As seen in The Advocate
Steven Oakley has been a senior business coach at MJA Business Solutions for over two years. It’s safe to say that his clients love him. This month I spoke to Steve about the process of business coaching, and working with business owners on the Coffs Coast.
What’s the most common reason that Coffs Coast business owners seek the help of a coach?
That’s a difficult question to answer, because people come to us for so many reasons. I suppose I would have to say that the one overarching reason that many people hire a coach is because they want to really take control of their business.
So many business owners are really terrific at whatever it is they do – they are great hairdressers, or plumbers, or designers. But running a business is something else entirely. It’s not enough just to be good at cutting hair or installing pipes – you have to know how to write a business plan, hire people, manage staff, and put processes in place.
As the business grows, it’s easy to start feeling like everything is getting out of control. My job is to help people feel they are in charge of their own business destiny.
What do you think is the most valuable thing you have to offer to a business owner?
Funnily enough I think listening is often the most valuable thing I contribute. People come to a coach thinking they will get advice and answers to problems that are troubling them. But most of the time they already have all the answers. They just haven’t been able to find the time, or don’t have the confidence to sit down and nut out the best solutions.
A huge part of my job is to act as a sounding board: to really hear the challenges that a business owner is facing, and then to help them tease out the solutions.
You’ve seen a lot of successful businesses over time. Do you think there is the one common denominator for business success?
Obviously successful businesses come in all different shapes and sizes. But I think the one thing they all have in common is the ability to plan.
Every business needs a business plan – and the really successful businesses have had a plan right from the start and they keep reassessing and reevaluating that plan as things change. Of course it’s important to have a great product and offer good customer service – but without a plan it’s hard to continue to deliver these things for very long.
If there’s one thing I make sure every one of my client’s has it’s a clear business plan that they believe in.
What do you personally enjoy most about being a business coach?
I get a real buzz out of seeing a business owner who feels empowered to grow their business. I love it when a client suddenly realises, “Yes, I can do this”. It’s a pleasure to watch them take control and take off!