How to Coach an Entrepreneur

What are the common traits of an entrepreneur?

The entrepreneur is a different animal to your average coaching client. They are futurists and have the capacity to see opportunities where others cannot. They are highly creative and are strategic thinkers. They operate best free of constraints. They are impulsive and risk takers. The opportunity will often outweigh the risk. Their impetuosity and spontaneity often leaving a trail for others to clean up. They love to have multiple ideas or projects on the go. They thrive on starting things and can quickly become bored. They often work best alone. They move at a rapid pace. They may experience frustration if those around them cannot keep up.

What common mistakes do coaches make with entrepreneurs?

Don’t try to change them or slow them down

Successful coaches appreciate the entrepreneur for who they are and don’t try to change them. Let them run and get out of their way. Watch and learn. They move at such rapid pace they may omit to consider risks or challenges. Help them expand their thinking, use brainstorming techniques, run scenarios, add clarity and detail to the vision, identify blind spots.

Preserve balance and sustainability

In their haste the entrepreneur may neglect basic aspects of their lives, eg diet, exercise, relationships, birthdays. Watch out for sustained periods of neglect. They are optimists and masters of illusion. Look for hidden signs of stress. The entrepreneur has the capacity to make small things big things – both opportunities and problems. Call it gearing. A good coach will realise this and role-play whatever role is appropriate. This is an art.

Respect their creativity and risk threshold

Entrepreneurs have a high threshold for risk. Accept it and work with them. You may need to be the flexible one. Their tolerance for risk, not yours, should determine the basis for strategies and objectives. Entrepreneurs love to brainstorm ideas. They also love to talk. So, let them. Coaching is about listening. Entrepreneurs want someone to listen and respond enthusiastically to their ideas. They seek positive reinforcement.

What advice would you give to public practitioners dealing with entrepreneurs?

Much of the above is also true for the professional advisor. There is one basic distinction. True coaches will not give advice. They will facilitate self-discovery through questioning techniques. Professional advisors such as accountants are expected to give professional advice. They are subject matter experts and required to interpret the law and share their knowledge. Remember entrepreneurs are the decision makers so offer them your considered opinion and let them decide. Give them options.

Be proactive

Entrepreneurs move fast. They subject themselves to risks and make frequent decisions. They do not and cannot know everything. They place a premium value on astute professional advisors who can give them considered opinion proactively and foresee scenarios or risk exposure they cannot.

Be accessible and responsive

When entrepreneurs want an answer they want it now. They make rapid fire decisions and have short concentration spans. They don’t want to dwell on the detail. Big picture, clear guidance, fast turnaround.

Service focus

Tune into what your client wants. Take time to learn how they tick. Be flexible with your communication style to accommodate your client. They talk fast, you talk fast. They want succinct information, give it to them. They want options, run scenarios. They expect you to be there when they need you not return my call two days later.

Questions are the answers

Learn how to listen. Learn how to ask powerful questions. The techniques of a skilled coach are just as relevant for an accountant or sales professional. Ask open questions, eg what, where, when, how. Practise questioning techniques such as probing, clarifying, paraphrasing, summarising.

Restate commitments

Once you have reached agreement with your client, repeat it back to them for clarity, “So, it is my understanding that you want me to submit your tax return by Monday, 31 July, is that correct?” or “My expectation is that you will sign and return the contract to me by Wednesday, is that reasonable?”

Real-time information

Nothing irritates an entrepreneur more than old information. Time is money. They want both lead indicators (prospects, conversion rates, average sales, purchase frequency) and lag indicators (customers, sales, profits) in their management reports. Sales pipelines are essential management information.

System and structure

The entrepreneur needs system and structure. They often aren’t the best person to deliver it. That’s why they hire a coach, personal assistant, consultant or accountant.

Coaching an entrepreneur is an exhilarating and rewarding experience. It can be a roller coaster ride and is never a dull moment. Supporting them in your role as a public practitioner can be just as rewarding. So, get yourself ready and hang on for the ride of your life.

How Do You Protect Your Information Products? Part 1

We infopreneurs (information entrepreneurs) are a breed apart in the publication industry. We specialize in making money with information products and at the same time we give away a lot of our information products. We know that free stuff sells stuff. We have learned that lesson well.

All profitable infopreneurs usually give away products to build an “opt-in” mailing list. They then use this mailing list and the permission granted by the opt-in system to sell, up-sell, and to build a marketing funnel that lets them sell increasingly higher priced products to the same clients.

We qualify our freebies by insisting that redistribution of these information products be distributed with all our identifying information and links back to us. We want to freely give but always expect ultimately to profit while helping others.

After all, infopreneurs are information entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs expect to make money. So, how do we balance creating widespread availability of our products with some degree of protection?

With printed books (as opposed to digital books), two methods are used to identify and protect the author’s rights.

  1. Copyright is the first method. It protects the rights of the author and restricts the product’s use and dissemination by others. It protects the specific expression of ideas but cannot protect the actual facts and ideas. Copyrights are used for protection of both written and electronic information products. Placing a copyright symbol, the date of the copyright, and the owner of the copyright on hard copies or digital works provides the first line of defense against someone using your work as their own. I suggest that you place a copyright notice with the date of production even on your drafts. It provides one more piece of evidence of your authorship if a question of authorship arises later.
  2. Registration of an information product by the author through nationally and internationally recognized “serial” (identification) numbers provides a second line of defense. These include ISBN numbers (for books); ISSN numbers for periodicals (both printed and electronic); and ESN’s (for electronic media). These three are not the only “serial” numbers in use, but are the most common ones. Each provides some degree of protection for the author by registering the information product under the publisher or author’s name.

You are not required to have a copyright or any other type of identification number on your publications, but not having one is an open invitation to unscrupulous readers to steal your works.

Electronic Compass – How to Use the Internet As an Information Marketer

You have probably started your information marketing business and done all the requisite work. You created a web site, a blog, and a weekly e-newsletter. Now people are sending you e-mails asking about your information product. Your view of computers has gone from anger and frustration to calm and ease. You are now a digital pro, right?

Well, almost.

Like learning to drive or play sports, it never hurts to know about some of the roadblocks that exist out there.

Here are a few online issues to be aware of if you’re an information marketer:

Read absolutely everything: Now, I know what you are going to say next. “Everything…?!?” I understand: there is so much content on the Internet these days that the temptation to just pass over certain paragraphs of text is always at the front of your mind. But, especially if you’re conducting your own business online, you must be sure to read absolutely everything, especially legal material. Make copies of the content pages and save them to your hard drive for further reference. In this case, it is truly better to be safe than sorry.

Avoid plagiarism: Remember your high school English or history class and those dreadful essay writing sessions? While they may bring back bad memories, the teacher was correct about one particular matter: copying other people’s work is wrong all the time. Again, you may feel the temptation to “borrow” content or graphics from other people’s web sites. But, like books and all other intellectual property, this stuff is copyrighted by the owner. Taking it without permission is illegal and can result in several legal penalties.

Know your contacts: You might have occasion to be offered a joint venture with another information marketer over an e-mail exchange. And if the deal sounds promising for both parties, by all means, go for it. But be sure to do some checking to see if the company and/or marketers are legit and the company is sustainable. Do not waste time on people who are not as interested as you in doing good business. As well, one small problem with the Internet is that it is poor for face-to-face conversation. Don’t be afraid to offer to meet your potential partner for coffee and discussion.

Be frugal: A lot of flashy online entrepreneurs will make you an offer for a package or computer tool. Again, do your research. Don’t spend money on something that may be a waste and may not benefit your business.

Keep your host and provider phone numbers handy: If your Internet connection doesn’t work or your web site is down, make the necessary calls to remedy the situation. This is your business and it can’t function if your business tools don’t function

An elderly farmer friend of my dad’s family used to put it eloquently: “Those bloody things are just over-hyped typewriters.” While he was being, well, a tad crass, his stance was a good one. The computer and the Internet are really just tools. Knowing how to utilize them can only help your business succeed.