor each and every engagement to the specific needs and priorities expressed by our clients.
Walt: Many coaching companies and you know this, are franchisees or large corporations with local offices and they lack our independence and must follow oftentimes prescribed rigid methodologies and timelines that can delay the progress and results on urgent issues that a business owner might be facing right now.
Walt: So we listen first and then ask insightful questions. And then create a plan together, a plan of action to help them achieve those desired outcomes. And I think that's something that catches the ear and the attention of a lot of prospective clients that I talked to and they agree that indeed those factors differentiate us.
Walt: And, people also sometimes ask, how does coaching work? What that process looks like? And very briefly, at Denver Business Coach, we start with two complementary discussions. The first assure that the client and the coach are a good fit. We get a feel for the owner's objectives, both for the business that they own and for what they want to get out of coaching, what are their expectations from working with us.
Walt: And then we agree on the structure of the engagement and schedule, that initial session. And very briefly, we offer a three-phase process that has that accelerated different times based on, again, the specific needs of the owner, but initially, it's an immersion phase where we get to know the business and the owner what success looks like to them.
Walt: Then we craft a strategic plan together. We layout a road map to make sure we're making progress on those priorities and then the execution phase where we take steps to implement that plan, overcoming obstacles and pivoting as necessary so that we're on track to get that continuous improvement in the value and strength of their company.
Walt: And most of our engagements are a minimum of six to 12 months. Many go even beyond that in order to get the kinds of results that owners are looking for. We find that's kind of the right minimum timeframe.
Sharon: Sounds like a very thorough approach. And I know businesses have so many aspects that their success is dependent on them. So I imagine it's very kind of holistic and looking from a lot of different angles.
Walt: Yeah. Like I said earlier to a lot of those answers have to come from inside and sometimes the owners don't even know that they're there. But we just through ongoing thoughtful questions and conversation, the right ideas and the right answers come forward. And that's what makes sure that they will stick if it's just somebody from the outside, suggesting things that need to get done, a lot of times that won't work very well.
Sharon: Yeah, yeah. Well, as we come to the close of our conversation today, any closing comments that you want to be sure to add here?
Walt: Yeah, I guess I think it's interesting to note that business coaching is actually a pretty fast growing profession around the world, has been for a few years, actually. I believe the reason for that is simple, from athletes to political leaders and business leaders, the highest performers know, that having somebody that they trust who provides good advice is essential to maintaining high performance. So I and the team at Denver Business Coach would love the opportunity to earn your trust and help your small business succeed.
Walt: Thank you, Walt. It was great talking to you, Walt Boylan with Denver Business Coach, and hopefully, we'll talk again soon.
Walt: Thanks, Sharon that was fun. I appreciate the time and the ability to talk about our firm.
Yeah. All right. Take care. Bye-bye.