Business Owners Need Truth Tellers


A new year and a new decade, and I’m more than a little excited about what’s to come.

Sharing insights, knowledge and experience in the role of executive coach and business mentor with some talented, super-creative and ambitious business owners has been such a great experience over the last couple of years, and so mutually rewarding. 

It’s always a privilege to have the complete trust of your clients and for them to be so willing to open themselves up to some pretty rigorous scrutiny on virtually every aspect of their business life, from planning and goal-setting to leadership behaviours and client service, and much more besides.

Being held to account in a truly honest open and constructive way can be a tad uncomfortable. I know because I’ve been at the receiving end of that process where someone asks of you to be completely open and honest – with yourself – about everything.  

That’s not something I believe many of us are capable of being without some objective, constructive external challenge.  

Constructive challenge, in a safe space and in a spirit of total trust without fear of judgment can be immensely powerful. 

For me, the experience was literally life-changing. It gave me back what I’d lost: clarity of thought, of vision and of purpose, greater satisfaction, peace of mind and improved relationships. I know that it’s achieved the same outcomes for many of the business owners I’ve worked with in the last two years. Lives have been changed and businesses transformed! How rewarding is that?

I know from my own experience how difficult it is to achieve that degree of clarity without external support. I’ve highlighted my experience in this TEDx talk.

Here’s one scenario I regularly come across and it’s the one I recognise only too well.

Entrepreneurs generally have some vision or aspiration when they launch a business. A few years in it’s all to easy to become totally absorbed and distracted by the pressures of getting the work in, delivering work, getting paid, making the mortgage payment and repeating the same process in what can feel like a never-ending cycle. 

Add to this the lean months, the inevitable loss of clients at the worse possible times, and a myriad of other distractions and it’s not difficult to understand how the vision can get obscured. 

Loss of clarity is usually accompanied by its close relatives: anxiety, dissatisfaction and fear. Not a good recipe for stable relationships, a successful business and a fulfilled and rewarding life.

Sometimes you need an insightful outsider to help you recognise and understand what’s really going on and help you get you back on track and back in control.

It’s difficult enough when you’re on your own but if you have people working for you who don’t know what you believe or where you want to take the business, how can you expect to get the best out of them, let alone keep them on the team?

You would expect the process of challenge and holding to account to focus sharply on aspects such as business planning and growth, mission and values, finances and profitability, brand-building, team unity and development, business acquisition and client service. 

These are some of the more obvious core considerations but there’s a lot more to effective coaching and mentoring than that. The role of mentor/coach has been wonderfully encapsulated by Hans Finzel in his book, Top Ten Ways To Be a Great Leader.

Every one of us needs a few people to tell us the truth about our hearts and souls. We all have weak spots and blind spots that we cannot navigate on our own. We need someone to remind us of our deepest aspirations and values; we need someone to warn us when we may be getting off track. We need someone to help us question our motives and examine our consciences. We need someone to perform spiritual surgery on us when our hearts get hard and our vision gets dim. We need a few truth-tellers.”

That’s the role my own mentor Alan Mullett has been fulfilling so effectively and with such life-changing outcomes for the last few years. His is the example I try to emulate with my own clients. It’s the satisfaction of seeing the difference that makes what we do so immensely rewarding.

So, if there’s angst, uncertainty or lack of clarity and direction in your business life (that might already be having a negative impact on your personal life) make today the day you start getting back on track and back in control. Let’s talk. I’ll buy the coffee.