Nobody should become a business coach simply to profiteer. It should be about giving and helping clients grow through the value you can add.
I wasn’t a natural born business coach. In fact, I started adult life as a moderately successful and unengaged Engineer. I’d ply my trade 9-5 for a cause that, while needed, wasn’t enabling me to grow. The challenge wasn’t there.
Work wasn’t my focus, I’d live for time spent with my mates. Each weekend, we’d tear across Melbourne on our road bicycles in our tight fluorescent lycra. We’d hold up traffic and cafe tables, as we went about our sport with passion.
It was during this paddle-posse that I was tasked with finding and buying some race gear as we looked to turn our mateship into a serious race team. I was growing in my hobby, but not my career.
I looked into cycling gear online. I dealt with employees in store and on the phone. It’s ironic that for a sport often focused on speed, speed didn’t translate into how cycling businesses operated – I’m still waiting to hear back from some of them.
Poor customer service was standard, but beyond that was the inferior quality cycling gear. I didn’t want the boys wearing something prone to ripping with a bit of seat-thigh friction.
So, instead I dared to ride the back-roads of dealing with manufacturers both here and overseas. I was determined to find quality at a competitive price somewhere.
I didn’t know it at the time but this was the instigator for me in creating and building Seight Custom Cycling Wear. I’d dealt with an industry that needed a shake up and I wanted to be the one to do it.
It wasn’t protein that was fueling me, it was a challenge I’d set myself. There was no business case behind what I was doing. I simply contacted suppliers, manufactures and everyone in between to get the best deal and designs for the boys.
As time passed, what I was doing built out and before too long I was running a $300,000 business from my kitchen table while still tinkering away at engineering.
I was yet to hit 30 and I’d made it as a man and business player. I’d disrupted an industry and had done it without leaving our apartment. I was arrogant about my success.
But pride comes before a fall. My tires hit tram tracks and I crashed.
I’m not sure if they my employer found out where my focus truly was, but I was made redundant as an Engineer. I wasn’t upset by the news, just nervous that I had to rely on my small business for financial support in a time when the Australian dollar had just plummeted.
Was I ready to work on it full time? Was it strong enough to survive? I just didn’t know.
It was a prospect that scared my wife. Although of similar age, she was at a different stage of life. She wanted the security of money in the bank and I don’t blame her, but a regular dual income household was suddenly something I couldn’t offer.
We stopped communicating. After returning from a strained weekend away, my wife approached me and told me she was leaving. Through hindsight it wasn’t unexpected, but as a young man I didn’t see it coming.
On my own in business and dealing with divorce, I found solace in not getting out of bed. It’s easier to pull the covers up and not face an anxious future.
I dropped the ball. A business with potential soon fizzled to a $200,000 debt. Business decisions, like an entire $20,000 rebrand, were made on impulse not need or practicality.
I thought it was unfair. I was good at business initially and I was a decent husband. Self-doubt set in and I got angry.
My once confident nature had been torn apart. I was directionless.
In a time of stress, I tried to pull myself together. I jumped on my bike with the aim of clearing my mental-fog.
As I rode, in the distance I could see two different cycling routes emerge. I realised this was my fork in the road and the option I chose would dictate my future. I could either quit and return to work for someone else, or recalibrate and complete my mission.
Knowing it would take hard work, sweat and tears I still chose the latter.
Self reflection revealed to me that the arrogance of minor success was not who I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I realised the world owed me nothing, yet I owe myself everything that my situation began to change.
I knew I had to develop myself in order to rebuild the business I wanted. Success started (and stopped) with me. If that didn’t motivate me, nothing would.
With renewed vision I realised that, although I needed to be the instigator of success, I couldn’t do it alone. I needed to build my support network. There’s a point in business where you need guidance from others who have gone before you and that’s what I was seeking.
I rounded up my business cards and sped-off to networking functions. I never went with the intention of winning customers, but finding help.
I meet a lot of successful business types and was able to find the help that benefitted me.
Through learning from others and a reassessment of my business, I created a plan to get things racing again. I started with a company-wide analysis.
I focused on what was working and got rid of what wasn’t. I set targets and, like in the beginning, challenged myself to achieve them. We went back to core business and what was making money, not getting distracted by shiny new tactics.
I wanted to add value and this impacted everything we did. I created proper processes, which empowered my team to take positive action. We documented everything and measured its success.
It took 18 months to build Seight Custom Cycling Wear back up again, but I was able to take it beyond its previous peak. And this time it was done without the arrogance.
What started out as mates riding bikes transitioned into a cycling clothing company that supplied multiple national champions in road, cyclocross, on the track and even a World Champion.
But it wasn’t just the industry that used our services. We supplied governing bodies and sport institutes. I was proud that top-tier Australian athletes were happy to use our gear.
Having developed as a person, I knew I wanted Seight to make an impact socially. We supported multiple charity organisations and events over the journey. The most well-known being Ride to Conquer Cancer, with events all over the country and thousands of jerseys manufactured each year, all raising awareness in the fight against a devastating illness.
I’d built the business back up again and it was noticed. My sales manager wanted to buy it from me to target the UK market. I’d spent the last six years building something from the ground up and was overcome with emotion when somebody viewed my efforts as valuable.
To be honest, I felt as though I’d taken it as far as I could and selling it to somebody who I knew and would continue its growth was the right move. The process of sale took time but we agreed to terms.
I imagine it was like leaving your child on day one of primary school. Something you love was entering a new phase, and all you can do is allow it to happen.
Again, I was at a crossroads. What was I going to do next? A holiday.
I met Erin, my partner, in 2016 and instantly I knew she was a girl who would support me and encourage me to achieve the goals I set myself. Yet I didn’t know what the next goal was.
We spent many hours on holiday talking about what we wanted out of life and what my next move would be. She asked me what it is I love doing. My answer was simple.
I love personal growth, I love rising to a challenge and I love helping my friends and family move mountains in the course of their lives.
Erin’s response was telling, “sounds like you could use your experiences to help others in business grow and achieve”.
I didn’t immediately warm to her suggestion. I knew what it takes to survive (and prosper) in business and I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do it again. I continued to think about it and the idea never left me.
I started investigating whether it was a viable option for me and one I could put my effort towards. I knew one thing for sure, if I did it I wouldn’t call myself a ‘business coach’.
Through industry research, I learnt that there was a glut of business coaches but not many with the lived experience that I had.
There’s really only two options. A more senior business coach, who while offering a level of expertise is often hampered by limited ability to adapt to the digital age. Or the crass, a young buck with no real business experience just a flimsy life coaching ‘certificate’ and social media accounts.
Business coaching as a profession should be noble but it’s unregulated. A cheap sugar-hit is promoted over something more sustainable, but I know quick fixes don’t work in business.
A fire started to roar inside me. I began Evolve to Grow in 2017 with clear intent. I want to give business owners time and freedom, enabling it to happen right now.
So many people enter business knowing they can do it better than it currently is, but most lack the direction to make it successful and it consumes their lives and breaks down relationships.
Trust me, that’s a lesson I know too well.
A business is not successful if it takes you away from the things you love. My mission is simple, I want to act as your Sherpa as we scale your business mountain together. I believe the benefit of my previous experience in business and life is the catalyst for you to evolve and grow.
Evolve to Grow is about arming you with the knowledge and skill to confidently separate yourself from your business. As a business owner, it’s the only way to relax.
Download my eBook to learn the 10 principles to grow the perfect business.
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