by Todd Sivers
Michael Gerber first published his bestseller The E-Myth in 1995. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do. In it Gerber outlined the single biggest problem small businesses face, the myth of the entrepreneur. Most people believe that simply starting and running a business makes them an entrepreneur. But Gerber argues against this, claiming that most small businesses aren’t very entrepreneurial and that this fact is a huge contributor to the statistics that prove true year after year, that most new businesses will fail. 80% of new businesses don’t survive five years. And in his book, and the subsequent The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber explains both why this happens and what to do about it.
Gerber claims that most small business builders are simply self-employed employees. They’re technicians, managers, and artists, not entrepreneurs. And he’s right, of course. Most people start their businesses with high hopes, big plans, and a misguided perspective. It takes a completely different sort of perspective to build a business than it does to run a business. And this is where most business owners go wrong.
There are two types of business builders. And because of this, there are two types of businesses. There are practitioner businesses, and then there are entrepreneur businesses. And as you choose to build your own business, you’ll need to decide which you’ll build. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice here, simply a preference between building a structured, organized business, and a more simplistic practice. But understand, while there is no right or wrong with this choice, there is a profitable option and an unprofitable option.
I’ve done both. In my early years as a coach, I viewed my coaching business as a practice. 1-on-1 coaching was the only service I offered, a potential client could take it or leave it. And I made a living practicing coaching, as I developed skills and systems that led to the Four Switches training my business is built around today.
Because my business revolved around me delivering services to my clients one-by-one, I could only do so much. And this is why most coaches start creating information products and online courses so that they can teach volumes of clients specific things. I had already done that, with some significant success in using it to bring in more warm leads. But as a coach, when you start doing that exclusively, you essentially stop being a coach and become a teacher.
Coaching is about interaction with your clients. A coach listens to her client’s needs, concerns, and goals and asks powerful questions to help the client create focus and clarity for himself, driving the client forward. An online course or information product can never do that effectively. It may give great information, but that’s teaching or training, not coaching. And I just wouldn’t part with that most powerful element of coaching – relationship.
So I did what every self-respecting business owner does when he doesn’t know what to do. I started looking at everybody else. I started studying other coaching businesses, the ones that weren’t just information marketers. And I learned some really interesting things in the process.
Practically everyone else who wasn’t simply selling information, was struggling with the first two things I had conquered. They weren’t effective in who or how they were coaching, and they weren’t efficient in their sales process. I covered my 80% improvement in effective coaching here, and my 90% improvement in sales efficiency here.
Like me, most coaches get into coaching because the love and believe in the process of coaching, developing powerful change through relationship. But like me, most coaches become stuck in the sort of feeling that categorizes coaching as a practice and not as a business.
A practice exists to change clients, a noble goal. But a business exists to make money. While that goal may not be seen as noble, it is necessary. If a coach doesn’t make enough money coaching, she probably isn’t going to be able to keep coaching for very long.
So while it is vital that you meet the needs of your clients regardless of your business, it is just as vital that you build your businesses on sound business standards and practices. And that is something that many new entrepreneurs struggle with.
Most people would rather work in their business than on their business. They want to do the work, to help people. But they don’t really want to market, sell or measure fiscal progress. And frankly, very few people know how to do those things anyway.
But it is always a mistake to simply ignore the elements of running a business that you don’t like or don’t understand, because they won’t go away. But your business, or your financial ability to sustain yourself through your business will if you neglect these things.
Almost nobody likes to sell. And yet, everybody sells. If you don’t think you’re a sales person, think again. If you’re fully dependent on someone or something else to provide for you, you’re always selling them that dependence. If you work for someone, you’re always selling your ability to do the job. And if you’re looking for a job, you’re putting on your best appearance, selling yourself.
So to approach your own business without an intentional plan to sell yourself, is to create a hobby. Like the worn out axiom, if you fail to plan you plan to fail.
And one I fight against every day. So if you are an entrepreneur, want to be one, or if you do literally anything in business for yourself, stick around. Join us for free here, and we’ll keep building our relationship and your skills around building and running a (mostly) online business.
The 9th Day - 7 Ways