I have recently taken some time to reflect on my career and think deeply about the people and experiences that have helped shape me.
One of my most important reflections centred around how important mentors, coaches, and independent sounding boards have been in helping fuel personal, professional, and business growth. I count around ten people that have had a profound influence on me. Each, in their own way, has challenged me, opened my eyes up to different perspectives, shone a light on my blind spots, and helped me achieve breakthroughs.
As part of a broader project to help understand and help entrepreneurs, I have interviewed around 50 of WA’s most successful business owners. We talked about their family and life experiences, lessons learned in business, and how they manage their financial affairs.
Interestingly, when we discussed their businesses, almost every one of them similarly talked about the growth and breakthroughs they had gained from mentors, coaches, and sounding boards.
Here are the four main ways that those interviewed have used other people to help them achieve greater business success:
Business coaches and subject matter specialists
The most successful sporting teams have exceptional coaches. So, it makes sense that the most successful businesses have exceptional business coaches. The key to success with business coaches is getting good help to deeply understand and identify what your business needs and find a coach that specialises in this area. You may need help with business strategy, building teams, succession, systems and processes or people. There are wonderful coaches and specialists that can help you uncover issues and take your business to the next level. Being connected to the right person and the right time can be a game changer.
Peer advisory groups
Business owners often feel lonely at the top and feel the weight of responsibility to make the right decisions for their team and clients. Many appreciate talking to others who have been through similar experiences and solved similar issues. This is why many business owners are part of peer-to-peer advisery groups like The Executive Connection (TEC), CEO Institute, Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) or Young Presidents’ Organisation (YPO). These groups are facilitated by experienced business leaders and usually have 10 – 20 business owners or C-suite professionals that catch up regularly to help each other and share ideas, learnings and experiences.
Over the last few years, I have had a handful of business owner clients set up advisery boards within their businesses. This has involved inviting a select group of ‘independent’ people to provide non-binding, informal advice and support to the owners. This has given these owners the opportunity to have access to an independent view and a safe space to discuss issues of major significance. Having access to experienced, well-connected and influential people can help resolve issues, achieve breakthroughs and take your business to the next level.
Most business owners will have mentors and reflect on a handful of people that had a significant influence on their personal and business success at different points in their journey. For experienced business owners, these are usually informal relationships, but it is useful to maintain a connection with people that you trust and can comfortably talk to and offer guidance. No one succeeds alone, and the typical business owner’s journey from ‘lone wolf’ to an effective ‘pack leader’ is expedited by leaning on others.
Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you have to go it alone, support and advice is within reach. Next time you catch up with your adviser, have a chat about the challenges you are facing within your business. An opportunity is likely to connect you with some great people who can help you resolve issues and take your business to the next level.