Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, learned his lessons the hard way, when tough times during the GFC forced him to shut down his franchises and downsize his business.
“I went from being the CEO of a global business coaching franchise back to being largely a business coach again. It was a complete rebuild, going back to focusing on doing my own marketing and meeting clients… back to the basics and all the things you did in the beginning – except you’ve got no money to do it with.”
Persistence pays off
While Dale admits his confidence was shaken, he didn’t let his setbacks bring him down. He put in the hard yards to keep his business afloat, and now employs a team of business coaches, with a view to continue to expand Small Fish in the future.
“I’ve gone out there trying to be a business coach and find clients again, and it’s harder than it was in 2006 when I started but there’s still business out there. I’ve worked really hard and done all of the things that I know worked, and lo and behold it’s starting to pay off.”
The key to finding the motivation to keep going has been the realization that, while the market has shrunk, it hasn’t disappeared altogether, says Dale.
“I use that to reassure myself that I’m not wasting my time. You have to focus on the process a little bit too and you have to know that going to your networking group or investing time and energy in your website is worthwhile.”
Persistence is one of the most crucial, and difficult, aspects to recovery after a setback, says Dale.
“It’s very easy for people to try things and give up, move on, say ‘That’s not working’ and go and try something else, whereas really a lot of these things that we do require a good long go. You can’t go and see five people and say ‘Oh no one’s interested anymore I’m going to stop’ or ‘I’m going to stop putting my ad out there because of four people who called me who weren’t suitable’.”
Breaking it down
Dale found breaking goals down into manageable chunks, using something he terms ‘reduction to the ridiculous’, helps with this.
“It’s about breaking it down into things you can influence,” says Dale. “You can’t sit there and say ‘I’ll write 200 loans in a year’ but you can get up every day and make enough phone calls or go to enough meetings to get you on the right track."
Dale gives similar advice to his staff, and also requires them to report to him regularly on their marketing, lead generation and communications.
“If you’ve got advisors and planners working for you hold them accountable for that activity. I’d ask my clients to report back to me and I’d ask them ‘How many times yesterday did your business ask somebody to consider your service or product?’
“It’s particularly important for people like advisors because we’ve got to go and prospect ourselves. You can’t sit and expect your aggregator’s website to send you inquiries. You can buy a shop front if you’re Advisor Choice or somebody and expect your signage to draw a few people in but you’ve got to go and see people and network and ask them to consider you in a very direct way.”
Picking yourself back up after a fall is never easy, but by focusing on the small things and determining what gets you motivated you can find success again, says Dale.
“It’s about that persistence. Most of the people that have failed have failed because they gave up. If you keep the faith and you do the things that you know work you can succeed.”
Every business goes through its rough patches, and many brokers have had more than their fair share in recent years. So how can you pick yourself back up after a setback? And what happens if you have to completely rebuild?