The “Now What? Situation” for a business owner

Over the last two years I have been coaching a number of business owners that reached a point in their business when things were OK, they were working in the business that started months or years earlier and, like many others, started asking themselves what to do next.  Some of them lost some of their initial enthusiasm because of a number of different reasons; others wanted or needed to move their business to the next level and they were lacking the necessary skills or inspiration.

This is what I define the Now What? Situation, affecting at some point most business owners. The Now What? Situation can have serious repercussions for those that fail to react or, better, prevent it and take the necessary steps at the right time.

Starting a business in the UK is relatively easy, compared to other areas of Europe where I have direct experience, thanks to the minimum bureaucracy involved.  Most individuals with an idea for a service or a product to sell can start trading in a fast and straightforward way.

“Small businesses are over a quarter of all enterprises in the UK: over 520 thousand enterprises in 2009 were Sole Proprietors.  That represented a small decrease of 0.4% compared to 2008, in favour of Corporate Business, representing 58.2% of total enterprises (2.15 million)” (source  Statistics.Gov.Uk)

When the proposition is interesting and many customers are buying into the business then growth can be significant and soon the person with the initial idea and passion is no longer a service provider or product seller: he/she is an entrepreneur.  At the beginning things are exciting, there is a honey moon period that can last sometimes many months or even years. At the end of the bootstrap time there is a need to face a transition period that often catches the entrepreneur unprepared.

There are obviously substantial differences in running a business with you as the only decision maker compared to a company with partners, managers and staff.  Some key points to be addresses during the transition from the micro business and a larger operation are issues like:

  • How to grow: by recruiting staff or subcontracting?
  • When the decision is about recruiting how can you guarantee to look for the right kind of staff?
  • Can activities like admin, invoicing, book keeping and customer service be subcontracted to virtual assistants or other service companies?
  • Many people have no formal management experience: what is the best way of managing staff in order to maximise their skills and performance?
  • Does the business model need changing? If so how to plan and execute the change plan?
  • How to best implementing sales, pricing and positioning strategies?

Coaching can help virtually all business owners involved in a Now What? Situation.

The coaching approach offers a resourceful set of tools, a self directed learning approach that allows to build on the exact current situation, explore alternatives and pin down what needs to be done, establishing and instilling an accountability process.

When coaching a business owner it is very important recognising two key aspects:

  • Each individual person or business is unique in its way of being, operating and approaching the market: patterns and templates can be applied but a blank page approach is always easier to start with.
  • There will be strong emotional feelings about the business as it was initially started and resistance about how it should be changed for the future.

A business owner, working over a period of three or six months, assisted by a professional coach can be helped to define the exact path about how to move the business to the next level.  In short it is about changing a Now What? Situation into a Now I Know What should be done and I am doing it.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 18 May 2010

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Procrastination: a few coaching questions to help you moving on

Procrastination is a common issue that I encounter when working with solopreneurs and people running small businesses.  Procrastination can be defined as “putting off a pending task because of laziness, lack of interest” or different prioritization about what should be done.  Without a precise and well defined mechanism of accountability we choose tasks we like and keep delaying the ones we like less, and this can become a dangerous habit.  The effects of procrastination on many of my clients to date was initially to affect their performance at work then, increasingly, it was producing stress and other related diseases that eventually affected the physical health of some of them.

When clients are complaining to me about how procrastination is affecting their performance and ultimately their well being I am some times attempted to tell them to just get on with the pending tasks they are procrastinating.  That would be logical and easy but then, as a coach, I must (and I do) use a questioning methodology that is helping the clients’ thinking process and it helps them to see a way forward and commit toward the necessary actions.

Here are some of the questions that I use in these situations:

  • Is the completion of this pending task affecting other activities?
  • How often do you think about this pending task?
  • Is the completion of this pending task affecting other people?
  • How would you feel if you could tick this pending task off your list?
  • Do you feel guilty when you think about this pending task?
  • Is something stopping you from completing this pending task?
  • How much time per day/week do you spend thinking about this pending task?
  • Would you behave differently if you promised to complete this pending task to a colleague, client or supplier?
  • How can I help your thinking toward the best outcome for you?

The questions above are not in random order: there is no logical priority in using one before the other and I never needed to use more than 2 or 3 of them to move the client toward a commitment of completion by the following session.  I would usually choose the questions following the content of the conversation that led to the procrastination topic.

Next time you are procrastinating try reading the above questions and see whether they can help you complete your pending task(s) by tackling procrastination head on.

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This post was written by massimo on 8 January 2010

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How coaching can help your business

Massimo Gaetani during the workshop

Massimo Gaetani during the workshop

The workshop “Coaching Skills for Business and Life” (CSBL), organised by MaGa Coaching,  was held on the 2 December at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre and once more it exceeded the original expectations of both organisers and delegates.

CSBL was developed, targeting owners of SME and professionals, to cover three main areas:

  • essential coaching tools and techniques to address typical hurdles that can affect your smooth day to day business and can seriously hinder your performance at work.
  • hints about maintaining focus and motivation high, both in yourself and the people you are managing
  • basic understanding of how stress, frustration and anxiety develop and a hints about avoiding them

A total of 7 entrepreneurs from business as diverse as software development, electrical services and low power computer manufacturing attended CSBL.  They all had the opportunity, throughout the workshop, to share their key topics and address different aspects of their work. They all managed to learn some valuable methodologies to assess and improve the way they run their businesses.

The workshop was delivered by Massimo Gaetani, Business and Executive Coach and Managing Director for MaGa coaching. Massimo was once more very impressed by the motivation and determination that was driving the group: the level of participation to the workshop and the exchange of ideas was stunning throughout the whole duration of the workshop. He commented:

“we delivered dense and fast paced content, offering broad variety of concepts that for most people were totally new: given their responses and feedback all delegates received key information that will have a strong impact on the way they run their respective companies. Given the success of this workshop we are now planning others in 2010.  Once more we had the proof that these workshops are excellent tools to connect and engage in highly targeted conversations with our audience, while helping them to boost the way they run their businesses”.

Maga Coaching offers qualified expert coaching services in Cambridge, nationally and internationally: whether you are a solopreneur, a professional or manager in a SME you will benefit of the top quality expertise and bespoke service offered by MaGa Coaching.

Please have a look at the video with some of the testimonials:


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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 4 December 2009

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Another success for Make More Money While Working Less workshop

mmmwwl200911The Make More Money While Working Less (MMMWWL) workshop was held on the 11 November at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre and once more it exceeded the original expectations of both organisers and delegates.

MMMWWL was developed, targeting owners of SME and professionals, to cover two main areas:

  • essential business management tools to better understand and quantify how one’s company is doing, offering several alternatives about how to improve profitability and reduce working hours at the same time;
  • essential coaching tools and techniques to address typical hurdles that can affect the smooth day to day business and can seriously hinder one’s performance at work.

A total of 7 entrepreneurs from business as diverse as graphic design, car finance and building attended the workshop. The various delegates had the opportunity, throughout the workshop, to share their key topics and address different aspects of their work.  They all managed to learn some valuable methodologies to assess and improve the way they run their businesses.

The workshop was delivered by Massimo Gaetani, Business and Executive Coach and Managing Director for MaGa coaching. Massimo was once more very impressed by the motivation and determination that was driving the group: the level of participation to the workshop and the exchange of ideas was very high for the whole duration of the workshop.  He commented:

“the content we delivered was dense and fast paced, offering broad variety of concepts: although each person arrived with a clear starting point for their own business they all received key information that will have a strong impact on the way they run their respective companies.  Given the success of this workshop we are now planning others in 2010 while we are still collecting participants for the next one planned for December.   Once more we had a proof that these workshops are an excellent tool to connect and engage in highly targeted conversations with our audience, while helping them to boost the way they run their businesses”.

Maga Coaching offers qualified expert coaching services in Cambridge, nationally and internationally: whether you are a solopreneur, a professional or manager in a SME you will benefit of the top quality expertise and bespoke service offered by MaGa Coaching.

Please have a look at the video with some of the testimonials:


Posted under Events, News, Testimonials, Video

This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 16 November 2009

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Testimonial from Anthonine Arts-Zetteler

Testimonial left re: the workshop Make More Money While Working Less, October 2009:

Recently I attended MaGa Coaching’s workshop ‘Make More Money While Working Less’ and it was time well spent. Massimo clearly has a lot of knowledge on how to run a business and came up with very useful ideas and suggestions, presented in a fun and explanatory manner. Highly recommended for those who have just set up on their own and for those who have been going for a while.

Anthonine Art-Zetteler – Estate Planning Consultant

If interested in participating to our next workshops please have a look at our Events page.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 27 October 2009

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Two new exclusive workshops from MaGa Coaching

Please join us at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre on the 11 Nov 2009 and 2 Dec 2009 between 9:30 and 1:00pm for these exclusive workshops.  Each workshop will have a maximum of 12 participants so please book your place a.s.a.p. to avoid disappointment:

  • Make More Money While Working Less to address specific issues about how to better run a business and increase your profitability
  • Coaching Skills for Business and Life to learn how to better deal with various issues like motivation, procrastination, focus and direction.

MaGa workshops offer to all delegates the possibility of gaining hands-on experience on a broad range of topics.  The formula used by all of our workshops is to coach people toward the various topics explained rather being trained or lectured.

Please check our events page for more details book your place here.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 19 October 2009

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Make More Money While Working Less workshop: a success to be repeated

Copyright © Kristi Dunlap 2009The Make More Money While Working Less (MMMWWL) workshop was held on the 7 October at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre and it turned up to exceed its original expectations from several points of view.

MMMWWL was developed to cover two main areas, targeting owners of SME:

  • essential business management tools to better understand and quantify how one’s company is doing, offering several alternatives about how to improve profitability and reduce working hours at the same time;
  • essential coaching tools and techniques to address typical situations that create obstacles to the smooth day to day business and can seriously hinder one’s performance at work.

A total of 13 entrepreneurs and senior representatives from business as diverse as translation services, psychology consultancy, will writing and software development attended the workshop.  The various delegates all arrived with their key topics and were focusing on different aspects of their work: they all left with some valuable tools to improve the way they run their businesses.

The workshop was delivered by Massimo Gaetani, Business and Executive Coach and Managing Director for MaGa coaching.  Massimo was very impressed by the highly engaged and motivated group of delegates who were actively participating to the workshop for its whole duration.  He commented:

“we delivered a large amount of content and a broad variety of concepts: each person had obviously a different agenda but it was obvious that they were all receiving key information, very relevant for their business.  Given the success of this workshop we are now planning others for the coming months.  We are convinced that these workshops will become a standard tool to connect and engage in highly targeted conversations with our audience”.

Maga Coaching offers qualified expert coaching services in Cambridge, nationally and internationally: whether you are a solopreneur, a professional or manager in a SME you will benefit of the top quality expertise and bespoke service offered by MaGa Coaching.

Please read below some of the testimonials and watch the video:

“Massimo neatly sequences ideas for increasing revenue with identifying and dealing with obstacles to implementing them. He presents with enthusiasm throughout.  By the end of the workshop, I felt more confident and comfortable about increasing my income”

Graham House – Osteomyologists – Cambridge

“Coming away and reflecting from the workshop has been an extremely positive and thought provoking experience. Massimo has a very unique, interesting and easy understanding approach to coaching. He actively incourages a non traditional way of educating allowing the participant/s to form their own conclusions yet has the ability to provide guidance in a very contructive manner and is able to communicate a wide variety of topics and people”

James Stacey – Green Electrics – Kings Lynn


Posted under Events, News, Video

This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 15 October 2009

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Testimonial from Mark Sizer

Testimonial left re: the workshop Make More Money While Working Less, October 2009:

Great workshop, simple strategies that will help me run my business more efficiently, wish I had found Maga Coaching a couple of years ago when I was starting-out, would highly recommend it to any small business starting up.

Mark Sizer – Redlocks

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 13 October 2009

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11 questions to ask before hiring a business coach

More and more people are nowadays becoming accustomed to the idea that businesses can be coached and effectively helped to enhance their performance, in a broad range of business management areas.  As the market is still totally unregulated many people are defining themselves coaches overnight without feeling the need of proper training.  This could have serious consequences for you and your business if you happen to hire one of these cowboys.  So if you are considering using the skills of a business coach to help you and your business to be more successful I am listing here are some questions to assess his/her experience and credibility:

  1. what coaching qualifications do you hold?
  2. what can I get from my business while being coached by you?
  3. on what topics can you advise me about my business?
  4. what areas of my business can you coach?
  5. will I be coached on one area at a time?
  6. in what areas do you specialise?
  7. how long have you been coaching for?
  8. how many clients have you coached to date?
  9. have you coached a similar business before?
  10. what is your background before you started coaching?
  11. do you offer packages or do you charge on a on going basis?

Listed below are some acceptable answers you could be getting; your personal expectations will have a key role in deciding what is acceptable for you:

  1. I hold a Business Coaching Training Certificate from Results Coaching System” or “I qualified as a coach from the Coaching Academy”.  Anybody can start selling his/her services without really being a qualified coach: unfortunately many people are currently doing it.  Having a qualification from a recognised and respectable coaching training institution will guarantee you to be dealing with a real coach not just somebody who defines himself/herself a coach.
  2. anything realistically achievable that you are willing to commit time and resources to” or “it will depend on what you would like to achieve”: coaching will help you to move from a current situation to an expected, measurable and tangible  outcome.  In any case the coach cannot know, before hand, what your business needs; you are the only person that should be taking the decision about where your business should be going.  Feel sound suspicious if the coach speculates on the expected outcome.
  3. as a coach I don’t advise, I ask questions and help you to find your own answers”: coaching is all about asking questions and not advising.  A person that advises is not a coach but perhaps a mentor, consultant or trainer.
  4. business  coaching can help businesses owners to work on a broad range of areas, such as sales, marketing, operations, customer care, soft skills, conflict resolution, motivation, personal performance of individuals and teams: the question is… what areas would you like to be coached on?”: the main role for the coach is to inspire you on your decisions about what to do and ensuring that it gets done, ensuring accountability.
  5. I usually help my clients to set 2-3 goals in different areas to ensure of keeping them  fully engaged in the business coaching process: it can happen that certain weeks there will be more progress on one goal than another;  in any case you will be involved, nearly on a daily basis, in some activities that are about your progress toward your goals”: working on a single goal can be prone to times when no progress in being made and it can cause a drop in motivation.
  6. I work primarily with owners and senior managers of small and medium businesses that would like to boost their performance and take their business to the next level”: it’s always advisable dealing with somebody that has clear idea of a specific positioning for his job.
  7. “I have been coaching for 3 and half years, full time for the last 2”: coaching is a relatively new profession and the few top qualified coaches in the UK have been coaching for just a bit more that ten years.  Therefore 2-3 years experience can be considered a substantial and reliable level of expertise, particularly if supported by a serious business management background.
  8. I worked to date with 13 businesses and on average they increased their profits by 23% in 6 months
  9. yes, a company operating in the same field and with similar size and turnover” or “I have never worked specifically with companies similar to yours: nonetheless the fundamental of coaching and business management are the same”: while most people would expect the first answer to be ideal the second one fits perfectly a  coaching scenario.  If you consider that coaching is all about you and your business, without suggestions or advises, the hands on experience with a similar company is not as relevant as you might expect.
  10. I have over 15 years of management experience in junior, senior and board positions in small to large enterprises”: It is essential for a business coach to have some solid hands-on experience in running businesses in a senior role.  Ideally a mix of experience in different sectors and sizes of companies will help the coach to have a richer background that will enable him/her to be more adaptable to your business.  This kind of experience helps the coach to bond quickly and naturally with the client because they can speak the same business jargon.
  11. I offer several packages like business, executive and personal coaching based on 12 sessions developed over 3 to 6 months”: open ended contracts, where you start one day and don’t know when you finish, are reflecting the working methodology of therapists: they are also encouraging the coach to keep you engaged as long as possible in order to make more money off you.

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This post was written by massimo on 3 October 2009

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9 questions to ask before hiring a personal coach

coachCoaching has become a fashionable profession.  More and more people are now considering normal the idea that a coach can effectively help them to move from a current situation to an expected outcome within their life and business.  This new trend has also inspired many people to call themselves coaches while they are not.  So if you are considering hiring a personal coach to help your self development you could use the following questions to assess his/her experience and credibility:

  1. what coaching qualifications do you hold?
  2. what can I achieve from being coached from you?
  3. how can you advise me about my life?
  4. on what areas can you coach me?
  5. in what areas do you specialise?
  6. how long have you been coaching for?
  7. who are your clients at the moment?
  8. what is your background before you started coaching?
  9. do you offer packages or do you charge on a on going basis?

I will list below some acceptable answers you might get and that you can compare to your personal expectations:

  1. I hold and Intensive Coaching Training Certificate from Results Coaching System” or “I qualified as a coach from the Coaching Academy”: coaching is at the moment unregulated.  Anybody can start selling his/her time as a coach and unfortunately many people out there are currently doing it.  Having a qualification from a recognised training institution will guarantee you to be dealing with a real coach not just somebody who defines himself/herself a coach.
  2. Anything realistically achievable that you are willing to commit time and resources to” or “it will depend on what you would like to achieve”: coaching can help you to move from a current situation to an expected outcome.  In any case the coach cannot know before hand what you would like and can achieve from the coaching.  It should sound suspicious if he/she speculates on the expected outcome.
  3. As a coach I refrain from advising, I ask questions and help you to find your own answers”: coaching is about asking questions and not advising.  A coach that advises is not a coach but perhaps a mentor, consultant or trainer.
  4. “As a personal coaching I can help most individuals in a broad number of areas, such as personal performance, improving social, romantic and business relationships, parenting, weight management, finance, housing, project management, personal achievement, midlife crisis and motivation: the question is what areas would you like to be coached on?”: different coaches will offer perhaps different answers.
  5. I work primarily with personal clients, private individuals, who are usual in management or professional roles that would like to achieve more from their life”: it’s preferable dealing with somebody that has clear idea of who his/her clients are and that chooses to work just with them rather than a person that works with anybody who comes along.
  6. Have been coaching for 3 years, full time for the last 18 months”: coaching is a relatively new profession and the top qualified coaches in the UK have been coaching for just a bit more that ten years.  Therefore 2-3 years experience is considered a good and reliable level of expertise.
  7. following our code of ethics I cannot disclose who my clients are: I occasionally mention situations and coaching conversations while I always keep my client’s identity confidential”  Beware of a coach who lists their clients’ names.
  8. I have 10 years experience in training and education” or “I have over 15 years of management experience in both junior, senior and board positions in small to large enterprises”: some coaches have a background in HR or psychology and build on that; at the same time coaching is a methodology to deal with issues that goes beyond the actual background so any solid work experience will be a great start for a professional willing to become a coach.
  9. I offer several packages like personal, business and executive based on 12 sessions developed over 3 to 6 months”: open ended payment schemes where you start one day without a clear idea of when you finish are reflecting the working methodology of therapists: they are also encouraging the coach to keep you engaged as long as possible in order to make more money off you.

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This post was written by massimo on 28 August 2009

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