The Lessons I've Learned from Five Years of Running a Business
This month marks a milestone; ProCoach has been in business for five years! The experts tell us that fewer than 15% of small businesses survive to this point, so I feel truly proud of this accomplishment. I am especially pleased that our coaching program has been a crucial ingredient in the success of hundreds of other self-employed entrepreneurs and small business owners. Not only have we survived and thrived, but so have our clients. I love that!
Along the way I have learned a lot of lessons.
Some things I have learned through good management and some through good luck. But mostly I have learned the hard way, through trial and error. I have made many, many mistakes and miscalculations. Fortunately none of them have been fatal and I have become wiser in the process. As the Chinese proverb says, "A blow that does not kill me makes me stronger."
One day I will write a book outlining the top 100 lessons I have learned. Meanwhile, here are three of the big ones:
Lesson #1: Marketing is everything!
I initially started ProCoach because when I ended my partnership with Harv Eker and SuccessTracs a large number of SuccessTracs members begged me to continue offering the system I had created because it was helping them achieve their goals faster. I leaped at the opportunity, not really thinking about the fact that I would need to continually attract new members to our program in order for my fledgling company to survive. I didn't have a marketing strategy or budget, and I certainly did not know how difficult I would find it to promote myself. I see many people start businesses with the same fantasy; the belief that clients will beat a path to their door just because they have a good product. This is not true. The ProCoach Success System is an exceptional product and our client satisfaction is extremely high yet I still have to spend at least 50% of my time marketing to keep the business healthy. I do it even though the marketing and sales process makes me extremely uncomfortable. I hate promoting myself, being in the spotlight or selling myself to people. If you feel the resistance I do, you will need to develop your marketing skills and get used to being uncomfortable if you wish to reach your goals.
Lesson #2: The power of systems
When I first read Michael Gerber's E-Myth many years ago I fell in love with the idea of creating systems. What I didn't realize was that systems are not just nice, they are essential for success. When I started ProCoach in 2004, our business was quite simple. Although it was time consuming, we were able to do things manually. As we grew the complexity of our operations increased. We had to figure out how to build a data base, register members, collect payments, organize events, communicate with our members, and so on. There are almost three hundred steps required for us to organize and run our member seminars each quarter. One missed item can ruin a seminar. To stay organized and handle the details we have borrowed systems from other successful businesses and we have created our own. You must follow systems or you will never be able to develop the business to its potential. Systems save time, save money, reduce complexity, make it possible to delegate tasks to others and enable you to deliver consistent results to your clients.
Lesson #3: To grow your business you must grow yourself!
I had been coaching small business owners for over ten years when I started ProCoach so I thought I understood what it took to succeed on my own. Not even close! I totally underestimated the risks I would have to take and amount of effort I would need to invest to build my business. Over and over I have been forced to confront my fear of inadequacy, my self-doubt, my procrastination and lack of focus, my micro-management tendencies and my overwhelming fear that my business will fail if I don't please every person on the planet. At times the process has been extremely painful. When things got hard or I felt discouraged, I had to look deep inside to check my resolve. Was I really committed to my vision of helping a large number of entrepreneurs?
Thanks to ProCoach I am a completely different person than I was five years ago. I am a smarter, more experience businessman and I have more belief in myself than ever before. I still continue to stretch and grow every day. I now realize that in order to succeed as entrepreneurs we must all face our own demons. There is a direct relationship between who you are and the level of success you have. If you want more than you have today, you will have to grow and become a bigger person. One of the great benefits of owning a business is that it provides a fantastic opportunity for you to grow and transform yourself. All it takes is for you to step into the challenge.
In closing there is one more thing I must tell you about; a secret weapon that has enabled me to consistently move my business forward when things were good and when they were bad. I am talking about our program, the ProCoach Success System.
This is not intended as self-promotion; it is simply my truth. I can honestly say that I am one of the most diligent users of our system that I know. I am totally convinced that if I had not used the system, ProCoach would never have reached the five year point. If you are one of the 200 members currently using the system, you know what I mean. If you are not and you have a desire to grow yourself and accelerate your business results, I respectfully encourage you to check it out.
The five year hurdle is behind us. I look forward to growing our business and serving a much larger number of entrepreneurs in the next five years.
Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach
I will be presenting our powerful 3-hour Success Blueprint Workshop throughout BC and Alberta during March. This is truly a life-changing evening. For details, use the links below:
Edmonton, AB - Monday, March 9
Red Deer, AB - Tuesday, March 10
Calgary, AB - Wednesday, March 11
Burnaby, BC - Wednesday, March 18
Or go to: https://procoachsystem.com
Contact the ProCoach office if you would like to schedule a private workshop for your organization, sales team or networking group. We can even explain how you can earn money sponsoring the Success Blueprint Workshop.
To view back issues of The ProCoach Connection, click here
Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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