A few years ago, I overheard some of my colleagues discussing their weekend plans to volunteer at a marathon. As I listened to the discussion I became intrigued because I was unfamiliar with this type of volunteerism and on the surface I didn’t understand why it was needed. As the conversation developed my colleagues shared the challenges of long distance running; there was a consensus that support throughout the race—not just at the beginning and end– would make each runner more likely to complete the journey.
Having never participated in a marathon, I sought to understand. I was compelled to ask the one question that came to my mind after hearing them deliberate, which was “Why do you need support throughout the race?” The group looked at each other as if they were trying to decide who should take the question. After a long awkward silence, I further developed the question. “I mean, isn’t it your race to run? I thought you spend months preparing for it… Shouldn’t your adrenaline carry you through?” My naivety was rooted in my disdain for long distance running.
I played football for more than 15 years and it seemed like every time the team did something wrong our coaches made us run long distances as punishment. These folks were volunteering to run for hours without getting any admiration from most of their peers or the potential to make millions of dollars as a professional. Finally, the strongest runner in the group looked at me and said, “We all need a cup of water on our journey. It is helpful to know that someone understands what we are going through and can point us in the right direction when we are getting weary.” I completely understood this concept, as it is the basis for my view of why only 2 out of every 10 businesses last more than 10 years.
Business owners and executives often become so busy fighting the fires of daily operations that they rarely spend time working on their business. They get caught up in the whirlwind of right now instead of spending the necessary time looking at what is most important. These decisions are often the catalyst for what causes the beginning of the end. When is the last time you worked on a strategic plan or took the time to write out an updated plan for your business?
Leaders who have worked in large companies and experienced the impact consultants and coaches can deliver to their organization are often challenged to find the resources to cover the costs to engage many of those same coaches when they transfer to smaller companies or become entrepreneurs because they have other competing priorities. For the group of owners who have never had a positive consulting or coaching experience, they often have a hard time understanding the value proposition because they may not understand how to use coaching services, or they aren’t aware of how these services can improve business.
We find this to be most common for enterprises that generate revenues between $750,000 and $5MM annually. This is where organizations begin to have formal policies and decision making is distributed to more than the top one or two people within the organization. Because of these dynamics, we see this as a time where development of strong leadership and a focus on having a healthy culture are essential to the ongoing growth and success of the company. While many owners believe they can handle these issues, the reality is very few are equipped to operate the business daily and handle the strategic functions concurrently. Consultants and coaches can offer invaluable support to them and other top leaders of an organization as they run through the woods and the stretches of roads where no one else is standing with signs or cheering. This specially skilled group of people point you in the right direction when you are at a crossroads and unsure of which direction to go, or to offer you a cup of water to replenish some of the nutrients you lost since you left the starting blocks.
Unfortunately, most business owners ignore these opportunities for support thinking they can run the marathon on their own. This choice often results in them condemning their organizations to stagnation, regression or failure. The costs of the external support may be far more attractive than the loss of business, dollars, and efficiency often experienced when handled completely internally.
If you have ever found yourself stuck in a rut, you likely did not notice that your behaviors or thinking possibly stagnated your productivity. You repeated past successful behaviors and awaited a positive outcome, only to be disappointed. You may wonder how you got there, and how to make an effective change. Remember the struggles you faced in making that change; you implemented new behaviors and processes and performed them daily with little to no immediate evidence that your efforts were successful. During this period, you constantly sought feedback as proof that others noticed. In business, top leaders rarely have that luxury because they feel isolated by their staff and clients during change. This doesn’t negate the need it only amplifies the importance of having someone to help keep you on track to your new future state. The question I have for you is who is there to offer you a cup of water when you are weary?
Myers Development Group, LLC assists companies with their business needs. Our organization is committed to delivering results and not just being busy with activities. Our team offers business strategy and organizational development to small businesses who are looking for that competitive advantage.
- Leadership Development
- Executive Coaching and Career Coaching
- Process improvement initiatives
- Cultural Assessment and Alignment
- Support writing proposals, and participate in client presentation
- Support existing client relationship management, create new client lists and initiate contact
- Cultivate relationships with strategic partners
- Perform gap assessments between client needs and internal resources
- Review existing contracts and facilitate creation of additional tasks orders being awarded
- Support strategic planning sessions with market research and analysis
- Lead strategic internal projects for office managers and executives