The Harvard Business Review is a great magazine for consultants, however, it usually focuses on challenges for much larger businesses than most independent advisory firms.
But recently I came across “business coach” Peter Bregman’s Nov. 9, 2018, story: “If You Want to Get Better at Something, Ask Yourself These Two Questions.” In it, Bregman does a nice job of addressing an issue that many of our advisory firm owner clients struggle with — change.
I find that many owner-advisors have a difficult time “doing things differently,” even when they want their businesses to change, usually to get larger, be more profitable, or both.
Bregman approaches the issue with a story about coaching his son to become a better skier. But the issues are the same, whether you want to grow faster, lower your golf scores, or build a better business.
Writes Bregman: “Whatever it is, you can become better at it. But here’s the thing I know just as clearly as I know you can get better at anything. You will not get better if : 1) you don’t want to and 2) you aren’t willing to feel the discomfort of doing things differently.”
Most advisory firm owners have a very hard time “doing things differently.” For one thing, doing what they are currently doing has gotten them where they are today, and that’s what they tell me, again and again. To which, I point out, again and again, that’s fine as long as you are happy with where your business is today.
If, on the other hand, you’re not happy with your business today, or you’d be happier with it if it was larger, more profitable, growing faster, etc., then you’re going to have to do some things differently, and deal with the discomfort that it involves.
For most firm owners, at least at first, there will be considerable discomfort. Changing your firm, even for the better, requires taking some pretty uncomfortable steps.
For instance, accepting help isn’t easy for many firm owners. Sure, they like employees to tell them how happy they are with their jobs, and with the firm. But when it comes to problem areas that they need help on and/or things that could be done better, many owners get defensive.