Saturday, June 12, 2004

I met with a business coach

Thursday morning I met with a business coach, Leah Maclean. I met her through a small business networking group that we're both members of. As it happens she also worked with a good friend of mine at Motorola a few years back.

Why are you meeting with a business coach?

I've been running a small business as an IT contractor/consultant for about 8 years now. Along the way I've made enough mistakes to learn quite a bit about both how to run and how not to run a small business. This new venture though will be quite different to what I've previously experienced as a business owner.

I met with Leah to chat about what support she could potentially provide me with as I go through this new learning curve. I did most of the talking, bringing her up to speed with Sydney, my current day job situation and how I intended to fund the project. She voiced her thoughts on what should be my immediate priorities and said the next thing we had to look at was the viability of my beer and movie money plans. We've already got some healthy disagreements on one or two things which I think is a good sign.

What are you hoping to get from this?

I guess the most important thing I want to introduce to the project is some checks and balances both on myself and on the product. Leah should bring an impartial viewpoint to the project and will hopefully help me to recognise if I'm losing my way.

It will also be good to have someone to bounce ideas off and challenge my assumptions. That sort of feedback is invaluable when you're working on your own. It's far too easy to delude yourself that you're doing everything right or to reject winning ideas because you're unsure of their merits.

So why have you decided on this particular business coach?

There are a few reasons. I've known her for a few months now and my friend highly recommended her to me. I like the fact that she has a somewhat technical background and experience in dealing with technical types like myself. From her bio she also appears to be actively involved in the business coaching community which is a sign of someone who obviously takes their profession seriously.

Does she have experience in bringing a software product to a global market?

I'm don't believe so. My understanding is that most of her experience is with small businesses who primarily service their local areas.

At this stage I'm not too concerned by that. I'm not looking for someone to develop and bring a product to market for me. That's my job. Leah's job will be to make sure I don't look back on next year and think, "Well I really could have done a much better job of that."

If it becomes an issue later on I can always approach others for advice as well. In fact pointing out when I should be speaking to others for advice is one thing that I would expect a good business coach to be doing.

Is a business coach anything like a life coach?

I hope not.

I've heard Leah say she focuses both on the person and their business and when you're talking about a sole proprietor that's fair enough. I don't mind getting a kick in the pants every so often to keep me moving, but I'm not looking for advice on how to run my life.

Are you ready for a business coach? Aren't you still at your day job?

Yes I am still at my day job. Thanks for reminding me.

It's becoming a bit of a now or never proposition. I've been talking to Leah about engaging her services for a few months now. Each time I'd speak to her though I would put her off saying that I just want to get the day job out of the way and then I'd be ready.

This time around though, even though the day job isn't yet out of the way, I've decided to get things moving. Leah's first bit of advice to me has been to firmly allocate my time and to be firm with the client about how much time I'm willing to give them. Nothing I didn't know already but having someone on my back about it might mean that I actually go through with it.


At 11:56 PM, Blogger Peter said...

good luck. and it is smart to get advice from someone. you should also seek out mentors that you don't need to pay. there are a lot of people that will give you advice for nothing or for helping them with little things that fit your skill set, but not theirs. for example, ridding a lawyer of spyware from their computer in exchange for some legal advice, etc.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Lachlan said...

Thanks Peter that's good advice. I also find that when other professionals learn of what I'm doing they're often quite enthusiastic for me and sometimes volunteer their advice or (limited) services.


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