Spending Review Cuts See Business Growth Service Axed and Spells the End of Business Coaching

Spending Review Cuts See Business Growth Service Axed and Spells the End of Business Coaching

Last week’s announcement came as a shock for small businesses, coaches and most painfully for the people who worked for BGS (who’ve been made redundant).

All of my private sector clients were on one scheme or another (Growth Accelerator, Leadership & Management, Growth Through Innovation, Design Mentoring, etc). As part of their business development, the plan was to migrate those clients onto a follow-on programme in the New Year. That can’t happen now.

But does it spell the end for business development coaching for small businesses? Or is there a Plan B?

There was a ‘time before funding’ when any intervention had to be totally commercial. i.e. it had to generate an acceptable return on investment (ROI). In fact, the decision has always been a commercial one – funding only sweetened the deal and improved the ROI (in my opinion)

So how do you know if working with a Business Coach will give you a return? We crunch the numbers. We look at what the challenges are, what good stuff would result when we fix them and then quantify that improvement – and as a factor of safety, probably halve that number. (We’ve quantified the improvements as £80,000; let’s halve that to £40,000; so can I afford to invest £10,000 over the next 12 months? Yes, I feel confident to do that (and get a 400% ROI); and I’m going to make sure we monitor and measure so that I know what return I’m getting!)

I appreciate that some things are harder to quantify than others but we should still make the effort. Here are 10 examples of improvements that are quantifiable:

How much extra profit do you have when we:

  1. Improve customer retention by a year?
  2. Improve our conversion rate of enquiries into spending customers?
  3. Improve our level of enquiries?
  4. Improve how much our customers spend with us?
  5. Improve the frequency our customers do business with us?
  6. Improve our margins?
  7. Reduce our overheads?
  8. Position our good clients to introduce us to other people we can serve?
  9. Improve the team’s productivity?
  10. Understand how profitable our clients are, sack off the unprofitable ones and focus on the most profitable ones?

There are good ways of doing all these things. But this is only a third of the game of business coaching (the ‘transactional’ or ‘outer’ game). Another third is you – drawing out your potential and developing you as a leader (the ‘transformational’ or ‘inner’ game). The other third is Accountability – making sure you follow through on your commitments and turn fine plans into actions and results.

When it comes to investing in anything, there may sometimes be the question of cash flow and affordability. Some of the financial benefits may not kick-in for a couple of months – sometimes longer – depending on what we work on. However, if cash is an issue, that’s what we work on first.

Coaching programmes normally work on a rolling monthly basis. The investment in the programme is spread and you have the option to bail out at any time.

Sometimes, a one-off session is sufficient to identify the key short-term tactics required and to give you the focus you need. When you’ve followed through on those actions, the results mean that in 3 months time we’re in a position to work together on an on-going basis. (Remember Planning Day on Wednesday 13th January 2016!)

From a Business Coach’s perspective, we want to see your investment covered off for the next 12 months as fast as possible. We can then draw breath and have the choice to work on some of those longer-term issues and opportunities.

If you feel that you and your organisation has more to give, then drop me a line – the future begins today!

If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to close by recognising the guys I know at BGS who’ve (in my opinion) done a cracking job over the last few years – thank you. Some have become friends and I hope we’ll stay in touch. They’re resourceful and I know they’ll find themselves suitable new opportunities in the New Year.

Mark Dyble