The Real Rendezvous Podcast

Episode 18 featuring founder of Ferarrio Consulting Breda Ferarrio is live now!

With over 20 years experience as a business coach/consultant, Breda works with business owners and leadership teams, helping them achieve their ambitions through business coaching/consulting. Her holistic approach aids business leaders/owners by identifying and challenging their blind spots: she's the third eye that sees what you/your teams can't see.

She shares so many gems on why businesses fail, how they succeed, importance of culture, dynamics of leadership and burn out. We're so excited to celebrate the start of the new year with Breda, as shares everything you need to know to get motivated and focused on growing your business for 2023. Time to get planning and here’s to a successful new year ahead!

The full episode is live now on all podcast streaming platforms via the link the link: https://lnkd.in/dEwY7nU6 or you can search 'The Real Rendezvous podcast' on all platforms.


How is your business really feeling?

Understanding the energy of a business is key to making strategic choices when it comes to its future.

The first thing I notice when we go into a business is how it feels. And when we’re doing a piece of consulting or coaching work, this is where we like to start: with the energy of the business. It’s one of the most important aspects to assess and understand. Of course, the profit  revenue and commercial growth are relevant and vital, the key however is understanding the impact that energy has on those aspects of the business.

If the energy isn’t right in a business, – and must address it.  Equally if its good you can leverage it.  We go in and encourage businesses to look at the ‘’feeling’ in the business  - teams, individuals AND the business as a whole – acknowledge it and ensure you address it as part of your overall commercial and cultural strategy. How the business and the individuals in the business feel day to day is where the really interesting story starts.

When the energy is high

In a start-up business, the energy is always high both excited and nervous - and the owner and individuals in the business are excited to be at the start of the journey – if as well as some nerves thrown in. Assuming this eventually leads to a period of success, they might start to think about how to grow the business and take it to the next level.

Investing in your business – staff, offices, systems - maybe in a business consultant (!) - will support that growth You know you want to grow, and are riding a wave of positivity, so will be receptive to any and all new ideas. Working with/in a business at this stage of its development to be a very rewarding and enjoyable process.

The period of growth and success that follows this makes it a great business to be part of – lots of celebrator moments, down to the pub on a Friday afternoon. Highly energised, tight-Knit team!

This can even lead to a point at which the business – and the individuals – feel they can do know wrong – leap tall buildings etc. The feeling of ultimate success often leads to investments back into personal lives (house’s, holidays, cars – or indeed with 1 client they invested in an office in the fourth most expensive piece of real estate in Manhattan!

When the energy shifts

And that is when the energy shifts. With success, and higher outgoings come higher expectations – ‘We have to stay as successful – in fact we have to grow faster. Expectations of all are higher, the systems and skills you have in your business are often not ‘fit for purpose’ for that growth. Often staff become overstretched and start to feel underappreciated, the clients are often now less happy, the CEO has started to close their door cos everyone is complaining. The pub on a Friday afternoon becomes a distant memory, people start leaving because the business doesn’t feel as it did in the ‘Good Old Days’

There is a need to invest in the business, but the owner might not know where to go next or how to begin.

When the energy hits rock bottom

There is a point where energy levels sink to disillusionment, and by this point you know the business is in trouble. It is not a nice place to be! Owners might come to us at this point to help sell their business, but this is completely the wrong time to sell.

This is most often the time when we’re called in, because the owner is feeling sick about going to work, and the fact that they’re still responsible for running and growing that business. Our role is to help the business acknowledge the energy, to understand what is causing it, then work out what to do to shift it. Then it’s a case of starting to build the skills back up and reposition the business to help it move forward.

Why the energy matters

The level of energy in a business really is key to the nature of support a business needs. If they’re in a good place where the energy is relaxed and euphoric, they’re open to coaching. They have the energy to have creative discussions, and like coming up with their own conclusions. However, if we’re working with a disillusioned business, they’ll need a lot of hand holding and they need to be told it’s going to be ok. So, typically, we’d do a lot more consulting work upfront because they need ‘fixing’. Then, hopefully, they’ll be reenergised enough to move forward with some coaching work.

A turning point for many businesses is when we tell them that they’re not alone, that every business has been through something similar – and there is a way out. And this shifts the energy in and of itself. It doesn’t magically take away the feeling of disenchantment, because they still have to work out what they want to do, but it is still a powerful moment. It’s the first step on the next leg of their business journey – to a place of hugs pride and success!


Demystifying coaching and consulting

If you open up your business and yourself to change, the results can be surprising and hugely rewarding – both personally and professionally.

When people ask me what I do, I answer with some variation on the following: ‘I run a business that works with people who want to grow their business’. I don’t say, ‘I’m a coach’, because people have pre-conceived impressions when they hear the words coaching or consulting. You may still find the occasional person who thinks you’re an old-style life coach who is going to make them hug a tree!

The businesses we work with vary across all sectors and are often stuck, or they might be highly energised but unsure of what to do next, or alternatively, they are planning an exit and need to know how to drive valuation. It’s our job to help them work out what they need to do. We do that with a mix of coaching and consulting – they’re not dirty words! And the process is so much more than those two intervention styles. Here’s why.

It starts with a conversation

There are any number of reasons why a business might call us in. Something isn’t working, culturally or commercially, sometimes it’s not clear what it is – and therefore they’re not sure how to resolve it. So the very first thing to do is have a conversation, to start to work out what it is the business needs. It might be a conversation with the CEO or many conversations with people at all levels – and it is here we start to get a picture of what’s needed to get that business moving and growing again. The beauty of what we do is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We define what the client needs and work out best how to meet that.

What comes next is a mix of coaching and consulting

Typically, consultants come into a business to tell the client or business owner what they need to do within a certain area of expertise. A business doesn’t have that skill set, but they don’t need to learn it because they can buy it in. Conversely, a coach will help a business to learn a skill so they can come up with their own solutions and learn to implement them long after the coaching is over. My experience tells me that most people need both consultancy and coaching – but there are points in their life or their business where one is more useful than the other.

Undertaking a business review

A good example of a piece of consulting work we do is a Strategic Business Review. I  go in, take some associates with different specialities with me and take a snapshot of the business. In a recent review for an IT services provider, I spoke to the key people, ran a workshop with another group of people and gathered a lot of information. We are given data – the marketing plan, the revenue and the numbers – of course, but it is more important for me to get the energetic and specific feedback from individuals.

The idea is to ask those in the business individually and collectively what works and what doesn’t. And that is really cathartic as an exercise on its own. It also gives the leaders of the organisation data – in the form of a detailed report – that they can do something with. Sometimes that’s enough, and is valuable in its own right. More often, though, a piece of consulting work like this leads to the owners saying, ‘we need some more support in certain areas, and if we don’t get this sorted out, it is going to stop us generating more revenue and the business just won’t change’. So, it leads to a coaching and consulting programme.

A tailored approach

Whether they’ve been referred to us, come to us via the business review process outlined above or something has piqued their interest, business owners contemplating coaching are open to a conversation, feedback and learning. We’re creating a relationship with that client and unpacking what they need.

The support then clearly varies from client to client. Sometimes they need CEO coaching. I currently work with the CEO of a luxury interior design businesss, and I have two coaching sessions with her every month. This is to help her get him clear about how she’s driving the business forward, managing the team, and how she’s going to position herself and the business going forward

Sometimes it might be that the partners in the business are confused about where they want to take the business. So, that could be a couple of strategy days, off-site and away from the business to have some good conversations and work out how to align their vision. More often it then involves helping them design strategy – be that structural, commercial or cultural – and planning implementation of each strategy

The minimum engagement with a client would be a number of months. I often to say to clients when they start working with me that I’m not going to disappear very quickly! This is because, to really embed change, and do it sustainably, takes time – through executive coaching and development, training with the whole team – and ultimately helping them with implementation the changes discussed and/or agreed on in the strategy work.

So, that process might go on for several years, which I enjoy as longer-term relationships feel more authentic. The nature of the relationship changes over that time – from coaching and consulting to mentoring -  and often friendship

Driving sustainable change

Something we’re seeing increasingly in our work is the desire to learn coaching skills as a management style. So, instead of management or leadership development, owners and managers are asking us to come in and give them the coaching skills we use when we go into a business. In other words, we’re coaching them to learn how to coach their teams – rather than just telling them what to do. If a manager coaches those around them, it drives sustainability and change, it drives capability, and it drives commercial and cultural results in a business. It gives senior leaders the skill to drive the business forward themselves, and I’m personally passionate about that.


Can I be my own business coach?

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.