Running a business comes with more than its fair share of risks and sacrifices. We all know business owners who might be commercially successful, yet they and their families struggle, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
Founder of London Business Coaching, and part of the ActionCOACH network, Parag Prasad helps entrepreneurs to achieve genuine success in more ways than one.
Parag started his coaching journey 12 years ago after witnessing friends and family members struggling with their businesses and their lives.
“I’ve seen first-hand the damage stress has on people, and upon those who are reliant on the person running the business. I realised that there’s got to be a better way for business people to achieve success.”
A chartered accountant by profession, Parag previously felt unfulfilled in his own role. He knew he wanted to impact more people’s lives. He was approached by ActionCOACH, the world’s largest business coaching firm, and six months later he took the step to begin his own practice. London Business Coaching has now coached more than 320 businesses in 12 years from every conceivable profession. His client base is largely made up of SMEs including the owners of Propercorn who went from making popcorn in their kitchen to a £25m business in under five years. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) were so impressed with his work that they wanted Parag and his team to coach the whole profession.
As a business coach, Parag peels back the layers to help anyone running a business clarify what they actually want, and to discover their dream – for themselves and for their business.
According to Parag, the three most common issues that business owners have are:
Time. Working too many hours, stress, overwhelm and burnout. He uses the ‘hamster wheel’ analogy…busy running and giving, but nothing’s really changing.
Team. The teams may not be performing well because they are not being managed well, or are not engaged enough to care. This means that employees are just going through the motions, but when something goes wrong, the buck stops with the business owner.
Money. Though the business may be doing fine, they want it to do better. They may want more personal income and financial independence.
“Underlying these is the business owner’s desire to step back from their business and have it work more without them,” he adds. “A business being less reliant on the owner reduces the stress and the work that goes with it. The person who steers the ship doesn’t have to be the one who does all the work.”
Like the sports coach on the side lines, Parag describes his role as challenging business owners for better performance. He asserts that for positive change you have to have the right mentality. “Not everyone’s ready for personal change. If you are too comfortable there’s no real driver,” he says.
“To be coached, you should have massive aspirations and dreams because you are fired up and want to make a difference in your own and others’ lives – you’re trying to achieve something that is more than just about yourselves,” says Parag.
Parag explains that there are two types of mind-sets he typically deals with – fixed and growth. “Those with a growth mind-set are looking for personal development,” he says. “They understand that they need to want to learn and change in order to grow. On the other hand, those with a fixed mentality are the ‘I know’ people. They know their business, their industry, and no one can tell them better…I can’t help those people.”
The crucial question, suggests Parag, is ‘why?’ “Coaching is a challenging process. We need to find out what their emotional drivers are for wanting to achieve their goals? What’s really driving them?”
Parag’s coaching programmes are run in small groups, one-to-ones, and bespoke programmes for teams. He breaks the process down into three stages: education, implementation and personal transformation. “We start by filling in the gaps,” says Parag. “Do they need to learn best practice on recruitment, marketing, or time management? This is followed by implementation where they have to put those concepts into place in the business.”
Perhaps most importantly, the personal transformation component helps the owner to take the business to a level beyond what’s possible through hard work and knowledge alone. “Who does that person need to evolve into? What’s going on in someone’s head that’s stopping them doing the thing they need to do? That’s where we see people make the biggest changes.”
It’s important to select your coach just as you would any other supplier. Parag says that one should immediately look for results. “What track record does the coach have for getting tangible results – financial or non-financial? What’s the return? It’s a big deal for someone to open up their business to an outsider. So they have to trust that the coach both cares and has the competence to deliver results.
“I call myself an unreasonable friend. I’m not a shoulder to cry on. I’m tough on people because I want to get them results and a return on investment. I have seen the transformational impact that business coaching has and the gratitude of people we’ve coached.
“I had never imagined the life changing impact that my team and I have had on business owners. Now I get to see people who say they feel 20 years younger, and have changed their lives positively.”
Photographs by Kam Parmar for Asian Wealth
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