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You’ve grown a business all by yourself. You deserve a pat on the back, a nap, and a glass of whiskey for all that you do. But what happens when your business, and by extension your life, doesn’t go the way you planned? Whether it’s revenue, your hours, your business model, or something else entirely, things can go off the rails quickly. That’s why small business owners and entrepreneurs need to embrace business coaching. But you don’t need to seek out a coach yet if you don’t want one. We chatted with business coach and former actuary, David Wood, on the 3 ways business owners can find success by DIYing their own business coaching.
IN THIS POST
Like getting in shape, whipping your business into shape also requires changing your thought patterns, habits, and addiction to simplicity. After all, few things are easy and simple, right? You know it takes grit and crawling through the mud to get your business from Point A to Point Z.
How are your abs looking today, boss? If you prefer the comforts of couch surfing and cookie-munching, they’re likely nestled under a cozy layer of what I like to call “pudge.” But if you’ve been dutifully hitting the gym, maybe with the help of a personal trainer, you’re fighting against the pudge. Maybe you’re not perfect, but you’re making progress.
Physical fitness is a lot like improving your business—and your life. If you want to see change, you’ve got to roll off that sofa, dust off the weights, and do the work. “Don’t judge my habits,” you might think, “My physique has nothing to do with my business.”Okay, you got me there. You can love jelly donuts and run a great business.
But what happens when, despite your best efforts, your business doesn’t look the way you want? What if it’s not as valuable as you thought it would be? Or that you’re working such crazy hours that you never see your family? Or you’re stuck doing grunt work that you hate now that the business has grown?
Instead of trudging along and trying to fight it out, you’ve got to jump off the hamster wheel of frustration. In other words, you need to get a physical trainer for your life: AKA a business coach.
“I can Google literally anything I need,” you might think, “I can run my business without a coach.” Yeah, you can totally run a business without a coach, just how you can do squats and pushups without a trainer. This isn’t about your ability. Sometimes entrepreneurs need help seeing the road ahead. Our vision is so clouded by exhaustion, stress, and confusion that we don’t even realize how damn lost we feel.
Everybody could use a little advice. While there are definitely times to call in the big guns and hire a business coach, you can DIY a little coaching on your own, too. Quiet Light chatted with business and life coach David Wood on the 3 ways entrepreneurs can become their own life coach.
David Wood is a self-proclaimed “woo woo hippie” and high-performance business and life coach with Play For Real. But David wasn’t always the granola-chomping, daisy-picking, sensitive man he is today. Nope.
At the ripe age of 23, David worked on Australia’s Park Avenue. After growing up in the boonies of Australia, the glitz of Park Avenue was unreal: and there David was, consulting big-shot brands like Sony Music, Ford, and Exxon.
David started his career doing consulting as an actuary. An actuary does important-yet-boring things like risk assessment and financial projections. If your eyes are already glazing over, I’m there with you, pal.
David loved the work he did, though. He thought his life was trucking along according to plan. “I thought I was successful,” he says. That is, until he went to a personal growth program. The attendees were a little too nice, and David nearly ran out of the building, fearing they’d whip out the Kool-Aid any second. “I nearly didn’t do it because they were smiling way too much. It was very culty,” David says. But he stuck around, and the workshop changed his life.
David soon realized that he was strong at logic and business results. But emotional intelligence? His EQ abs were flabbier than a jellyfish at a massage parlor. David struggled with things like:
- Making eye contact.
- Being vulnerable (without scaring people away).
- Connecting with people quickly.
David realized, “Woah. I’m not doing as well as I thought I was.” And with that, he was hooked. The first half of his life was about numbers and certainty, but by his mid-twenties, David was flexing his newly-found EQ muscles.
In 1997, David had his first client. She desperately needed help revamping both her marriage and her life. After chatting with the client, David identified patterns in her life and offered suggestions. And holy hell, it worked: the client changed her life and was happier for it.
You know how people get addicted to exercise? That’s how high David felt after helping his first client. “I still call it ‘hippie woo woo.’ It’s the touchy-feely stuff,” he says. It’s been 20 years since, and he loves his job. Today, David coaches everyone from entrepreneurs to vice presidents to even prison inmates.
If there’s one thing to glean from David’s story, it’s that the emotional side of business matters—a lot. It’s like skipping Leg Day at the gym: sure, you’ll have bangin’ biceps, but you’ll have skinny little chicken legs. Yeah, you’ve got to know your stuff when it comes to the technical side of sourcing products, hiring employees, and networking, but you also need to feel happy and confident. After all, what’s the point of owning a business if you’re miserable?
David thinks pretty much everyone needs a coach. “They want everything to be better than it was before,” he says. But it’s important to remember that a coach isn’t the same thing as a therapist. Think of it this way: if you have a broken leg, a therapist will put you in a cast and help you heal the break. A coach, on the other hand, will help you run a four-minute mile on that leg after you’ve recovered.
In other words, coaching isn’t there to heal your traumas. It’s simply about taking the good stuff you have right now and making it badass. Even if you’ve got gains for days, you still need a coach. There’s always a next level for you, boss. If you reach 100 pushups, you wouldn’t stop there, would you? Your personal trainer would push you beyond that. Business coaching has tons of benefits for entrepreneurs, but David names 4 effective ones in particular.
1. Figure Out Who You Are
School taught us a lot of things, like how to count, how to spell, and how to deal with social BS. But what we never learn is self-exploration. We don’t go through Find Yourself University. That’s a bit of curriculum that many of us gloss over in favor of, say, Netflix and comforting vices like beer.
Entrepreneurs are so busy running the business, fulfilling orders, and worrying about suppliers. You don’t have the luxury of time to sit in front of the mirror and wonder, “Who am I? What do I want out of my life?”
But to be happy, according to David, you’ve got to make room for introspection. And a DIY business coaching path is the way to make it happen. Figure out your true dislikes, your capabilities, what drives you, and (most importantly) what makes you happy. “How much do you like yourself?” David adds.
And that means all of yourself, boss. Coaching helps you find:
- The aspects of your personality you’re locking away (that people will probably love).
- The goals you need to pursue to actually be happy, and the business goals that complement them.
- Your blind spots, both in your personal life and business. For example, are you always sabotaging success with “what if” scenarios? You won’t know unless you go to coaching.
At the end of the day, all of these things combine to form You. When you know yourself, you can be unabashedly, unapologetically You—both at home and at work.
2. Be A More Effective Manager
David once had a stellar assistant. But out of the blue one day, she quit. As it turns out, David was giving crappy tasks to this assistant. And she hated doing them. Instead of knowing how to speak up, she quit her job and David was back to square one.
- With business coaching, you become a better manager. That means mastering:
- The art of giving and receiving feedback without taking it personally.
- How to have a difficult, but productive, conversation. Like telling your boss you hate your workload or telling an employee their work was subpar.
- Goal-setting, so you’re being realistic about your team’s capabilities while stretching them.
- Adjusting your leadership style to not only fit the situation, but to fit each team member’s needs (yes, really).
“By learning these techniques and modeling them, you can have more communication on your team,” David says. Instead of scuttling along thinking everything’s fine, coaching arms you with the tools to boost healthy communication and, by extension, employee loyalty.
3. Get More Customers
It’s a harsh truth, but customers don’t want to work with wimps. If you come across as disinterested, desperate, or nervous, your customers are gonna run for the hills.
Business coaching gets you more customers by boosting your confidence. And I know that sounds like The Law Of Attraction, but there’s truth to it. We’re hardwired to be attracted to confident people. The better your confidence and the more genuine your heart, the better your business.
When you’re confident in yourself and your business, you’re not shying away from the tough work. That means:
- Having the cajones to finally seek out an investor or financing for that big project.
- Putting yourself out there for podcasts, videos, blogs, and other promotional avenues.
- Questioning how you’ve been running your business. Confident people aren’t afraid to admit when something isn’t working. Ditch the bad SKUs, fire the bad assistant, and scrap ineffective funnels. You’re past that now.
Coaching arms you with the confidence to put yourself out there and be seen. That equates to more customers and a better business. And, by the way, getting more customers doesn’t mean running your business into the ground fulfilling orders. Business coaching specifically helps you a) grow your confidence, and your biz in the process and b) find work-life balance.
4. Be Happier
Yes, business coaching isn’t just for your life as an entrepreneur. It’s also about making you happy in all aspects of your life. In coaching, you’ll find all kinds of things you weren’t expecting, many of which will lead you down the yellow-brick path to happiness.
David once had a client who, with a little bit of help, realized, “Oh hell. I’m a jerk.” That’s a pretty hefty realization, but coaching gives you the tools to go from jerk to genuine (P.S. David gave this client a mantra: “O-A, Tay-Jer, Ki-Am.” Say it out loud a few times for a good laugh).
These unexpected realizations help you speak your truth. Like acing a jump squat in the gym, acing your business and life helps you be happier and more successful in the long run.
A business coach can quite literally change your life. “I spot patterns, see what’s missing, and make a suggestion,” David says. But you can actually make progress on your personal growth without a coach at all. David’s shared these 3 tips to help entrepreneurs reverse-engineer a happier life and business.
1. Evaluate Every Facet Of Your Life
You’ve put in the long hours, lived on ramen, and lost countless hours of sleep to build your company. Now the darn thing is growing like crazy, you’re seeing money in your bank account, but … you’re still not happy.
Money’s great and all, but isn’t entrepreneurship supposed to give you more free time? So you can be a spouse, a parent, or a normal human being? Entrepreneurship isn’t about money in the bank (although that’s a pretty sweet perk): it’s about balancing your business with everything else life throws at you.
The problem is, some people wait too long to sell their business. They stay in their business as it grows and, eventually, you feel miserable because your job description is out of control. The biz that once gave you so much drive is sucking the life out of you. You’re tempted to throw in the towel and take a much-needed Depression Nap.
How did you end up here?
The thing is, you’ve got to keep your eyes on the things that make you happy. But after years of hard work, it’s hard to remember what fills your cup. If you’re ready to whip your life into shape, the first step is evaluating how you feel right now. Take David’s free life assessment to rate your life out of 10 in a few areas:
- Career fulfillment
- Key relationships
- The relationship you have with yourself
Take 10 minutes out of your day and see how you do. Like your first time with a trainer, you might be surprised at how flabby certain things can be. For example, maybe you thought your marriage was rock-solid, but you only ranked it at a 6.
The purpose of this evaluation is to see what’s important in your life. This audit will help you see through the BS and target REAL goals, not the goals spoon-fed to you by podcasts and hype men.
2. Set Goals To Achieve Your Feelings
A personal trainer isn’t going to make you do 3,000 burpees if you’ve never done them before. So don’t do that in your DIY business coaching. Instead of diving straight into business goals, you’ve got to see where your heart is at. David recommends putting your feelings into the driver’s seat for this exercise.
How do you want to feel about your life? What activities do you want to be doing? Is money a component of what you need to feel happy?
Don’t set a goal like, “I want to earn $1 million in the next 5 years.” From a coaching perspective, this is backward. Why do you even want that money? Will that money really make you happier? (Science says no, by the way) “The Porsche or the extra vacation isn’t going to do much,” David adds. Business coaching means putting money back into the right framework: it’s a tool for your freedom, not the end goal.
You’re not going to do burpees until you know how to squat correctly. The same applies here: don’t set a big, fat goal until you’ve got the basics down. Namely, how you feel about your life. “Don’t get goals first. Set feelings first,” David says. Set a goal like, “I want to feel content every day when I wake up. Now, how can I get there?”
From there, decide on the set of activities that will get you to that feeling. That might look like:
- Exercising first thing in the morning.
- Getting a VA to handle your calendar and email.
- Earning more passive income.
- Eventually selling your business.
Basically, decide what you need to do to feel content every day. And no, more money isn’t usually the answer. David says many of his clients know they need money to feel more content, but the number is usually way lower than they thought. Thankfully, that means you don’t need $10 million to feel happy (but it couldn’t hurt, of course).
From there, pull your real goal together. It should look something like, “I want to wake up content every day. That means saving time by outsourcing tasks, boosting my passive revenue to $50,000/year, and exercising daily.”
Now that’s one heck of a measurable goal!
3. Don’t Forget About Accountability
Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution? It’s all magic and sparkles and butterflies when the clock strikes midnight, but on January 1, that magical goal that seemed so easy is freakin’ hard.
Why do so many people suck at resolutions? It’s because resolutions are goals without accountability. After all, if you don’t tell anyone you want to exercise at 6 AM every day, who’s going to make you? There’s no system or person to make you get off your butt and do the work, so the inevitable happens: you sleep in until 7 and say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow. Time for donuts!”
But if you want to get good results from DIY business coaching, you need accountability. We’re all lazy humans with lazy human brains, and we need external motivators to stay on track.
Like a feisty personal trainer yelling at you to drop and do 10 more reps (ugh), accountability can feel painful, but it’s there to help you. Consider accountability systems like:
- A paper calendar. Take the Jerry Seinfeld approach and cross off your calendar every time you work on your goal.
- Tell a buddy. The more people you tell about your goal, the more people will check in with you. If you cave easily to peer pressure, this is a great accountability method.
- Download an app. Good Lord, there are so many goal-setting apps out there, guys. Pick one that bugs you sufficiently enough that you pursue your goals. We like GoF*&$%ingDoIt because of the name, but pick your favorite out of the App Store. ToodleDoo is another good option.
- Get a coach. Yeah, this isn’t DIY, but if you’re really struggling with changing your life, a pro coach can be a good upgrade.
In other words, if you have goals and aren’t reaching them, accountability gets you there faster.
Life is hard. Business is hard. Getting off the couch and putting down the junk food is hard. Everything worth doing is going to challenge you. But if you’re up for going from good to great in both life and business, you can DIY your way to greatness. Learn more about who you are as a person, retain employees, attract more customers, and just be a happier person when you become your own business coach.
It comes down to evaluating your life as it is today, setting goals related to how you want to feel, and building accountability systems so you get across the finish line. Life’s designed to break you, but you’ve made it this far. Instead of settling at 100 push-ups, do that extra 10. You’ve just got to do that first burpee, that first step, to get started. You’ve always got room for more, boss, whether you know it or not.
Isn’t it time to be happy again?
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