Breda Ferarrio of Ferarrio Consulting explains what you should be thinking about when it comes to assessing priorities in your business

The short answer to “Can I be my own business coach?” is “No!” Although you’d expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?!

The primary advantage an external coach or consultant has over the owners and leaders in a business is that they are exactly that – external. They’re not bogged down by the day-to-day, so are better placed to identify issues and priorities. Having said that, taking some of the techniques and thought processes an external coach would use and applying them to your business is hugely valuable. Here are some of the things we as coaches are tuned into, listening for and delving into.

1. Coaching vs consulting

Simply put, consulting is telling and coaching is asking. There is a place for both, but there needs to be a balance. In consulting mode, you identify the problem, design a solution and tell the relevant people how to implement it. In coaching mode, you may or may not have identified the problem, but you take time to ask the team what they think the problem is and what the solution could be, and enable them to design the implementation.

When an issue arises in your business, do you need to be a coach or a consultant? If speed is needed, consulting is right. If there’s more time and you know a coaching approach may bring a better solution that is owned by the team, that is the way to go.

2. Assess your energy levels

A good external coach will immediately pick up on the energy in your business. Energy levels change over the lifetime of a business; as it grows, becomes successful or struggles, its energy shifts. This, in turn, affects the energy of the people within it – whether that’s excited, celebratory, anxious or stressed.

This energy has a direct influence on the culture of the business, from you as leader through to teams and individuals. Leverage the good and tackle the bad – but always have your antennae up for reading the energy within the business. This lays the foundation of making everything else work.

3. Think about the “why”

External consultants and coaches always have a stock set of questions that are relevant for every business, regardless of its product, sector or industry. The first one is “Why?” This can be retrospective: why did you set up the business in the first place? Defining this is a crucial part of the journey and purpose of a business, which will help you and your team make decisions as you grow. It can also be the vision for future of the business. Knowing what you want to do with it, and engaging and sharing that vision, will make sure everyone knows the part they play. The “why” can also be something that sounds simple but is difficult to define. That is, the context for both your role and the business over the next 12 to 18 months (for example, we worked with an asset management business and helped them set a context of “scale for sale” – they had to invest in scaling up the business to get it ready for sale). This context will help you make strategic decisions for the business and know where to focus your time and invest your money. It is the definition of why you, as the owner or leader, will always be able to see the wood for the trees.

4. Define your strategy

You, as a business owner and with your team, need to agree and design a business strategy for the three core areas to focus on over the next 12 to 18 months. A good strategy has a written plan for each of these core areas. They don’t have to be long, wordy documents; simply the why, when, what, how and who. Each plan should have an owner, with clear accountability and reporting back to the senior team or board.

5. Capability and responsibility

Finally, it’s time to focus on your people. Have you got the right organisational structure in place, with transparent reporting lines, responsibility and accountability at every level? Do you “allow” your staff to take decisions or is there an over-reliance on a few, creating bottlenecks, confusion and slowing execution? Have you got the right people doing the right job? Are you managing every member of your team, both giving and receiving feedback directly and honestly? Have you defined a capability strategy for your business that will enable you to achieve your vision and plan?

Connect with me, I’d love to discuss how we can help your business.