Learning the Value of Consulting and Coaching

A personal experience

Years ago, when I was running my restaurant I was really struggling with the overwhelm of running the business. The demands of managing staff, managing cash, managing relationships with suppliers, managing the relationship with various authorities while also making sure that our food and drink services were up to the high standards I wanted were relentless.  At one stage I was approached by a large international coaching organisation who promised that they could help me. If only I had listened. 

At the time, I was so overwhelmed that I just thought it was one more expense that I could do without and that in any case, I could figure it out on my own. That decision cost me a great deal of peace of mind and more than likely an awful lot of money. Without a doubt I missed out on the chance to:     

·       Improve marketing and as a result sales

·       Improve financial performance with better sales, better tracking methods and tighter margin control

·       I more than likely missed out on the opportunity to have and implement new ideas that could have enhanced the business, saved time, increased sales or saved money - not to mention reduce stress.

My mindset of “I can do it all” blinkered me to how helpful an outside perspective can be. The outsider can nearly always spot what you are missing, see where your focus is off and invariably has experience to draw on that you can use for your own benefit. The very act of talking to someone from outside your business gives you the opportunity to pause, re-centre and be more open to ideas. When I look back on my thinking at the time, I can’t believe how short-sighted I was. 

Eventually I got all the financial processes sorted, the people in place to run the business without my constant presence and a steady rhythm of communication with customers and suppliers that made life considerably easier – but it took a long time. Quite honestly by the time it was done I had lost considerable drive and enthusiasm for the business as a result. 

Many entrepreneurs face this situation – a belief that you only have control when you do it yourself. 

So what changed my mind? My very first experience of using a consultant was when Failte Ireland, Ireland’s tourism promotion authority, responded to my request for help in promoting the town of Howth by appointing a consultant to help with our marketing. For me, this was a transformative experience. The consultant took us through identifying all the assets the town had and how we should construct the marketing messages to appeal to a variety of target audiences and build a brand for the town as destination for great food alongside cultural, leisure and sporting activities. Within a very short time of working with Conor we started to see transformative results.  Conor encouraged us to start a festival and the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival was born. I went on to lead Howth’s development as an incredibly successful tourism destination for the next 5 years, building the tourism in the town up to hosting over one million annual visitors with a signature event in the festival attracting 40,000 visitors. All of this occurred as a consequence of getting the strategy and messaging right in a few short sessions in winter 2010. 

Since then I have seen in my own practice the transformative effect good consulting and coaching can have. In a very short space of time, perspectives and attitudes shift, experience and knowledge are improved and the results to the bottom line usually speak for themselves. A small investment of time and money can get you the right help at the right time, reducing the stresses and yielding great results for you and your business.

If you think you could do with an outside perspective, get in touch.