Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Starting Up A Small Business Using Business Coaching

Starting up in business tends to generate both positive and negative emotions.

On the one hand you feel excited, enthused, passionate and positive about making it happen. On the other you feel daunted, overwhelmed by the amount of work involved and lonely if you are on your own in your venture.

What can you do to best manage yourself and your resources when setting up a small business?

I think the first thing is to remember why you are doing this - What is driving you to set up your small business?

Hopefully, you have conceived ideas about a service or services which you can provide to customers.

Next, I think you need to get organised, realistic and think about the costs involved in setting up your business.

Developing a business plan with support and guidance from an established and successful small business owner would be a good place to start - even better if their business is similar to yours.

Writing a business plan will help you to do your research and ensure you have a viable business proposition.

If you are on your own the next thing to do is to think about your network and resources which will help you to set up your business and get you through the challenging first few months.

It's a good idea to brainstorm and then prioritise all the tasks you need to do in order to set up your business, allocating realistic time-scales for completion.

Perhaps most important of all is to ensure you don't get completely taken over by your new venture.

How will you ensure that you have time to relax, time with your family and time with your friends?

Successful business owners tend to have some boundaries around their work since it is all too easy to get sucked in to working 24-7.

Many successful business owners I know agree that if work is all you do you will never be really good at it.

I have helped many small business owners - particularly in the early days - to build their confidence, get their services clear, market their services and secure paying clients.

If you have found this blog useful please do leave a comment or if you feel alone and want support with your business please get in touch via West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Customised Coaching

At the end of a coaching session yesterday when I had asked how my client rated the session, he talked about finding that the best thing he experienced in the session was reflection, something he thought that he rarely did amidst his busy work schedule.

Upon further probing my client highlighted specific areas of reflection that had enabled him to think about a particular old and outdated habit which was not serving him anymore.

What clients take away from sessions is completely unique and so what you take away from coaching will be unique to you.

The whole purpose of personal coaching is that it is tailored to you and you can customise it by developing your own ideas on what you want coaching on and the approach which you would like to use to find the answers.

In terms of what you want coaching on, this may be driven by your existing job role, skills, gaps, a particular work challenge, a promotion or working with a new team.

In terms of approach, you might favour non-directive coaching which focuses on posing the right questions and helping you come up with options and ultimately solutions which you own and act on.

Some clients do like some directive coaching - particularly for career coaching and skills acquisition - where the coach offers up ideas and suggestions.

The point is that you can customise your coaching to suit you. It truly is one of the few life experiences where you can selfishly focus on you and your development.

If you sense that there are areas in your life that you want to improve on and change then personal coaching could be for you.

If you think that this may be the case please read my other blogs in particular 'Are You Ready, Willing and Able To Be Coached?' which will provide you with further insight on the coaching process.

If you would like support on your coaching journey we would love to hear from you at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cash Crunch Coaching

Are you worried about money?

Whether you have increasing credit card debts, concerns about paying your mortgage or other bills, you are amongst an increasing majority as the economic crisis continues.

Where to start?

I have always been fascinated by money probably because growing up there was little of it. I relished programmes like 'The Bank of Mum and Dad' and Irvin Hall's 'Your Money or Your Life' and was fascinated by the people's spending habits.

I think that focusing on money and showing an interest in things financial is a good starting point.

Financial institutions are starting to get the idea that we want simplicity when it comes to finance and even pensions are set to become more straightforward in the short- to medium-term.

You can now even Google the best savings rates and set up an account online starting with as little as £1 - though you can set your goal at a level you can afford each month.

What about spending?

Well, online often is a good place to start and you may already know about MoneySupermarket.com which helps you to get the best deals on most things.

When I purchase anything over the Internet, I always go for free postage and free returns and check there is a telephone number I can call in case something goes wrong as emails can be ignored.

Spending what you do not need when you are down can be addictive so making a list of other things to do such as going for a walk with a friend or your dog or your neighbour's dog would be an example of a good distraction.

You may find it helpful to record what you spend for a month and then set a budget through finding areas where you can reduce spend. This monthly exercise will help you to see more clearly where you can cut back.

Quite recently a client of mine made a list of 'money saving rules' to keep her on track which include things like: 
  • Order tap instead of bottled water in restaurants
  • Don't buy takeaway coffee
  • Make a list that you stick to for the supermarket
  • Make your own sandwiches for lunch
  • Have 1 day a week where you do not touch your purse or wallet at all

In a difficult economic climate we tend to panic and feel out of control which makes it difficult for us to think straight making irrational thinking and mistakes more likely.

When you find it hard to see the wood for the trees do something that calms you down - go for a bike ride, watch a comedy, lie down with your eyes closed or take some extended breaths.

This will help you to calm down, see things more clearly and act in a more effective way.

If you have found any of this blog useful please leave a comment.

We also hope that you will visit our site for all your coaching and counselling needs at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Improving Your Thinking

How do you think that your core beliefs and 'rules for life' affect your thinking as events happen?

I was recently working with a client who in many contexts in life is positive, pretty flexible and easy going. Then she was involved in a serious non-fault car accident.

After the car accident my client experienced post traumatic stress symptoms including regular day and nigh-time flashbacks following which the same sorts of questions came up in her mind - 'How could that driver be allowed on the road?' and 'I cannot trust other drivers anymore'.

My client's relevant 'rules for life' relating to this were quite rigid e.g. only competent drivers should be allowed on the road - because of course this is not the case and despite the characteristics of the driver - including their being regarded as 'old' - this was a car 'accident'.

These rules for life and core beliefs were causing negative thinking and in turn negative emotions and communication whenever she thought about the accident and in talking with others.

This was reinforcing and compounding negative thoughts in her brain and eventually, unable to control these negative thought and emotions, she came to see me.

As well as negativity around the car accident incident my client had also started thinking about other negative experiences from way back in her life that had seen her rules and core beliefs undermined in some way.

We know that this is the subconscious mind's way of protecting us and causing a 'fight or flight response' - responding with the primitive response patterns of anger, anxiety or depression and sometimes two or even three of these.

Once we identified the contextual core beliefs and rules for life that were negatively impacting my clients' thinking she was able to develop more enabling beliefs and flex her rules in this area somewhat.

We then found that her awareness level negative automatic thoughts occurred less and less and within a few sessions she felt calmer about what had happened to her and wise having found out how her mind worked and how to manage and control it.

Anxiety, stress and feeling low or depressed are lonely disabling feelings which you do not have to bear.

If you would like support in addressing any emotions you are suffering with please get in touch via West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Self-Coaching: Making a Start

Are you new to personal coaching? Do you want to improve your life?

A good starting point is to have a go at coaching yourself using the following simple process.

First ask yourself the following question: 'What areas in your life are most important to you?' For example:
  1. Health and well-being
  2. Family Relationships
  3. Work
  4. Friends
  5. Finances
  6. Community
After identifying which areas are important to you, score your satisfaction with each area on a scale of 1-10 - where 1 is 'Most dissatisfied with' and 10 is 'Completely happy with'.

The rule here is to scale each area based upon your gut feeling towards them.

Having scored yourself, prioritise your list from 1-6 and if you want to have more than 6 areas that's fine.

For the next 6-or-so days work down the list and take one action which raises your scaling by 1 point.

For example, if your top priority is health and well-being and you scored yourself a 4, what action could you take today to raise that scaling score to 5?

An answer could to this question could be to eat a healthy meal for supper or go for a walk for an hour.

After this period give yourself a week off, then repeat the exercise and until you are consistently achieving a self-scaling of 8, 9 or even 10.

You may not want a week off in between actions but it is there if you want it.

The idea of this self-coaching is that it is quite straightforward and most people find it quite easy to do.

Sometimes, however, motivation, goal setting and taking action require support and there's nothing wrong with that.

If you are some one who likes exercising with a partner, having a personal coach is a similar concept.

A personal coach will support, guide and challenge you to achieve often extraordinary results.

Please let me know how you get on with this exercise by leaving a comment and please visit our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Health and Well-Being Coaching

Are you happy with your weight, health and well-being?

I think you will agree that when it comes to change these are ones which a lot of people can relate to and are some of the hardest things to manage cognitively.

A coaching session with a client this week prompted me to write this blog and hopefully help you as well.

I think examining your current reality in the following 5 key areas can help you gain a massive insight into improving your health and well-being.
  1. How uncomfortable are you with your current health and well-being?
    Psychological and change research tells us that the more uncomfortable we are with our current reality the more likely we are to change it and take action.

  2. Do you have a key driver for improving your health and well-being?
    Research shows that if you have a key driver for losing weight you are more likely to achieve your goal.

    One of the most common is in preparation for a significant event such as a wedding or holiday.
  3. Do you have rules and beliefs about the world and yourself that impact your health and well-being such as 'I deserve a treat a day', 'I will always be fat' or 'I don't do exercise'? These rules and beliefs are often not talked about and lie deep within your subconscious mind.

    Sometimes they can be quite sinister such as 'you will never be able to cope without [insert favourite 'sinning' food]'.

    Often rules and beliefs are developed in childhood and are very ingrained by adulthood making them difficult to change.

    Have you also noticed that most socialising is centred on eating and drinking? The comfort hungry emotional mind tells us 'why should you miss out?'

    Of course we do not have to copy these choices and we do need to be mindful of what we really want.

    You know that when it comes to being healthy and well and achieving a healthy weight we need to eat less and do more.

  4. Mindfulness When you are eating really focus on what you are doing free of common distractions such as TV, reading, even talking.

    Also get into the habit of asking yourself 'how will I feel when I have eaten this?'

  5. Movement
    Discover moving activities that you find fun and 'just do it'. Aim to incorporate movement into your daily life rather than seeing exercise as a formal separate activity such as going to the gym.

    Could you walk/cycle part of your way to work, go for a walk at lunch time or do some sit ups whilst watching the news before supper?

We have nothing without our health and well-being and it's therefore top of the list in terms of what is important in your life.

If you want to improve your health and well-being and other aspects of your life through personal coaching please visit our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Change Your Career Direction With Career Coaching

The Career Coaching topic is one I have been working with several clients on recently.

Are you facing redundancy - voluntary or otherwise - or re-evaluating your work life? If so, career coaching will help you to focus on what you want specifically and what is realistic.

My clients recognise that without career coaching job searching can be unfocused, tiresome and ultimately lacking the outcome you really want - one of my clients referred to this as 'jumping from the frying pan into the fire'.

If you are uncomfortable about facing this journey alone or feel unfocused then coaching can help you with everying from eliciting your aspirations, through to recognising your transferrable skills, building your confidence and helping you to present an influential CV.

This is especially useful if you currently feel institutionionalised after having been in your current role for many years.

In particular, career coaching will help you to avoid the scattergun approach of simply applying for as many jobs as possible which is often unsuccessful because the recruiter detects this.

More than anything, changing your career can be a scary, lonely and challenging time but a good career coach can help to draw out your career objectives - which change throughout life - and help you to achieve them.

If you are facing redundancy, are demotivated in your current career or looking for a change of career direction please do get in touch via enquiries@westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk.

Whether you're being supported by your current organisation or self-funding we have programmes which are both effective and affordable.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Are You Ready, Willing and Able To Be Coached?

In the last blog post I wrote about the fact that coaching may not be what you need right now. 

How do you establish if this is the case? This blog is devoted to a short questionnaire which I use with clients and you can use to find out whether coaching is for you right now by simple answering YES or NO to each of the following questions.

Are you Ready?
  1. There is a gap between where I am and where I want to be     YES…..NO…..
  2. I have some time to invest in myself     YES…..NO…..
  3. I can keep appointments with myself to work on this material     YES…..NO…..

Are you Willing?
  1. I am fully willing to do the work required to get me where I want to go     YES…..NO…..
  2. I am willing to stop or change any limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviours that limit my performance and result     YES…..NO…..
  3. I am willing to give new things a go even if I am not 100% convinced that they will work     YES…..NO…..
Are you Able?
  1. Coaching is the appropriate intervention for the changes that I want to make     YES…..NO…..
  2. I have the patience to take consistent action towards my goal and drive for results     YES…..NO…..
  3. I have the desire to continually improve my performance     YES…..NO…..
  4. I have the support I need to make significant changes (e.g. organisation structure)     YES…..NO…..

If you answered No to 2 or more of these questions, you will need to make adjustments before any coaching you undertake can be effective.

However, if you are ready, willing and able and would like to achieve change quicker and more effectively than you think possible on your own, I would very much like to work alongside you.

To get in touch please visit our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Who is Coaching For?

A prospective client and I were discussing 'who is coaching for' this week.

Like any change that we conceive of in our life, there are a number of criteria which you need to meet before you can put you plans to change into action.

Perhaps most importantly, your current reality and situation has to be uncomfortable enough to make you want to change it.

It is also important to articulate - and specifically verbally, pictorially and in terms of our feelings - what you want to be, do and have that is different to now.

This helps you - often subconsciously - to think about how you might get to be, do and have what you want. In other words - what you choose to focus on helps you to get it.

For example, you may want to shed some weight because you are fed up of feeling unhealthy or haven't got the energy to play with your children.

You can articulate a specific goal in terms of what you will see and how you will feel when you have lost the weight - your mind will generate ideas for what you can do to achieve your goal.

Working with clients has taught me that the stronger your personal intent - not a boss or your partner's - to change the more likely you are to achieve your goal.

You can strengthen your intent to change by imagining what you want as a real possibility.

To return to the shedding weight the example, imagine yourself playing comfortably with your children will help to strengthen your intent and your motivation to act.

When you are at the start or in the process of change, you may also find it helpful to gain the support of a coach who will help you to stay focused by agreeing milestone objectives and challenging any barriers you have to achieving your goals.

Often before starting work with clients the individual completes a questionnaire - 'Am I ready, willing and able to be coached?' - so that they test their motivation to change, their intent and check they are not trying to achive someone else's goals.

If you have found this post useful and would like to make some changes at work, in your personal life or both, please get in touch via West of England Coaching ad Counselling.