I see this a lot -- businesses that hire a coach or other third party to come in and "fix things." They meet with these experts for a few months, their process is analyzed, their day-to-day flow critiqued and, at the end, the coach gives feedback and suggestions for improvement -- areas that could flow better, ways to be more profitable, things that could be cut altogether. They are also shown the possibilities that exist if they can learn to manage the process and how it directly affects the bottom line.
I'm not talking about cutting benefits to employees or reducing staff or lowering quality. I'm talking specifically about process and procedure improvements.
Business owners sit through these meetings and get excited about the possibilities and opportunities, their eyes glazed over by dollar signs and visions of an earlier retirement. Managers dream of the bonuses the improvements will earn them.
But reality strikes when the business coach begins to highlight specific areas that need change. I've sat through this time and again, where business owners and managers are on board for the results change can bring, but they are not on board with the very changes that would yield those results.
Remember the well-known saying: "Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is a form of insanity."
One of the most often-heard excuses for not implementing change is "How do we know this will work?" or, put differently, "Isn't there a risk in making a change?"
Well, yes. Owning a business is in fact a risk -- every transaction carries some risk. And while it is clear that the way you are, and have been, running your business isn't working (because cash flow is tight, you're losing customers, you have high employee turnover, and so on,) what is not clear is why you continue to be committed to those same practices that continue to fail.
Sure, making changes is a risk. But so is doing nothing. So the question isn't, "Do we take a risk?" But rather, "do we take the risk of staying this same route, a route we know won't improve our position or do we take the risk of making changes that at least have the possibility of producing results?"
The good news: you can always go back or make changes again if the changes you implemented don't yield the hoped-for results.
Simply spending money on a business coach and then failing to take any action is never going to bring results. You can spend as much money as you'd like trying to get someone else to solve your problems, but nothing is going to change until you, the owner or the manager, create and allow change to take place.
You can't buy change. You have to create it.
Kim Bowsher started her management track at the original Starbucks in Seattle. She moved on to helping small businesses, putting to work the lessons she learned in the coffee business. She currently works with a private firm in Salt Lake City. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.