As a small business coach who has been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years, I am always asked the question: How do I grow my business? The question is broad, and as I dig in with a small business owner, it reveals their true question. The real question relates to how to grow a business the right way. Let’s face it, no one wants to make the wrong decision. The truth is, there is a lot of misinformation, “tips” and opinions for small business leaders to pick up from someone who calls themself a small business coach.
I have seen (as well as have been) the coach that gives their opinion/tips/advice to an entrepreneur only to see said entrepreneur take that advice (read what I think about advice here) and completely run their business into the ground with it. All the while, the key ingredient in a growing a successful, long lasting, market enduring business is missed. This blog will talk about the key ingredient in any small business winning in any market. If this is looked over, your organization will crumble, and crumble hard! Consider the following example as it relates to your small business and its growth.
Think of building a small business, large business or any organization, just like building a home. To first build a home you must dig dirt out of the ground and lay a foundation. This means creating space, time and energy in your life to have a business. Before you can build a business, which requires time and energy, you must reallocate your current time and energy to allow your business the space it requires on the real estate you currently own. The next step is to pour the foundation. This foundation includes understanding the concepts of small business marketing, sales, recruiting and hiring, the internet and social media, finance planing and forecasting, how and why people behave the way they do, legal and contractual concepts, etc. If you don’t understand these foundational concepts your work and action will be less effective.
After creating space and laying a foundation, the next steps are building a framework, running wiring, closing off the walls and rooms, and the fine finish work of the home, such as trim, painting, and decoration. I see many small business owners asking coaches for “advice” about framework and fine finishes, and so called coaches giving their “advice” about these questions without addressing the soil and foundation. My experience is that when I have done this for my clients, I fail them 100% of the time.
As I have spent the last 11 years growing M & E Painting, I have spent time in many homes. We have put the finishing touches on over 7,000 homes in Northern Colorado since 2005. Being in these homes, I have also had the opportunity to learn about the basics of home construction. I recall one instance where I arrived to perform an interior painting estimate and discovered why our customer really needed interior painting.
As my customer took me to the kitchen, I immediately noticed a large crack between the wall and the ceiling of the kitchen. The entire wall had pulled away from the ceiling, creating a half inch gap between the two. In Colorado, we have soil containing bentonite which causes it to expand, contract and shift as its moisture content changes. This expansion and contraction can cause massive stress on a home’s foundation. The concrete foundation of a home is supported by its foundation, the soil. If either one of them is weak, the rest of the house is impacted. In this case, it was a small half inch separation in the kitchen. In Florida, this could mean a sinkhole, where an entire home and its foundation are swallowed up by the earth in the blink of an eye.
Question, what is the foundation of your small business? How strong is the concrete? Does it have any cracks? How strong is your understanding of marketing, sales, recruiting and hiring, internet and social media, building and leading people? Do you need more education, understanding and mentoring? If you feel strong in your understanding of these concepts and have put them into practice, great! Here are a few more questions:
How is your soil? Have you created enough space, time, and energy in your life to lay this foundation and get to work? If so, how sturdy is your soil? Part of the DNA of your soil is the 100% absolute certain beliefs you have about the world and the value you bring to it. Are you 100% absolutely certain that you will win, that you have worth and value to bring to the world, and that good triumphs in business and life? Have you absolutely decided you win in business? Or, is water creeping into your soil, making it shifty? Are there weeds in your soil? Are there negative thoughts, patterns or emotions creeping in that ultimately affect the stability of everything your foundation sits on? Are you not good enough, not smart enough, not old enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not _______ enough to win, bring value and triumph in life and business?
In March of 2005, I stood outside a bank in Windsor, Colorado, with the contents of my office stuffed into a bankers box. This box included an engraved business card holder from the bank with my name on it, and no more job at the bank! I also owned a 103% financed condo, a shiny new car, two expensive college degrees, a pair of suits and a half dozen ties. All of those things I owned, owned me to the tune of $175, 219.83.
I had just been informed that I was not good enough to win in banking (sounds like an oxymoron if you ask me). I was advised to “go do that painting thing” by a smug banker guy in a suit and tie. I was told by many that this M & E Painting side project would never grow to millions of dollars. I was told by many more that a 23-year-old kid close to $200,000 in debt would never become a millionaire, let alone a multimillionaire at any point in his life. As that negative water started flowing towards my soil, I had a decision to make. Let it enter, let it grow weeds, let it shift my soil, or the opposite.
On that brisk afternoon, I made the decision. That decision changed the rest of my life. I knew I needed to make it before I entered my car to drive home to tell Emily what just happened. I knew I had very limited knowledge and understanding of running a real business (foundation). I had a sketchy plan of what to do and how I would do it (framework and fine finishes). I heard the world screaming at me to go get smarter, learn more, slow down and make a plan first before I jumped.
Before I stepped off the curb into the parking lot, I stated with 100% absolute certainty that, “I am Matt Shoup, and I am a millionaire running a million dollar painting company that has changed the way people do business in Northern Colorado, period, end of story!” Then, JUMP!!! I jumped. That was it. I was all in. I was all in as I opened a bank account with the last $100 I had to spend. That was my soil moment. M & E Painting has been built on a strong foundation, with solid framework, and has a team of phenomenal human beings that have and continue to work the fine finishes of the business every day. Before any of that happened, I had to evaluate my soil and absolutely believe. I knew with absolute certainty that I win, I am wealthy, I triumph, and these are all good things.
Have you had your “stuff in a box” moment, your soil moment? Who or what is approaching your soil? Have you let it in? What is it cultivating? Are weeks sprouting? Is your soil shifting?
A real small business coach does not give advice. A real coach does not tell a client what to do. A real coach keeps their opinion to themselves. A real coach listens, unpacks a clients story/situation and then challenges them to make not a choice but a decision (read about the difference here) about where to go from there. A real coach is not relevant if they understand theory but have no actual experience and practice to share with a client. Lastly, a real coach inspires and ignites a small business owner at the heart level to take action and move forward and then walks, jogs, runs and/or sprints along side of them on their way.
Do you have and work with this kind of coach? If the answer is no, AND this blog inspired and ignited you to own and live your business with excellence, I would love to start a conversation with you! Click here to reach out to me and schedule a time to do so. Click on the coffee cup to the left to get caffeinated with me on a weekly basis, and become a member of the MattShoup.com community.