We create brands and websites for photographers, planners, and other creatives who want to go beyond pretty to create an experience for their community. We learned through launching a number of successful businesses that the best brands and websites encourage people to take action. They invite them into a story, educate and serve, and transform.
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As we mentioned during a Facebook Live last week, we didn’t do much in the way of workshops or conferences during our first few years in business. There are a lot of great conferences out there—we’re fortunate to speak at a few of them—but we felt like we needed to go a little deeper than what a conference generally allows. So, we decided to reach out to a few people who we thought were at a place that we’d like to be. And it paid off.
In the years that we made it a point to find coaching, we were able to make the biggest jumps in our business. This included booking more work while raising our prices, building an audience, and getting to a point in our businesses where we both could go full time.
The truth of the matter is that it’s easy to deceive yourself. And when you do, an outside perspective is often needed to help you navigate. One my coaches explained the value of an outside perspective using the popular children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes. In the story, two weavers convince a king that they can make him a fine suit that would be invisible to anyone unfit for their positions. Of course the whole thing is a con, and the king ends up parading around naked because his court his too fearful to say anything that might jeopardize their positions. It’s not until a child exclaims he is naked that the king realizes that it’s probably true.
This story not only highlights the importance of having people inside your organization that are willing to offer a dissenting view, but it also emphasizes the importance of having an outside perspective. Those who are “in it” are more likely to get a point where they “can’t see the forest for the trees.” In other words they start to get hung up on details and are unable to accurately examine the entire situation and determine the way forward.
Coaching has made a big impact on our businesses throughout the last few years, and we’re big believers that everyone needs a coach.
The demands on your time are real. It’s easy to put things off, come up with excuses, and bail after the first few bumps in the road. A good coach will help keep you on track, and give you the Nike treatment (just do it) when you’re making up excuses. Some of us suffer from shiny object syndrome and pick up ideas only to chase after a new one a little later. And others don’t believe they’re capable of reaching their goals. A coach helps set actionable and realistic goals, and they keep you on track when you get distracted.
Can’t see the forest for the trees? Find an outside perspective. Someone who will not only give problems a fresh set of eyes, but will also approach the issue from a different angle. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and feel stuck. A good coach will ask good questions, which will help you thoroughly think through ideas. Those questions will also help you determine what you should be chasing after.
And sometimes you just need someone to tell you that the world is not burning down around you. A football coach once told me, “After you win, you’re never as good as you think; and after you lose, you’re never as bad as you feel.” It’s good to be reminded of that from time to time.
The easiest day of a diet always seems to be day 1. What you need is someone there on day 15 who is cheering you on. Coaches can provide motivation, which is especially helpful when you’re stuck in the nitty-gritty of a project. It’s easy to lose sight of the goal while you’re in the trenches. A good coach doesn’t just work with you once and then leave you to fend for yourself. They check in on you, they watch you work and they encourage you to keep going. The changes you make to your business might not be immediate, and it is helpful to know that even if you can’t see that things are changing, you have support.
Sometimes ideas are the problem, and you need someone to give you a little shove in the right direction. Often it’s more about having a sounding board—someone to bounce ideas off. Or someone to help you see where you could go. Whether it’s raising your prices, getting featured in a publication you admire or working with a dream client, a coach can help you figure out which dreams to pursue, and how to pursue them.
And perhaps most importantly, coaches can call us out when we’re running around “naked” like the emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes. They help us to take a hard look at what is working and what isn’t. Our coaches spent time going through our portfolio, critiquing our website, scrolling through our social media feed, outlining our entire client experience process. They let us know what they thought what was working and what they thought we could improve. As difficult it was to hear at times, their feedback made a huge difference in our business.
Take a look around in any industry—whether it’s business or athletics—at the people who are high performers. My guess is that the vast majority of them have coaches. Coincidence? Probably not.
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