G’Day entrepreneurs! I am Shan Naqvi your host with such an amazing guest Jacob Aldridge. He’s from Australia and I believe this is my first guest from the Australia. Now this is something I really love about in interviewing people because it gives me an opportunity to meet brilliant people every day from all around the world. I would like to introduce Jacob for a bit before I get started. So Jacob is a business coach, now you would say everyone is a coach these days, right?
So let me assure you Jacob is not like most of the coaches. His most of the private clients are generating more than $1.5-$17 Millions every year! Isn’t it great? It speaks itself that Jacob is one of the best business coaches ever. Apart from that he is a brilliant guy with a great personality. Now let’s talk with him directly and learn more!
People know about life coaching but not very many know about business coaching. What could a person starting a business get from connecting with a business coach?
It’s great that you asked that question Shan, because business coaching is increasingly being recognised by business leaders as a valuable investment, although the reputation varies in different countries. When I started coaching in 2006, I usually had to explain what a ‘business coach’ was; I remember returning to Australia in 2013, and someone said “You can’t be a business coach – you’re far too nice to be a coach!”. So being a well-known industry isn’t always a good thing.
For those who don’t know, a useful analogy is a sports coach. Somebody who can stand on the sidelines – they’re not allowed to play the game – but they can bring a perspective and some guidance to help you be a better player. Great coaches can help you overcome challenges, not just point out problems.
I’m not a pure business coach – I don’t think that’s the right approach. So I suppose I’m like a golf coach who will help you on the driving range, but also come out onto the golf course with you and even take the difficult shots on your behalf if necessary. You will get better as a business leader, and I’m happy to be hands-on with my clients in sales meetings, difficult staff conversations, and so on to show you how to play not just coach you hypothetically.
As for a business coach when you’re starting a business, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Coaching is a medium-to-long-term investment in your business – it can take 6-18 months to deliver a return on your investment, and when you’re starting a business you can’t wait that long. (The exception would be a well-funded startup that already has a leadership team in place.)
In general, new business owners need specific consulting help around marketing, maybe some sales training, and they would benefit from having an industry mentor who has walked the path before and can also provide some relevant introductions.
A business coach really becomes valuable after a year or a few years – when you have established that there’s a market for your product or service, maybe you’ve started to build a team, and you want some more perspective on what is truly possible from your enterprise.
I see many people looking for to start a business but they don’t have any idea about how they can start. What are some good ideas now in the current world?
I LOVE entrepreneurial spirits who are driven to start a business, even though they have no idea what type of business to start. My advice to people in this situation is to think about who they want to work with as clients – then go and talk to a lot of those people about their lives, what they love and what challenges they face. Those challenges, if you can solve them, are your business idea.
This approach of talking to a lot of potential customers – doing market research, not sales, when you first start your business – is the best advice I can give. Because it’s so much harder to convince people to spend their money with you than most people realise. If you think you can just build a website and the customers will come, then you’re going to be looking for a new job very soon.
Only by talking to people and asking them for their money will you truly understand what they value. Maybe that’s similar to your current solution, maybe it’s wildly different, but the chances of you having the perfect product or service from day one are very small. And that’s OK!
What kinds of products do you sell and which kind of people may benefit from these?
I have several businesses, including an online coaching platform for real estate business owners (www.RealReach.com.au) and my keynote speaking product.
Most people though know me as an international business coach. My ideal clients are professional services companies with offices in multiple countries. My average client has between 12 and 100 staff per country, and that includes small businesses that have one office in one country as well.
They usually engage me for:
- A Strategic Business Review, to examine their current vision, strategy, and resource mix and develop a simple, effective business plan;
- Strategy or Project coaching, helping design and develop a lasting strategy in a key business function like sales, training, or communication;
- Implementation or Leadership coaching, working 1-on-1 or in small groups with the business leaders to ensure they have the skill and the will to execute the strategy for the benefit of all.
Increasingly, I deliver this work via Zoom or WhatsApp, which means I’m helping business founders all over the world.
The clients who benefit most from my services are the business founders who have created a strong business but suddenly feel stuck, and would rather learn from the experience of others than make all the mistakes themselves. They’re happy to invest $30,000 – $100,000 per year because they know the returns will be in the millions.
What is the difference between a coach and a concierge?
This is an excellent question, and I really have to thank my friend (and former business partner) John Knight from Business Depot for creating the distinction.
Coaches, especially ‘pure coaching’ which I’ve already said doesn’t work in business, operate by asking the right questions to help draw awareness and information out of a client. Because they’re about the questions, not having the answers, they usually feel they can help in any situation.
If you think of a Hotel Concierge, they can also ask a lot of great questions. Maybe you want a restaurant or show recommendation – and they’ll find out exactly which one you will like best. Most valuably though, they have the answers (“go and see Hamilton”) AND they have the connections and introductions to actually help (“I can get you tickets for tonight”).
In business, the most valuable people aren’t the ones just asking you questions, they’re the ones who can bring solutions and introduce you to the specialists who can help if they cannot. I call myself a Deep Generalist because I know a lot about a lot in business, and I can point people in the right direction (even if that means not working with me).
John and his team at Business Depot are building a national business in Australia full of Concierges, which I think it really exciting for business owners who often feel trapped with one advisor who may now actually be able to help them anymore. I’m part of their Collective network of experts, which is one of my most fun strategic relationships.
How much importance would you put on creating a good relationship? How does a person make a good relationship in an online business?
The whole context of Sales is creating relationships – if you can’t make a connection, then either you’re selling a commodity at the lowest price or you’re going out of business.
It amazes me how many businesses – especially online businesses – focus almost exclusively on new relationships and new customers instead of nurturing and building the relationships they already have.
One of the first social media sites in the world was E-Cademy, and one of the founders Penny Power wrote a great book called Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me.
Help people get to know you – they have to find you, so traditional ‘lead generation’ approaches are important, and when they do find you then you need to be transparent and authentic. This may be you as an individual – my website and online presence are wildly transparent – but it can also be you as a company having a purpose and a personality.
If they like your personality, and you can add value to their lives (hopefully by selling them a product or service), then how can you encourage them to follow you? Because if you can build your tribe of people that think you’re amazing, they will buy from you repeatedly and be advocates for you in the market.
The opportunity online is no longer about having the best product or the best price, there’s way too much market saturation. Build an audience you can sell into.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur and chose business? There are challenges in business. How do you manage the hard times?
There’s a great 90s movie called Blast from the Past where a family end up in a bomb shelter for 30 years. And Christopher Walken is trying to explain baseball to his son, Brendan Fraser, without the benefit of any videos. There’s the concept of a batter being walked, which forces the batter on first base to also get a free walk around to second base.
And Brendan Fraser can’t understand this concept. Why does the other batter get a free walk. The best explanation Walken has is “Because he must! He must!”
That’s entrepreneurship to me. I didn’t choose it. It was just something I had to do – there was an energy in the universe that said “He Must! He Must!” It’s something I see in other vocations as well, particularly a lot of creative arts like writing and acting.
And that’s what gets me through the hard times. Consciously, I know there’s an alternative to ‘get a job’ somewhere, but emotionally and realistically that’s just not an option for me anymore. So I continue in business, because I must.
How do I manage the challenges though? Absolutely with the help of my business coach. (Side note: If you ever meet a business coach, ask them who their business coach is and why. If they can’t answer you, then they don’t practice what they preach and you should avoid working with them.)
I have had several coaches over my 13 years in business, because my needs and the needs of my business have changed. I’m currently working with a coach to focus on redesigning my entire business model, to better fit my family plans to become a perpetual traveler. Prior to that my coach was heavily focused on self-creation and energy management, because I was in an emotional funk effecting everything – I went from 8 lost sales in a row to 13 wins in succession after just one session with her, which is an amazing testament to a great coach.
Any message for our readers? How can they reach out to you and what kind of services do you offer?
I love business, so I’m always happy to answer questions by email (though it can take me a couple of weeks when I’m busy and traveling). If you head to www.JacobAldridge.com you’ll be able to learn more and stay connected.
The biggest message I can give people who are stuck – whether they want to start a business but don’t know how, or they have a business that’s losing momentum – is to go and talk to customers. And not by email – pick up the phone, buy them a coffee, leave your office and go to theirs. And talk to them as human beings.
Your customers will inspire you, and they will show you how to better serve them. If you can do that, it will turn into revenue and achieving all your commercial ambitions.