dartsIn the previous issue, I talked about how we as coaches can help our clients build deep values into a business.  In this context “deep values” refer to those motivations that are more important than just making money and delivering products or services.

I find that many coaches are seeking to build just this kind of businesses: one founded upon and expressing deep values.  As a Christian coach, it’s likely that you want to include your own faith as part of the foundation of your coaching practice.

Do you want your coaching to make a difference in the world?  Here’s a game plan for making that happen.

Define Your Personal Core

First published in and copyrighted by Christian Coaching Magazine, 8 January 2014.
Link to original

Your first task is to figure out what your faith means to your life.  I encourage clients to express this in terms of personal principles.

I’m not talking here about the surface activities that might surround your faith.  Sure, you go to church on Sunday and you’re involved with various faith groups and activities.  But it’s important to examine the deeper motivations underlying such behaviors.  Here are some examples of deeper personal values:

  • I believe that my coaching is a calling from God, the mission that I must fulfill.
  • My faith is the source of my moral structure.
  • Faith gives me the energy to do all the hard work.
  • I’m called to give my life in service to others.

It will probably take some time, and deep discernment, to find the principles that resonate the most with you on a personal level.  This would be a wonderful topic to discuss with your coach, spiritual director, or close friend.

I strongly encourage you to write these statements down.  I find that this helps make the foundational values more concrete and prevents you from sliding around on slippery surfaces such as your emotional state and daily events.

Define Your Business Values

Next, look at the values of your business.  It’s useful to imagine your company as an independent entity, which has its own presence and identity in the world. 

Many coaches are in one-person practices.  If this is the case with you, you’ll find a close association between your personal values and the business values.  If you believe that you’re personally called to give your life in service to the poor, you could choose to design a coaching business that delivers services directly to the needy.

A different set of values might focus on Christian morality: honesty, fairness, giving, and service.  In this case, what’s inside the company might be more important than the kinds of services you deliver.

You might decide that you want your company to focus on being of service to a particular church community, serving parishioners, clergy, and staff.

If you coach as part of a larger coaching company, collective, or franchise, then the company values should be discussed as a group.  When you’re connecting with core values of a group of people, each must be deeply engaged and supportive of the resulting decisions.

What you’re doing here is to clearly define why you use the word “Christian” to describe anything about your business.  And if someone else should join or take over the company, you’d like these values to continue as long as it survives.

Build the Foundation Strategies

Your next step is to translate these values into real decisions.  Your great intentions have to result in concrete, intentional strategies in order to give you the results that matter.

If you’re looking to serve the poor, you’d want to structure your services and fees appropriately. I know coaches who have set targets for how much they’ll deliver at extremely low rates (or even free), while also delivering coaching to other clients at much higher rates.  In this case, money itself is no longer the primary goal.  Money is just the means of making the business sustainable, so it can continue to benefit the poor for many years.

If you’re looking to serve a particular religious affiliation, this will define your marketing strategy.  You might figure that you can bring great benefit to clients who connect through a common religion, and become known and respected for your expertise and faith.  This is similar to any other “vertical market” strategy, such as focusing on attorneys, medical professionals, or manufacturing companies.

I work with clients who have a mixture of faith backgrounds.  Some incorporate it into their businesses, some don’t.  I incorporate religion into the sessions as appropriate for each individual.  I created the Values-Based Business blog (www.valuesbasedbusiness.wordpress.com) as an element of reaching out to those with religious and non-religious values. I made clear that this was a project specifically tied to me, and it doesn’t imply that the larger franchise, Small Fish, is any kind of religious organization.  This was especially important because of a happy accident:  Our company logo is a large fish made up of a bunch of small fish.

Take Action

Now that you’ve captured your business values and built your strategic foundation, you need to build the reality.  Until you take action, none of this makes a difference.

If your values and strategy are real, then you should see a difference in your actions, even on a daily or hourly basis.

For instance, if you’re delivering coaching both to the poor and the wealthy, you should ask:

  • Is it the same service I’m delivering to both?
  • How is my marketing different for these different audiences?
  • Are the needs different?
  • Is success defined the same?
  • How do the two parts of this business interact with and support each other?

Perhaps you’re indignant that I’d suggest you might bring any less than your 100% coaching awesomeness to each of your clients.  Not at all.  But you might find that coaching has much more impact for your poor clients when delivered in person, while busy executives would rather meet on the phone.  It’s about what best serves your customers and the success of your business.

Let’s look at another example.  Suppose you are developing a business foundation around Christian morality.  This will affect at least two areas: How you interact with clients, and how you operate as a business.  You should design your business around questions like this:

  • How exactly do I define the standard of “Christian morality” that I aspire to?
  • Which issues and areas will build on these values?
  • How do I ensure that my values get incorporated into all the important decisions?
  • Is it possible to measure progress toward the ideal?

Make sure that you make this an ongoing exercise, not just something you do while you’re starting up.  New issues will arise daily, and you’ll need to incorporate your values into decisions even when you’re distracted by other priorities.

Measure Progress

I find that actions are most powerful when they’re linked to how you measure success.

The old adage from Peter Drucker is true: “What gets measured gets done.”  If you want deep values to permeate your coaching business, you must find ways to measure the expression of those values.

For instance, if your value of providing for the poor you leads you to give money to the underprivileged, then you would want to track how much money you give every month.  Examine closely whether you’re making regular progress, meeting your goal, and expressing your value.

If your values lead you to prefer a certain type of client profile, then track what kind of clients you’re attracting and working with.  Better yet, find ways to measure how the value is driving your primary decisions on where you’re spending your marketing time and money.

It’s critical to do this on a regular basis.  I’ve been tracking my marketing efforts every week for three years.  As a result, I know what works for bringing in my target clients.  I also scrutinize my financials every quarter, compare them with the goals, and make projections for the future.

Learn and Grow

Coaches are all about learning from what works, so apply this to your own business.

Imagine that you’re trying to create a coaching business where you’re bringing spiritual fulfillment to each of your clients.  And even though it’s hard, you figure out a way to judge whether each client receives that.

But nothing ever works perfectly.  You’re probably going to be dissatisfied with the progress you’re making on that goal.  When you first started, the dream was so compelling, but now you find some clients are satisfied but not deeply touched.

As a coach, you know some of the questions you should ask.  You’ll want to look at the goal itself and see whether it’s shifted over time.  You’ll examine the processes, actions and measures that you designed.  You’ll think through alternative ways to deliver better value for your clients.

You might have a discussion with some clients about what would best serve them.  Maybe “spiritual fulfillment” is not something that’s important to them right now.  This might mean that you need to market to a different kind of client or change your coaching services.  Your deep values can likely be expressed in different ways.  The wise coach is open to flexing, adapting, and growing as a way to remain true to his deep values, not in spite of or in contrast to those values.

Building a Great Business

Great businesses are built on powerful foundations; a great company is worth an investment of significant time and energy.  So let me ask:

  • To what extent do you want your coaching business to make a difference in the world?
  • How well are you doing at doing more than just making an income?
  • What is your next step in making your deep values a core part of your coaching business?

DierschowCarl Dierschow, ACC is a Small Fish Business Coach in northern Colorado who has worked with business owners and professionals for 14 years.  He holds certifications from two business coaching schools, and blogs on at ValuesBasedBusiness.wordpress.com.