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Confidence – An Often Overlooked Business Tool

small business owner, Irish business owner, confidence, busines tool

This blog has been a little quiet as I’m after being in Ireland for a business/family visit. While I was there,  I watched the new television programme, Taking Care of Business on RTÉ. Like Fergal Quinn’s show, Retail Therapy, a struggling business and its owner are the focus for each episode. While there is much conversation about business plans, debts and the relationship with banks, the most striking thing that is talked about is the low confidence level each business owner exhibits at the beginning of the episode.

Ireland is a tough place for small business owners right now

I had quite a number of conversations with various small business owners while in Ireland who described their frustrations and worries. There are many questions about the rising tax levels, continuing austerity budgets, the obstacles business owners face accessing credit, the high debt levels and the actions taken by the Irish government.

Confidence has taken a hit

Confidence is a remarkable thing. It is not the belief that you can do no wrong nor that everything is going to be the way it was.  It is the belief that “I can handle this somehow”, even under pressure. However, when you are faced with what seems like never-ending obstacles, confidence can be undermined so even normally confident people get to a low moment. As I’ve written before,  it’s not unusual to question your values, choices and actions during a major crisis of confidence. It is also overlooked as a business tool during times of crisis because it seems so tenuous and airy-fairy. Yet, it is the underpinning for what makes a small business owner effective.

To be confident, you need focus

Daniel Goleman, who studies emotional intelligence has discovered that focus is an important ingredient in confidence. In an interview with Dr. George Kohlreiser, he quoted Kohlreiser as saying:

“How you manage your own emotions is determined by how you focus. The mind’s eye is like a flashlight. This flashlight can always search for something positive or something negative. The secret is being able to control that flashlight – to look for the opportunity and the positive. When you do that, you’re playing to win. You’re able to focus on the right things and maintain that positive self.”

Getting that groove back

Someone once wrote that “It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain when you start out the climb” in reference to changing one’s heart and mind. There is a tension between old expectations and current reality. However, building up confidence brings the small business owner back to what makes him/her tick. This is the focus.

For some business owners, they need to be meeting prospective customers. This is where they get get their groove back. For others, they need to be doing something else to get their groove back…meeting with current customers, revising the business plan or accessing help from an outside resource. For my coaching clients with struggling businesses, the return to basics (reviewing the business plan and current goals, looking at up-to-date financial reports and completing a SWOT analysis) plus acknowledging the emotional aspects gets their feet back on the ground and their minds looking forward.

Confidence…that overlooked business tool

For Irish small business owners, indeed small business owners in many places, it is an uphill climb. The slow pace can feel grueling and the wins seem so small. It is so easy to think so-and-so has it easy because of their location or specialty but you don’t really know what their story is. And it’s tempting to ignore that you have certain skills, have faced adversity before or that there are other small business owners like yourself.  People gauge how well your business is doing by your posture and how you speak (Amy Cuddy has a fascinating TED talk about body language and confidence). Your prospects get excited if you are enthusiastic. Your staff and/or outside resources will feel more secure that you are projecting solidity. And most importantly, you will discover you can weather what comes your way. Confidence isn’t about the bad stuff going away. Confidence supports finding a way to face forward and seek solutions.

**After 2 active conversations on LinkedIn started due to this post, I wrote a companion post, “CEO Mindset: Confidence When Your Business Is Struggling“,  to flesh out more about what makes confidence such an important business tool.

 

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and executive coach who guides established small business owners in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to use the CEO Mindset and be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.

 

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Dilemma of Wanting to Be CEO and Future of Social Entrepreneurship

Some of you might have seen these posts on TweakYourBiz.com and KaizenBiz.com but if you haven’t, allow me to share them with you.

When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO

You may have seen some of my previous posts here since I’ve been a regular blogger since 2009. It’s not an unusual situation for a small business owner to be ready for the next stage of his/her career but feel they have to put the brakes on their activities because the business needs their direct attention. When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO talks about the dilemma small business owners face when they cannot move to the next stage of their own growth. So, when is your small business not ready for you to be CEO? And how do you prepare it so it is ready?

Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

On a weekly basis, I host the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. (If you would like to see what this lively, thought-provoking and international chat is like, please join us every Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT) We talk about all kinds of business ideas using critical thinking so we can enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. So this past week, we took a look at Social Entrepreneurship.

If you are not familiar with social entrepreneurship, it is is a subset of entrepreneurship with the emphasis on using business to drive a social change. It is not simply corporate social responsibility. It is a company that is founded with the intent to change the world. The 10th annual Skoll World Forum was held recently and there are some interesting ideas emerging. We decided to take a closer look with this framing post, Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship. Do you see social entrepreneurship becoming more mainstream? What expectations are being created for social entrepreneurial ventures in terms of sustainability, creating customers and earning profit?

Let me know what you think by commenting here or on the posts themselves…

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Managing the Business Owner: What Do You Want?

What do you wantFour words that strike fear and make an otherwise capable professional unable to make sense.

What do you want?

When I ask this in a coaching session, there usually a release of breath and a nervous laugh. Then the avoidant answers come out. Formerly articulate people stop putting two sentences together. I have noticed that it isn’t so much that we don’t know what we want (yes, I’ve been struck dumb with this question too). We know all too well. We are dreamers who see ourselves making that dream salary, gaining recognition as a “go-to” person, serving our customers with excellence and living that satisfying life we crave.

Negative messages and negative experiences Click here to read more »

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Managing the Small Business Owner: Control, Influence and Limitations

Managing the Small Business Owner: Control, Influence and LimitationsA coaching session with a client and a post on Forbes.com about span of control set a theme for me last week. How much do small business owners have real control and how to manage the limitations?

The traditional definition of span of control is “the number of people who report to one manager in a hierarchy. The more people under the control of one manager – the wider the span of control. Less means a narrower span of control.”

Important distinction for small business owners

In my work with small business owners who are growing their business, the question of hiring and managing employees comes up over and over. There is some anxiety about increasing one’s span of control too fast but more questions arise around trusting employees to move the business forward. It’s great to see one’s hard work come to fruition when you add new hires or create an executive team out of current employees.

CEO mindset, control and influence Click here to read more »

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How To Be The Sun When Leading Change In Your Small Business

leadership, change and small businessEvery now and then, a children’s story catches  my attention in an unexpected way. Recently I was reading Aesop’s The Sun and the Wind .

The Sun and the Wind were arguing about which one of them was stronger. They could not come to any agreement. When they saw traveller on the road, the Wind said, “this is how we can decide. The first one of us who can make that traveller remove his cloak is the strongest. The Sun answered the challenge, “That is an excellent idea! You may go first.” The Wind laughed and said, “You go behind that cloud while I show you how it’s done. Watch and learn.”

After the Sun went behind  a cloud, the Wind began to blow and blow. However, no matter how hard the Wind  blew, the traveller would not remove his cloak. The traveller just pulled his cloak closer around him and trudging down the road. Finally, the Wind gave up and stopped blowing.

The Sun came out from behind the cloud and began to shine. Eventually the traveller became so warm, he took his cloak off and carried it on his arm.

During times of change, are you the Wind or the Sun? Click here to read more »

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Are You Managing Out Of A Crisis? Irish SME’s Guide

My new adventure…I was a news reviewer on The Small Business Show with Kehlan Kirwan and Brian Cleary this past Saturday, September 15th (I’ll post the podcast link when it goes live). This radio show focuses on Irish SME’s by highlighting interesting companies as well as discussing news stories that affect small business all over Ireland.

Managing Out Of a CrisisOne story in particular caught my eye…

The Minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD and the Minister of  State for Small Business John Perry TD announced that a guide titled, Managing Out of a Crisis. This guide is supposed to be something that struggling small business owners could use immediately. With the news remaining grim, it can feel overwhelming or even paralyzing trying to keep things going.

Where do you start? Click here to read more »

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Why Model Of Olympic Athletes Is Bad For Your Small Business

Olympic training negative for small business ownersAfter watching the Summer Olympics, it’s tempting to model the single-minded dedication and pursuit of being the best. Let me say this first, I love the Olympics! It’s extraordinary to see people who have dedicated themselves for a sporting event that only happens every 4 years. Their whole lives -diet, exercise, psychological training, competitions, downtime – are dedicated to improving their performance. Witnessing this performance is awe inspiring! And yet…this is a bad model for small business owners. Click here to read more »

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Managing the Business Owner: When Do I Hire A Coach?

business owner, choices, coaching It’s not unusual for a small business owner to be talented and intuitive enough to steer their businesses through early growth. In fact, you want that foundation! Then, one day, there is an  inspiration to go for a bigger push. Sometimes this inspiration is like a whack on the head…your biggest client leaves or you’ve hit some other financial wall. Other times it is illumination…your product or service feeds a need in your market or the business is attracting attention and interest from your uber-ideal customers.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Stephen Covey ( who passed away on July 16, 2012) recommended seven habits  and one of these is “Begin with the end in mind”. This is often the starting point when we consider our wishes, hopes and dreams. Sometimes we articulate them to our business partners or friends but often business owners keep them quiet. Like the business owner I was speaking with last week who said he wanted to increase his revenues by 50%, it’s easy to come up with huge goals. It’s harder to determine why they are the best ones for both your personal growth and the growth of your organization.

Where’s the gap between your big goals and you? Click here to read more »

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Small Business Owner, Why Hire An Executive Coach?

“Why should I hire you?” I get that question a lot. And frankly, I welcome it!

Since I work with established business owners, they want to know how coaching generates results they can see and feel. I can relate as a business owner. I don’t have time or money to waste either.

There are huge expectations for small business owners and most are ready to take on the challenges in front of them. However, it is common to want a place to express your dreams, aspiration, doubts and weaknesses. You want to maintain your authority and still make sure you have a solid support system that keeps you fresh and grounded.

What is coaching? Click here to read more »

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5 Tips For Better Delegation

If you are like most small business owners (or executives), you have a pretty active to-do list and not nearly enough time to do it all. Besides keeping an eye on the overall business, it is likely that you are involved with some of the day-to-day work with customers. For some business owners, they stay in the Pre-Leader stage and try to do everything themselves. And they wonder why they feel overwhelmed and overworked. I don’t think anyone ever founds a business saying, “I want to create something that will make me miserable.”

Share the work Click here to read more »

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