The Bookworm with Ben Pritchett
One of the toughest things in the world to figure out is learning what you don’t know!
How’s that for one of the world’s top oxymorons? By definition, we can’t know what we don’t know, can we?
I see messages from new business coaches all the time where they doubt themselves. Yes, they aspire to become six or even seven-figure coaches. Yes, they have the best intentions to help their clients grow their business. But they still have that niggling bit of doubt that they can do it. They doubt their knowledge and their ability to influence.
I’ve been in this business for going on 27 years. A quick answer for gaps in your knowledge is often to find someone who knows more than you and get help, but that’s not always possible. The next best thing to finding someone with knowledge to help you is finding a book.
Whenever I find a gap in my knowledge, my first stop is Amazon and purchasing at least three books on the topic I’m curious about (that’s how you end up with almost 3,000 books in your house).
In my experience, knowing or having met several hundred coaches and consultants over the years, the single biggest gap in their knowledge has got to be business financials, and a close second would be uncovering bottlenecks in a business.
So today, I’m going to recommend some books to help you understand the things that make a business “tick.” If a company’s numbers are bad, the best marketing won’t help. If they’ve got bottlenecks, increasing sales will only compound the problem.
Understanding these things are vitally important to the Six-Figure Coach, so here are some resources to help you:
The Road Less Stupid: Advice from the Chairman of the Board; and
The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business
by Keith J. Cunningham
If you want to know the nuts and bolts of business, these selections would be my first go-to books, especially for coaches who have come out of the corporate world and haven’t owned businesses themselves. There is a huge difference between working in a business and owning one, and by business I mean one with staff – not just me, myself and I. I believe it was the late great Gary Halbert of copywriting fame who once said: “Never trust anybody who hasn’t had to make payroll!”
Cunningham is one of those guys; he has owned businesses, invested in a business, been bankrupt and been wildly successful. He tells the good with the bad, leaving no stone unturned to make you successful in your business – or in the case of the business coach, he will give you the tools to serve your clients well. Remember, if you can’t recognize or diagnose the problems, you sure as hell can’t help anybody fix their problems.
He has taught a program called the 4-Day MBA for years and based on his books, I expect he can distill the most important parts of an MBA into that time frame. His books focus on real-world mistakes and how to fix them, or at the very least – learn from them. He delves into dashboards, KPIs, finances, decision-making, you name it. And if any of those terms left you scratching your head, get and read these books.
For extra points, if you’ve got a client looking to raise capital or cash out of his business, get Cunningham’s third book: Keys to the Vault: Lessons From the Pros on Raising Money and Igniting Your Business.
From a purely selfish perspective (that of you the coach), negotiating a back-end fee arrangement that might include a percentage of sales, a piece of equity or a chunk of the selling price will be a lot easier if you know what to look for in finding ways to improve the business! I know that we often think the easy answer is to increase leads and lead conversion – and that may well be the case, but not always, so you need to be able to tell the difference.
Information Dashboard Design; and Show Me The Numbers
by Stephen Few
Okay, I admit it. This topic is dry as dirt in the hottest, driest part of Death Valley, but it can be an incredible tool for a great coach to have in their toolbox.
One of the biggest problems faced by business owners is data overwhelm – they often don’t know what to look for in their numbers. If they don’t know what to look for, they certainly can’t find it. For another business that I’m involved with we also had a new operational dashboard installed, which has been absolutely excellent so well worth getting if you use an operational dashboard.
What if you could help them create a roadmap to their most important numbers? Think that might make you valuable? What if, after you’ve shown them how to track their numbers, you can easily show them the improvements you’re helping them achieve? Think that will help you stay valuable?
Use these books, take a Udemy course, team up with an Excel Spreadsheet whiz and put Information Dashboards into your offerings. It’ll pay you lots of dividends. (Perhaps you can create a dashboard to track those results!)
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
Almost unbelievably, this book is written in the format of a novel, and it has sold more than 6 million copies! While occasionally dry and somewhat corny (James Bond it’s not), this book will take you on a journey that will have you seeing things differently in almost any business.
Goldratt is an expert in many management theories, but particularly the theory of constraints. A business’s growth can be hampered by many things, some of which we may never think of unless we learn to think differently.
For example, the business owner thinks sales are their problem, so you improve their sales – only to discover that production can’t keep up. Oops! Or production is pumping out blue widgets when the world wants red.
Those are very simplistic examples, but sometimes the problem may be as simple as that. Maybe the business needs to invest in personnel, not sales. Maybe production is fine but the business needs more people on the support lines for implementation.
Help a client find their true bottleneck and their business could boom in short order.
Fail to help them identify the correct problem and you could find yourself looking for a new client in an even shorter time frame.
About Ben Pritchett
Ben Pritchett started his first business at the age of 15, and began his own consulting practice in 1991. For over 25 years he has worked with clients in many industries including restaurants, direct sales, software development, tourism, dimension stone (granite quarrying and manufacturing), aviation, and optometry, just to name a few. Companies coached by Ben have nearly doubled and tripled their revenues in a single year.