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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

I Prefer Small Fish

london-business-coaching-small-fish-big-business-mindset

Someone at an event I was at the other day said to me, “Yeah I have a very small business but we’re in a specific niche. We’re a big fish in our circles,” he stated quite proudly.

And this was the clue that told me why he wasn’t experiencing the kind of growth that I achieve (and guarantee!) for my clients.

You see, to me saying he was a big fish told me, yes, he had a business that was doing well, but he also said he had a small business – and was claiming to be a big fish “in his circles”.

The implication was he was a big fish in a small pond. But a big fish in a small pond is no big fish at all – it’s just a small fish that is keeping its sights small.

What would have been more inspiring to me was if he said, “We’re a growing business. We’re doing well, but there’s a big ocean out there and we’re still small fish.”

What this would have immediately indicated to me is that while they are humbly realistic about their current size (or their perception of thier current size), they are clearly successful, and have direction, ambition, and the desire to grow. That is what is called having a ‘big business’ mindset – and business owners with that mindset are the ones that get the most out the business coaching strategies I use.

The interesting thing is, as a business coach in London over the last 9 years, I have heard business owners label themselves as “small” many times. Often, these “small businesses” actually have the potential to be (or, in fact, already are) very successful and could achieve impressive growth if they implement the right kinds of tools and growth strategies.

Mindset can be a significant and difficult barrier in business. If you think of yourself as a “just a small business” – or even as a “big fish in our pond” – then you are always going to remain that way. To start achieving the growth that you might consider impossible at the moment, you have to take up Adidas’s slogan and start believing that really, impossible is nothing!

Escape the Small Business Mindset

While it has since been disproved that a fish somehow grows to the size of their tank, what we do know is that a fish has the ability to continuing growing throughout their entire lives or be stunted under certain conditions.

Basically, it is the way you care for your fish that affects how large it grows. Your company is very much like a fish in this regard.

If you keep a fish in a small pond, you’re going to provide it with the kind of conditions that end up keeping it to that size of the pond. So if you constantly think of your company as a small company, or that it only can only remain in the small pond it is currently in, you are keeping it in conditions that are stunting its growth.

A reasonably subtle tweak in your mindset – and you could say, the business’s mindset – can change all that. Instead of saying that you are a small business, think of yourself as a growing company that is always learning, adapting and evolving in order to become a bigger business.

Put yourself in the whole ocean, not just a pond, and give yourself the room to be even larger than you already are.

Become the Big Business in Training

Instead of calling yourself ‘just a small business’, think along the lines of a ‘big business in training’. By doing so, you will start to see your planning sessions and business decisions in a new light. As you set yourself targets and decide what needs to be done with the mindset of aiming to become a big business, you will likely find that a light now shines on the opportunities to take you there.

And you will attract the kind of training and business mentors that will be looking to help you as you leave the comfort of the anemone and teach you how to take on the big ocean currents.

The fact is, the simple act of preparing for growth can actually cause this expansion to happen. Not only are you then ready to become that larger fish, but you are also the direct cause of your own growth! It’s like the anti-thesis of a vicious cycle.

Achieving growth in London, or any city in this world for that matter, is no mean feat, but you are the person who can make it happen. Your drive took your business to where it is – now it’s time to change up the conditions and drive your business out into the open sea to grow even bigger and stronger!

So, let me give you something to achieve at your next networking event. When someone asks you to tell them about your company, say something along the lines of, “I’m running a big business in training.”

Ghandi told us that thoughts become words and words become actions. Start thinking of yourself as a big business, and start talking about yourself as a big business, and then watch as you start taking the actions to become a fish that rivals even the blue whales of the world!

Ready to swim the ocean?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWhen you realise that you’re actually a big business in training – a small fish that has such potential to grow – then it can be useful to have someone help you find the right currents to ride. Book a no-obligation strategic review of your business and we’ll help you point out the ways you could be growing bigger than you already are.    

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What is the Opposite of Fear?

When I first asked my son this question, he picked “Courage”, “Strength” and “Determination.”

While these are all correct answers, there is something else that I put at the other end of the spectrum from fear.

In this video, I explain how I have now developed my own thought around this and how that has translated to the one powerful practice I have for myself and recommend to our clients to keep a positive state of mind and pursue peak performance.

This is one of those Mindset Principles that are critical to becoming the kind of business owner that can stimulate exceptional growth in your business.

Most people spend an inordinate amount of time fighting or succumbing to the realities of the present. They battle every day against the immeasurable amount of negativity outside and inside themselves. Unfortunately, they often do this without ever directly facing the realities that these fears and negative talk exist.

Whether it’s about being able to deal with pressure, developing ownership of your confidence or understanding the elements of the iceberg that help form your identity, it’s really important to understand that hard work is not enough and you must work on your “being” and not just your “doing”.

Successful people realise that they are ultimately responsible for creating a positive and driven environment for themselves – an environment where they are creating positive energy and affirmations for their own inner self.

The action I’ve explained in this video is something you can do at the end of each day. It doesn’t take more than 30 seconds but makes a huge difference to how you end the day, and how you start the following day.

This is a condensed version of the longer exercise I explain in my book, SPARKS (see below).

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

3 Gratitudes Before Bed

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group what I want to talk about today is something slightly personal. I want to talk about the question that I ask my 10-year-old every night just before he goes to bed. OK. So we have a ritual between mother and son. So I tuck him in give him a nice kiss on the forehead and then I ask him a question. And the question is.

“What are your three gratitudes for today?”

To which he smiles and he gives me his three gratitudes which are different every day. And then he smiles back and looks at me and says “What are your three gratitudes mum for today?” And I’ll obviously share my three gratitudes with him which I absolutely love doing because it helps me think about the whole day and actually the good things that have happened.

But this time last night actually my son asked me saying, “So mum you’ve been doing this and why do you do this? Like, what’s what’s the reason behind it?” And that made me think because I have to explain it to him in very simple terms as to why I’m doing this every night. And I just want to share this with you. Of course, you know you can and you should be doing this. It’s a very powerful thing with your loved ones with your kids and more importantly with yourself.

The Spectrum of Fear

Now the way I explain this to him and again, to myself because I like to keep things really simple, is that actually, this is a spectrum, a line. OK. And I said let’s divide this line in half. This is one side. This is the other side. This is the midpoint.

And on one side of the spectrum is something called fear. And I I asked my son saying “What is the opposite of fear? To which he said, “Courage.” I said, “Yeah. Courage, strength determination. These are all the right things.” But then actually. As far as I’m concerned and I was sharing my philosophy with him I said the way I see the spectrum is that on the other side is something called faith.

Why Faith is the Opposite of Fear

And why faith because. Fear is when your mind is projecting negative outcomes. You’re thinking of all the things which could go wrong, or can happen. Wherein in faith, your mind is projecting positive outcomes. There is no evidence for both the things. It’s just what you decide to project. Now if this is the midpoint. The choice that one needs to make is on which side of the spectrum. One needs to play the game or live life. And the number one thing that I have found for myself and for much for my clients for them to stay in the top state of mind and to project the positive outcomes because it’s weird. You know it’s wherever your mind is projecting it starts attracting more of that. And therefore one needs to be very conscious of that especially as a person who wants to achieve more as a person who wants to build a growing enterprise and add value out there. You have to be really really careful because what you’re focusing on is what you start getting more of. So the number one thing that I’ve found very useful in terms of being on this side of the spectrum is gratitude. It’s remembering.

Now if this is the midpoint, the choice that one needs to make is on which side of the spectrum does one need to play the game or live life.

And the number one thing that I have found for myself and for much for my clients for them to stay in the top state of mind, and to project the positive outcomes… because it’s weird; you know it’s wherever your mind is projecting it starts attracting more of that and one needs to be very conscious of that especially as a person who wants to achieve more as a person who wants to build a growing enterprise and add value out there. You have to be really really careful because what you’re focusing on is what you start getting more of.

The Number One Thing To Stay on the Faith Side

So the number one thing that I’ve found very useful in terms of being on this side of the spectrum is gratitude. It’s remembering that good things are happening and good things will happen. And consciously going through the good things which have happened to you and your life and it’s a simple question doesn’t take more than 30 seconds but makes a huge difference to how you’re ending the day and how you start your next day.

Finally, when I was explaining this to my son, I said right towards the end, on this side (the fear side) life happens to you. But on this side (the faith side) life happens for you. And he said that’s a change of prepositions.

I said yes. But it’s actually a huge change in belief system. And that’s what makes a difference because it all starts from what you believe in.

Order Your Free Copy of SPARKS

The Mindset exercise I’ve described here is a condensed version of a longer exercise that I explain in the first chapter of my book SPARKS. While the book does delve into other Mindset principles, I also give you further pieces on the 6 areas that I help businesses focus on in order to achieve growth sooner rather than later.

Use the button below to grab your free copy of the book – you only need to pay the shipping / handling costs!

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The Lesson from Tongues in Tennis

You may be wondering what on earth tongues and tennis have to do with business coaching. One of the big differences between business coaching and business consulting can be that business coaches will teach business owners the how and why of important business actions and concepts – so that you can make the right decisions – whereas a business consultant often will just lay out the work that needs to be done.

One of the snippets of teaching I recently delivered involved an anecdote about tennis players Andre Agassi and Boris Becker…

You see, earlier this year, Agassi told the press about a bizarre-yet- crucial observation that had enabled him to defeat Becker (whom he had lost against in all three of their previous matches) from 1990 onwards. He had spotted that Becker’s tongue gave the player’s game away every time.

Whenever Becker was about to serve, he would unconsciously poke out his tongue as he tossed the ball into the air. Agassi had realised that every time Becker’s tongue went to the left side of his mouth, he would serve the ball wide; if it stayed in the middle, he would keep the ball in the central parts of the court. This subtle tick meant that Agassi was able to adapt his game accordingly and stay one step ahead of his rival in crucial moments. However, he had to also keep a fine balance so that Becker didn’t cotton on to his discovery! In the next 11 games, Becker achieved just one victory – with Agassi taking the glory for the other 10.

So what on earth has this got to do with business? Well, there are two major learnings to be had from Agassi’s revelation.

Lesson 1: Who is Helping Watch Your Plays?

Agassi learned about the tick that was the source of Becker’s downfall by carefully analysing Becker’s game and realising that this was a chink in his armour. Really, Becker’s coach should have been watching Becker’s game and identified this as a flaw in his game.

As a business owner, you could be Becker, and Agassi could potentially be your competitors. So who is helping you make sure that you aren’t giving away your next move? Who is checking your business for the holes where you could trip up, or the gaps where you are missing an opportunity to hit that metaphorical ball in the right direction?

Lesson 2: Are You Watching Your Competitors Closely Enough?

On the flipside, you should be keeping a close watch on your competition, so that you can match their moves and stay one step ahead at all times.

In my business coaching, I am frequently reminding clients that it is not enough to focus just on what they are doing as a company – they need to be acutely aware of what other businesses are doing, and keep on top of what the market is responding to. This is crucial to achieving growth and winning market share.

By sussing out the ‘Beckers’ of business, and identifying their weak points, you could develop growth strategies that are as strong, forward-thinking and undefeatable as Agassi.

Are you on top form in your game?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionSo many London business mentors and coaches are talking about how they can help you play a better game in business – the metaphor is definitely apt.

Book a free strategic review with us and find out how we can help be that real ‘coach’ in your business, and help you train to be harder, better, faster and stronger!

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A Boy Walked Into the Business Excellence Forum…

The London Coaching Group team, along with most of our clients, attended the Business Excellence Forum and Awards (BEF) last month – and our group took away 38% of the accolades.

The event was not just about awards, but also about coming together with over 1000 entrepreneurs and their coaches to learn from some notable figures. Among others, these included influential authors Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Professor Steve Peters, as well as inspirational entrepreneurs such as Baroness Michelle Mone.

One of my clients, Stephen Reynolds from the award-winning Christmas Tree business Evergreen Christmas Trees (which took away a finalist award on the night for Best Marketing Campaign) has one of the youngest team members I have ever had the opportunity to coach. At just 14 years old, Stephen’s son Alfie Reynolds helps his father and older brother in the family-run business, and is clearly a bright and motivated young man.

Given my interactions with him, I knew that he would get a lot from the BEF so I extended an invitation to him to join his family at the event.

He was likely one of the most engaged people at the conference, and in the video below, he explains what he got out of the two days of talks…

The experienced entrepreneur may not find anything revolutionary in Alfie’s top learnings. However, you can see how invaluable it was for him to immerse himself in this environment to fuel his entrepreneurial drive.

Alfie proves that it’s never too early to start laying the foundations for becoming a great business owner.

You might want to ask yourself now – when was the last time you consciously put some effort into your business education?

Alfie has started investing in his business education already – and he’s already booked in for the 2018 Business Excellence Forum!

What can you commit to learning before this time comes around next year?

Ready to Kickstart Your Learning?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionA large part of business coaching is about education – or ‘re-education’. Part of learning is finding out what you don’t know that you don’t know.

When we sit down with you for a complimentary strategy session, we take a close look at you and your business before you arrive and identify areas where you could improve – completely obligation free.

Why not find out where you could be doing even better than you already are?

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Super Achievers Are Incompetent

Most business owners feel some sort of pressure or stress from their business. Most of my clients feel the pressure because the business is growing and moving forward, so there is a strain they have to deal with.

How one deals with that pressure is the key distinction between those who achieve more and those who constantly struggle with no results.

The model that I share in this video is one that helps to explain where that pressure comes from, and also how to deal with that pressure.

It all has to do with how aware you are of your incompetence…

When you start to recognise the areas where you can go to a new level and that you don’t know everything – finance, marketing, sales, team management, planning etc. – then you can start to work on that area.

And then when you feel that growing pain – and you are conscious of the result you are gaining from that pressure – you can actually start to enjoy it as you take your work to the next level.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi, this is Shweta from the coaching group. We want to talk about today is something called pressure. You might have heard of it or you might be familiar with it. Now the point is that when you are running a business there’s always a pressure. Pressure could be from the growth of the business or the lack of growth in the business. Now most of my clients they feel pressure because their business is growing, it’s moving forward and therefore they can feel the strain in their team management side of things sales, marketing, planning, you name it.

Pressure Always Exists

So recently last week some of my clients actually verbalize it and they’re like, sure, I’m feeling the pressure because it’s the core trend it’s the march right? So I’m like that’s good. That’s really good. That was my instant response. That’s really good that you’re feeling the pressure, because pressure always exists, but how you deal with the pressure is the key distinction that one needs to make.

The Key to Dealing with Pressure

What I did was I shared with them this model, because that helped them understand why there is pressure and therefore also gave them a perspective of how they need to deal with that pressure. And I’m really hoping it will help you as well. You might be familiar with this, but let’s let’s just pay attention to this once again, understand the fundamentals. Now, in business or in life if you think about it there’s some something called unconscious incompetence. It’s like a four year old kid who might not know that he or she does not know how to drive a car.

Conscious & Unconscious Incompetence

Right, so unconscious about the fact that the person is incompetent in driving a car. Then as the kid starts growing, you realize that there is this conscious incompetence.  The kid understands that a 12 year old or 11 year old wants to actually drive that car, because the person knows it is not allowed to drive a car, and does not know how to drive the car.

Now at the right age then, this person starts learning how to drive the car and think of your days when you started learning how to drive that car. You know you can, you’re so conscious of everything every movement on the road, holding on to the gear. It’s like changing the acceleration, changing the gear. It’s like if you’re in every maneuver, this light maneuver looks so stressful and magnified and you’re present in that moment. And you can feel the pressure, the strain on your body by the time you finish it off. That drive was finished.

Now think about when you are so comfortable driving you could listen to the music, could change the channels. You know you could look around comfortably, maybe reach out to your coffee mug. You can do these things because there is this unconscious competence which is sitting there.

Now let’s bring that analogy to the business. So when business owners are working on their business, take an example when my client is working with me, clearly they are not in the zone. Although there are a lot of business owners out there who are in a state of denial. They don’t even know that they’re incompetent in many areas and it’s totally unconscious effect. Sometimes a blissful state, but not really a good situation for the business. Once the client is in this zone where they understand that there is the next level for them and they don’t know everything, they want to become better in lots of areas like, as I said, sales, marketing team, systemization planning, finance, you name it. They are humble enough to say “I need to learn here.”

Building that Conscious Muscle

This is where, for example, I come into the picture. My team comes in the picture. And the client is actually working on that in that area. This is where they are. This is the muscle that they are actually building consciously, they’re becoming competent. But think about the strain that you felt when you were learning to drive that car. It’s the same scenario. You’re conscious of everything, you’re testing and measuring and applying different things. The business is growing, which strategy will work or will not work. The team is expanding and therefore you feel that growing pain in your business. Now. It’s very easy to kind of say “Oh it’s too much” but again I’m very lucky to have clients who are absolutely willing people who want to see through it and want to have breakthroughs in their business.

Enjoying Pressure

I think they enjoy pressure to a large extent because they know that it’s a pressure of the growth. It’s taking them to the next level. And then they reach here, which is beautiful. Unconsciously they are becoming Camberton in lots of areas things which were difficult become easy for them become very natural second nature. And then once again I’m coming into this picture. By the way, even this picture is where we are working with a client, but this is where again what we say is that come on let’s redefine your next level, let’s redefine. What are the next areas where you know you’re not still there, and it will help you achieve even more, become even better. What does that next level?

And then for the business owner on schist see defines the next level of incompetence, works on it, comes to this level and this level and therefore it’s a constant cycle. And that’s what super achievers do. They don’t just reach out and say “Yeah I’m done.” There’s always a next question saying “What’s next?”, “What’s my next level of competence which I need to build?” And therefore I want you to understand is that if you’re too comfortable in your business, either you are here or you are here.

For me they are dangerous zones. The areas that you need to be in are these and these. And if you are in these two areas of growth, then the pressure is bound to happen, but how you deal with that pressure is the distinction between average people and super achievers.

Think these frameworks could be useful?

These are the classic sort of frameworks that we use to help our clients to put their work in a light that makes sense, and ensures they are focused on real, sustainable growth.

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Best Business Books to Read: American Icon

This is a book that the New York Times has called a “compelling narrative that reads more like a thriller than a business book.”

It describes how one of America’s most established companies turned around from its death throes in the mid-2000s and restored itself into a modern, sustainable and profitable business in the modern world.

This is not your standard management book where they take you through step-by- step a structure that you can apply as well. Instead it is an engaging tale of how maintaining and growing profitability has to come alongside the development of company culture and closely managing how the teams within your business work.

If you are looking for a read that will inspire you on bringing a new level of leadership to your business then American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman is a book to read.

Alan Mulally’s struggle to restore the seminal automaker, Ford Motor Company, to growth and profitability is a real page turner and absolutely stuffed with learnings for business leaders of every sort.

Want more direct advice?

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Reserve your place at the online event and show up to discover the strategies we’ve been using to reliably and predictably grow businesses over the last decade.

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Our previous top business books recommendations:

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