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Business Planning Tips

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Well, you’ve no doubt heard the cliché dozens of times… if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.

This cliché has stuck around for so long because it’s true!

It’s simply staggering the number of business owners that don’t plan. It’s not limited to coaches, it’s prolific throughout small business, and possibly most prominent in service (as opposed to product) orientated business.

It may be that business owners: don’t know how to plan; don’t place a high priority on it and hence apply their time elsewhere; or they just don’t see value in it.

Whatever the reason, the number of business owners that actually do plan is extraordinarily low. Maybe that’s a contributing factor to the reason so many businesses fail.

As a coach it’s imperative that you recognise and respect that you’re operating a business, and plan accordingly. And we’re not talking about ad-hoc planning. We’re talking about thorough, considered and consultative planning. Below are a couple of pointers to assist you with this process.

Goals and Objectives: In all effective planning it’s paramount to incorporate what results you expect from your efforts. These objectives will assist to motivate you and keep you focused on implementing you’re the operational aspects of your business.

You should clearly and quantifiably articulate in this section of your business plan all of your goals and objectives.

For example:

  • I will become the recognizable niche specialist in the XYZ Coaching field by 200X;
  • I will make $100,000 turnover during 2006/2007;
  • My margins will be X%;
  • Profitability will be Y%;
  • I will derive my income by the following product/service mix:
    • 15% 1 to 1 coaching.
    • 15% Affiliate relationships.
    • 30% products.
    • 30% seminars and workshops;
    • 10% recurring revenue coaching clubs and ancillary services.
  • I will obtain a market share of Z;
  • I will spend 15% of sales on advertising/promotional activities;
  • I will work ON my business 1 day per week;
  • I will allow myself 2-days per week purely to myself and my family.

It may be useful to divide objectives into those that are a must and those that are desirable.

SWOT Analysis: All planning requires an honest assessment of yourself. To do this, most business plans incorporate a SWOT analysis.

SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Doing an analysis of these will help you define areas that you can promote as strengths, areas that need to be worked on and opportunities that may be identified to market new customers or products/services.

Under each heading put in point form your honest comments regarding yourself, your business and the market in which it will participate.

For example:

My Strengths:
- Excellence industry knowledge and contacts within my target niche.
- An existing database of clients to package my coaching services to.

My Weaknesses:
- Little marketing experience.
- Not technology savvy.
- Limited capital start-up funds.

My Opportunities:
- Existing contacts and database of potential clients.
- Niche market becoming increasing aware of coaching benefits.

My Threats:
- Several strongly branded competitors in market.
- Education of coaching benefits required to niche.

Successful Expectations

Business Development, Personal Development Comments Off

Expectations are the precursor of outcomes. What you expect to happen will happen. The expectations you have are extremely powerful in determining the outcomes you produce. It’s very rare indeed that we have a low expectation and produce a high outcome. Highly successful people expect to be successful. And interestingly, they expect to be successful even before they have evidence to validate such expectation.

Using the case study below, the successful coach expects (not wants, but expects) to be successful. Deep in their inner being they KNOW with absolutely certainty that they are going to be successful. They are void of doubt. They know with certainty that they will achieve their desired results. Any challenges that confront them along the way they KNOW they will overcome.

The other coach however, may WANT to be successful, but they have limiting beliefs which prohibit them from expecting to be successful. These limiting beliefs manifest in doubt and work at a subconscious level to ensure that the coach is not successful. Their ‘want’ to be successful is a conscious desire. It’s not hard coded into their being. But their doubts are hard coded, and hence overcome their conscious thoughts about success.

In both instances, the coaches are correct in their expectations!

Case Study

Consider 2 start-up coaches. Each is in their late 30’s, each just finishing a coaching qualification, each with similar start-up capital, skills and attributes. Each coach competes in the same market. They have substantially the same opportunity to create their future. And yet within 6 to 12-months one may have a prospering business turning over $10,000 + per month, and one may be struggling to get clients. This is an extremely common scenario (not just in coaching, but in business and in life).

One of the most important differentiators between the successful coach and the other is their perception of their reality. To an outside observer, each coach has the same resources and hence should have the same reality, and produce the same results. Yet, successful people are often able, through subconscious and cognitive processes, to frame their reality in such a way as to create a substantially more beneficial outcome.

They are able to see opportunity where others see adversity. When confronted by a challenge they’re able to reframe it into a positive outcome. They’re able to remain focussed on their objectives. They’re able to see the bigger picture rather than being caught up in non-productive activities.

It’s critical that if you want to be successful, and develop a success mindset, that you identify your limiting beliefs and reframe them. You NEED to hard code your positive expectations and become void of limiting beliefs and doubts. Only then will you be able to develop expectations that will be realised.

  • What beliefs do you have that are limiting your ability to achieve?
    I don’t have enough experience to be successful in business?
    People won’t perceive me as an expert?
    People won’t pay me enough for my services that I could be successful?
    It’s impossible for me to charge $500, or $2,500 per month for my service.
    If I ask someone to commit to a contract they won’t see value in it?
    I feel uncomfortable asking people to sign up for my service.
    I feel embarrassed talking to people about my service and about myself.
  • What past or present experiences do you have that may reinforce your limiting beliefs?
    I only earn $30,000 per annum now, so it’s impossible for me to earn $100,000 per annum in business.

How to Effectively Set Goals

Business Development, Personal Development, Professional Development Comments Off

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Zig Ziglar

Clear goals contain the power to motivate and energise us into action. Yet so often we start out on the quest for self-improvement, either personally or professionally with no real concept of where we want to be or exactly what it is we want.

We may have some vague concept in mind, such as increasing income or productivity but this is rarely translated into specific goals. Without a clear goal in mind, it becomes increasingly likely that we may unwittingly focus our well intended energy in the wrong direction.

When we are unsure of where we are heading it becomes very easy to work hard yet accomplish little. With a clear goal in sight, we can ensure that our actions continually contribute to its achievement.

Without goals you are drifting and when you drift you are not in control. If you are not in control, then someone else is. Then you have relinquished the basic right to be master of your own destiny. In doing this you also surrender your freedom of action which restricts your choices and can lead to frustration, anxiety, fear and stress.

The benefits of goal setting are numerous. Individuals who set effective goals:

  • suffer less stress and anxiety;
  • have better concentration;
  • show increased self confidence;
  • perform better;
  • are happier with their performance.

Goal setting also:

  • keeps you focussed;
  • provides clarity and direction;
  • increases determination, patience and persistence;
  • builds self-esteem when goals are met;
  • ensures you remain proactive in your life, rather than reactive.

The seeds of achievement are found in the process of goal setting. If your goals are incorrectly set, then the probability of a successful outcome are severely diminished.

When setting your goals ensure you subject each goal to the SMART but PURE test.

Goals must be SMART:

Specific - Is your goals well-defined? Your goal must be clear and concise.  Avoid setting unclear or vague objectives.

Measurable - Be clear how you will recognise when you have achieved your goal.  A hint is to use numbers and dates where possible.

Attainable - Don’t set yourself up for failure. Setting yourself goals that you cannot possibly achieve will only end in disappointment. Make your goals challenging, but realistic.

Relevant - Try and step back and get an overview of all different areas of your life. Consider how relevant your goals are to the overall picture.

Time-framed - Set a time frame for the completion of each goal. Even if you have to review your time frame as you progress, it will assist you to stay motivated.


  • Positively stated
  • Understood
  • Realistic
  • Ethical

Most of these are self-evident and require no further elaboration; however a couple of observations must be made. If a goal is not realistic, there is no hope, but if it is not challenging, there is no motivation. 

It is very important to state goals in the positive. If I say to you ‘Don’t think of a blue balloon’ – what do you think about – a blue balloon. If goals are stated in the negative – you will focus on the negative.

ACTIVITY - Take a piece of paper now and make a list of 5 professional goals you would like to accomplish in the next year. Write your goals as though they have already been achieved. For example: “I earn X dollar per year” OR “I drive such and such a car”.

Read over your list of goals and select the one that, if achieved would have the greatest positive impact on your life.

Circle the goal clearly.

Below is a seven step process for effective goal setting. By following these seven steps, you can maximise your ability to accomplish your goals. You may notice that the activity you have just completed has worked through steps one and two of this process. You may like to spend more time on this activity in your own time.

This is a crucial first step. It is vital that your goal aligns with where you want to go and exactly what you want to achieve.

  1. Decide exactly what you want
  2. Write it down
  3. Set a deadline 
  4. Make a list of everything you have to do to achieve that goal
  5. Organise that list into a plan
  6. Take action immediately
  7. Resolve to do something everyday that progresses you toward your goal

(Brian Tracy, 2004)

The next step, step three is to set a deadline for your goal.


Helping a Client with Commitment Issues

Personal Development, Professional Development Comments Off

A client has approached you with a frequent query: “I can’t seem to stick at one thing for long. What’s my problem?” As the coach, how would you assist this client? LCI’s Master Coach Terry Neal answers…


A client presenting you with this statement and question could be talking about a specific area of their life such as their work or a relationship, or they may have come to this point as a result of not feeling settled or content with their life in general.

This feeling that may have come from being aware that what they’re doing or noticing about themselves and their reactions to “people, places and things” leaves them feeling dissatisfied and/or disconnected from themselves and what they see around them.

If as a result of listening to and asking questions of your client, you realise that it’s a specific issue that they feel unhappy about continuing in its present form, then there are a number of models and techniques such as the GROW model, Reality Therapy or NLP that you could use to help them identify and set goals and actions to improve or change a specific situation so that they feel more connected with that specific area of their life.

On the other hand if your client feels that general disconnection with most things including themselves, initially there are two possible issues that they may have to deal with: First what the “one thing” is specifically, if that’s possible to define and second the reasons for which your client says it’s a problem of not being able to stick at this “one thing”.

You may have already realised that for your client these two issues are interwoven and one will change and start to become clearer as the other changes and becomes clearer. In a sense then it doesn’t matter which “issue” you start with in this situation; they are almost one and the same issue.


There are a number of possible approaches you could introduce to assist your client with this situation but for the purposes of this article, we will narrow it down to two techniques.

They both require your client to be open and honest about themselves. However one technique is more practical and can be done by the client by themselves – while the other requires your client to be willing to “listen to their inner self” and will involve the active participation of both your and your client during a session.

The first technique has as its aim the creation of a Life Purpose Statement. This is a four-step process that will provide your client with a unique statement of direction in how they see themselves, what they can do best and how they’d like to see their ideal world.

  • Click here for more information on a Life Purpose Statement.

The other technique requires your client to be willing to listen to themselves and that inner talk that goes on within them at all times, without making any judgements.

You would need to ask your client if they’re willing to let themselves gain insights from themselves through setting themselves two questions that they would like some insights on.

Let them know that you will be acting as their scribe for all that they say as they talk their thoughts out loud. If they’re willing to try, then ask them to do the following:

(1)  Ask them to write at the top of a blank piece of paper or a new page in their journal if they have one the heading “I Want To Know” and then to write down all the questions that they have at the moment. Give them about 5 minutes to do this. The important ones will be there!!

Ask them to write them as open and not closed questions and you may need to explain this to them. Insights received will supply information rather than direct yes or no answers

(2)  From this list ask them to choose the two questions that have the most energy or attractiveness for them. If they state that there are many questions that they’d like information about, let them know that they can come back to this at other times and look at other questions.

(3)  Write these two questions individually at the top or two separate pages or pieces of paper. At the top of the third page in their journal or on a third piece of paper ask them to write the question: “Is there anything else that I need to know at this time?”

(4)  This is where you start to act as scribe for your client. Take their pieces of paper or journal and put yourself in a comfortable position to be able to both hear your client clearly and to be able to write what they say. Encourage your client to relax and to let their mind become peaceful and then to let you know when they’re ready for their first question.

You would also need to remind them that you’re going to write down whatever they say, that you may need to ask them to repeat if you didn’t catch it all the first time and for them to not judge what they may say out loud. When they’re ready ask them the first question that they’ve written down. If they talk freely just write but if they become silent for more than 10 seconds, repeat the question to them.

(5)  When they indicate that they have nothing more to say on the first question, move onto the second and the third question until they have finished.

(6)  Allow your client to read what they’ve said and to clarify with you any aspect of what you’ve written that they’re not able to understand. Ask them if they have any immediate comments about what they’ve said.

This could probably be the end of the first session with you client as this can be a long exercise. Ask them to take away what they’ve written and read it over a number of times between now and your next session and to come with any thoughts or insights that may have arisen as the result of doing this exercise and their subsequent contemplation of the results.

This activity could help your client to begin to look at future direction of their life and what they’d like to put their energy into in the future. They may also start to see that if they can allow themselves to focus on something that is of importance to them that they will be able to “stick at it” for a long time!!

“What is my real purpose in life?”

Personal Development, Professional Development 2 Comments »

This is a question that can be asked by a client at any stage of their life. They may have come to you saying that they have a good job, happy relationship with their partner and family, a supportive circle of friends; in short all the good things in life but they are still feeling that there is something missing; something that’s creating a doubt about all that they are doing in their life at present. They may be feeling that there is some as yet unknown aspect of themselves that they would like to identify and use in their life.

Alternatively, your client may be in a situation where no matter what job or activity they have tried in their life, it isn’t working out for them and they are looking for the answer to this very frustrating situation.

In general, I would approach this situation with the client by asking them if they’d be willing to create a life purpose statement; a statement that is a start and not necessarily the final statement that would be created after a time spent thinking about aspect of themselves and what they’d like to see in the world.

To begin, provide your client with 6 pieces of plain paper and a few pens and then ask them to do the following: “On the first piece of paper, list as many of your positive attributes as you can. This includes abilities, skills and traits that you know to be true about you and also those which a partner, family and/or friends have said to you as well”. Encourage your client to not limit what they put on the list; encourage them to put down as many as they can think of; encourage them to be truthful and honest about themselves.

On the second piece of paper, ask your client to write down all the ways that they express themselves in the world; all the activities that they do like painting, gardening, reading, whatever they do on a day to day basis, that’s what they write down.

On the third piece of paper ask your client to list all the ways they would like to see the world, the qualities that they would like to see the entire world express as commonly held values. Once again remind them to write down as many as they can think of, to not limit the qualities that they’d like to see in the world.

Now ask your client to look at each of the lists on each of the pieces of paper and circle the three personal qualities, expressions and world qualities that “speak” to them the strongest and deepest. This will mean that your client has 3 items indicated on each page. Remember to remind them that this is the start and that the lists can be amended at any time to reflect a more accurate sense of what’s important in their life right now.

On a sheet that you have prepared with the following words, ask your client to complete using their lists of words.

The first sentence starts with: My life’s purpose is to express and apply my…. Ask your client to write in their three most important positive abilities, traits and skills.

It continues with: through… .Ask your client here to write in the three best ways that you express yourself in the world.

It ends with: to bring forth in the world….Ask your client to list here those three qualities that you’d like to see expressed throughout the entire world.

The final step is to ask your client to read out their life purpose statement to hear how it sounds to them. You could then ask your client how it feels to them and if they want to make any amendments to it.

If they’re happy with it as it is, ask that they take all that they’ve written with them and review it often before their next session with you. You could ask them to consider one more question in a suitable quiet place with no time pressure and that question is: Why would you like to see this statement of yours come true?

Encourage them to write down any thoughts or ideas that come to them when they think about this question. You could suggest that they do this a number of times between now and the next time you meet.

Then at the next session you could your client: Has your statement changed in any way from what you wrote in the previous session? If the answer’s yes ask: What has changed for you? What did you find out when you asked the question: Why would you like to see this? Check with your client to see if there’s any further information about what they’ve discovered about themselves as a result of this activity

Now with your support, your client is ready to bring into being a life goal or vision for themselves and then decide on the practical steps needed to bring this vision into reality.