1. Introduce yourself: who are you, what do you do, and why is it important?
I’m Bryan Charter. I’m a business coach and I run a business coaching organisation along with my business partner. We do both one-to-once and group coaching to enable business owners – support them, facilitate them – to drive their businesses forward and to the next level, whatever that might be for them.
It’s important because I work with small business owners, and small business is the engine of the U.K.’s economy. There are something like 370,000 businesses turning over between £100,000 and £1 million per year in London and the South East alone. They make up something like seventy-five percent of the employment, so helping these businesses to succeed is providing employment and pumping money into the economy. Ultimately I have a hope that the tools and techniques we’re developing could be used to help businesses in developing economies too.
2. What’s your most valuable skill?
I’m good at breaking a big picture plan down into the next actionable steps and honing in on the definitive stuff that people need to be focusing on and doing.
3. Describe a tool, technique or practice that makes a difference to your work.
It sounds basic, but something that I consistently emphasise is the combination of accountability and realism in what can be achieved in a business in the short term, whilst keeping an eye on the long term goals. We ask our clients to focus on where they want to be by the end of the year in the five functions of their business (marketing, sales, operations, finance, talent) and identify what their major objectives are in those areas for the quarter, and then planning on a monthly basis. Critically, we help them make sure that those actions are concrete and unambiguous – “What am I actually going to do this month that is concrete, actionable, and gets me moving and takes me in the direction that I want to go?” So for example, “Find new freelancers who can work with my team” isn’t actionable. “Have four conversations with people who might be able to help this month” is. Breaking things down into small enough bits helps you to take action onto larger goals and helps to prevent inertia. And having accountability around that really helps.
4. What advice do you most need to hear?
Enjoy the journey and take a long term view. It’s very easy in business to make a plan and start thinking it all needs to happen tomorrow. I can often get stressed about the rate of progress and not feel like we’ve moved forward fast enough in a month a quarter or even a year. I like what Dan Sullivan does, encouraging people to have a twenty-five year plan – one-hundred business quarters – and it helps to give perspective about short-term successes and failures. A good quarter is just one of 100 and the same is true for a bad one. Keep resetting and keep going and enjoy it while you do.
5. Suggest an endearing and humorous question for question number five – and answer it.
My questions is “What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done today?” – the answer being that I just ate a peanut-buttered crumpet that had fallen peanut-butter side down on the floor of my shed. It wasn’t the tastiest decision…
One last thing… Suggest one or two people you know whose answers you’d like to read, and who you think would enjoy answering.