When I started Agent99 Public Relations seven years ago my plan was simple: replace the salary I was earning at my last senior agency role within six months, or get out.
I was lucky. I secured my first client on day one of the business and subsequently picked up a new retainer client each month for the following six months. I was flying.
Fast forward a year and I was managing six large clients at home with no support. Eating dinner at my desk and working until 1am almost every night. My balance had gone out the window and I had almost forgotten my husband’s name.
At least I had the foresight to hire my first employee. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have expired with my face in my dinner on one of those late nights.
Fast forward another year, I had a couple of employees and we were cranking the work out. And I thought . . . “Wow, I’m working like a dog, I’m earning good money, this must be what success looks like”. I was rather proud of myself, but in the meantime my body and mind were falling apart. And worse still, I thought I had all the answers because I was doing well.
A few wise people around me suggested I talk to a business coach to take Agent99 to “the next level” . . . give you that “work life balance” again . . . and that sounded so flaky to me. I thought you only needed a coach if you didn’t know how to run a business, or you weren’t doing well. I was quite cynical really. Particularly as I had heard others in business get burnt by coaches who had never run a business in their lives and spoke with only textbook authority.
One night I found myself bawling at my desk at 10pm, overwhelmed. I had an employee who I wasn’t getting along with. This person would leave at 5.30pm on the dot each day knowing full well the pressure we were under to deliver. I realised then that I had a successful business, but was far from having all the answers.
I contacted a business coach recommended by a friend in PR and I haven’t looked back since. I smile as I write this, but the business really has gone to “the next level”. I am working less than I have ever before. I have a two-year-old son, so I’m able to spend quality family time with him and my husband. My passion is running (coincidentally I ran my first marathon in the first six months of business when I still had a life), and have now picked that up again. I am surrounded by an incredibly dedicated team who help me manage our clients and get the best results for them time and time again. And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
So, if you’re stubborn, cynical and as silly as I am, here are my five reasons as to why you should consider working with a business coach:
1. You’re doing well and think you have all the answers.
Well, guess what? You don’t. Business will trip you up one way or another no matter how successful or experienced you may be. A coach should be able to help you get out of any sticky situation you aren’t familiar with.
2. You fear the unknown.
In business, uncertainty is always there. There are no guarantees or any way of knowing what’s around the corner. A coach will help you live comfortably with this fact and therefore (sensibly) push your boundaries.
3. You’re brilliant at what you do, but not a people manager.
I’m an excellent publicist. There, I’m not afraid to say that . . . But a manager? Well, that’s a skill that has come with time and experience. When you’re the boss and you have an issue with an employee, you have no one to turn to. A coach will be your confidant and someone you can call upon to talk you through your options.
4.You need a second opinion managing staff, business throws challenges at you constantly.
Your gut will be right 99 per cent of the time, but it’s always good to have someone who isn’t so close to the business (but knows all the issues) act as a sounding board. If you can sell them an idea and convince them, it’s probably the right way to go.
5. You like homework.
As a leader in your business you are constantly monitoring staff, clients, performance, the business environment, the weather, what’s for lunch, and about 20 billion other things. What some leaders aren’t amazing at is monitoring their own performance and accountability. A coach can set you some targets. Be it monetary, work life balance or learning new skills. And unlike reporting in to yourself and fudging it a little, there is no escape here. No one likes turning up to a meeting and saying “the dog ate my P&L statement”.
So all in all, I have turned from a complete sceptic to a total convert.
I highly recommend that you get out there and find yourself a great coach. But make sure that you do your research and make contact based on recommendations. Good luck!