Today we are introducing you to Colin who has been a Many Rivers business coach for five years. With a wealth of business knowledge and experience across many industries, Colin is helping people in Perth, WA achieve their business goals.
Colin has had a dynamic career and has lived in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. His experience varies from industries including dairy farming, social media marketing for the hair and beauty sector, and the steel industry. Colin was a Many Rivers business coach in Roma QLD for two years before taking up the same role in Perth three years ago.
“That is one thing about working with Many Rivers. You start off with clients – but you end up with friends. Seeing them succeed is what motivates me everyday. Seeing what they do. Sometimes I see what they are doing and I think ‘wow I could never do that’. We have our own skill set to help them succeed but then looking at what they do is so motivating. So I don’t have favourite memories, I just think most of what I do creates memories. It’s about the people.”
Continue reading to hear Colin explain his role as a Many Rivers business coach, and what motivates him to help people start, stay and thrive in business.
My first career was in a diary farm in the UK. When I left that I went into technology. I worked for technology companies and I had my own business three times. The first one was doing admin support for local businesses. I created websites, did emails, typing, desktop publishing and database work. My second business was social media marketing when Facebook was new. Our key clients were hair and beauty businesses. I sold out to my business partners because after a while it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach and empower and he wanted to do it himself. Then I went into a company that sold agricultural equipment and then I ended up in the steel industry. That was in New Zealand and then I moved to Australia, Roma QLD. There, I worked for a company that supplied water fittings to agricultural and gas industries in Roma, and I was the operational manager. I had heard about Many Rivers earlier in the year before I started the position. I had said if that position at Many Rivers came up, I would take it, and that is exactly what happened!
His Experience As A Many Rivers Business Coach
Many Rivers is a not-for-profit that is set up to help people who want to start and grow a business but they are struggling to get support because they don’t have the finances to do so.
A business coaches role is large and varied. It is lots of different things. We help a client firstly understand what business is about and help them work out if they are right for business and if business is right for them. Then we go through the process of getting them set up for business with planning, legal requirements and insurance requirements. We get them in the best place that they could possibly be to start on their journey. Once they have started in business, we work with them to make sure that they are doing all of the backend, admin business stuff correctly such as record keeping and marketing. We are a sounding board for them when they have new ideas.
When they are not sure what to do in a situation, I never give them an answer. As a coach, I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. Sometimes you have to jump in, help them and guide them along and give them part of the answer if they really don’t know. But I try and help them arrive at the answer themselves. One of my favourite questions is ‘if you weren’t able to get hold of me today, what would you have done.’ They usually tell me the actions that they would have taken and 75% of the time it is right action for them to take, I think the other part of being a business coach is actually to build their confidence as a business owner.
Colin’s Best Skills
I think my best skill is just being myself and also empathy. I grew up in a family of five children and we didn’t have much money. Having gone through what my clients have gives me empathy and when they tell me things it doesn’t shock me, I know what its like to be in their shoes. I think positivity and looking on the bright side is helpful. If someone tells you bad news there is always good news to go with that. Finally, my experience of working in high level roles within businesses and starting my own businesses. If I had to chose one skill though, I think that it is my confidence around technology.
A Day In The Life Of A Business Coach
Organized chaos! I generally try and meet with three to four clients every day. I’m usually up and out from about 7.30am because I love what I do. Most of my clients are about an hour’s drive away. I get to my first appointment a bit early so that I can do some work before they get there. I spend the time in between client meetings doing some research and doing some learning for myself.
If there is a learning point I encountered with one client then I share it to all other clients where it is appropriate. Then I also spend some time during the day talking to other business coaches to share knowledge.
Favourite Memory At Many Rivers
I have a few. Not necessarily favourite memories but things that stay as memories.
My first client, he told me his background, he had been in prison, he was unemployed, he had no money and he wanted to start a business. He knew what he wanted to do. I told him that now we got that out of the way lets get going and he responded ‘no, you won’t want to work with me.’ I told him no, actually I do. That was from five years ago and he’s still a client and still doing very well with his business.
There was another amazing, young, Indigenous man who was a really nice guy and wanted to do ready good things for his family, himself and his people. Both of these clients, I see them as friends now.
That is one thing about working with Many Rivers. You start off with clients – but you end up with friends. Seeing them succeed is what motivates me everyday. Seeing what they do. Sometimes I see what they are doing and I think ‘wow I could never do that’. We have our own skill set to help them succeed but then looking at what they do is so motivating. So I don’t have favourite memories, I just think most of what I do creates memories. Its about the people.
How has a client surprised you?
I have a client who I started working with and she was running a family support business. Her aim was working with new parents during that first month when they can’t think straight. She will go in and do the washing, the vacuuming, take the baby for a few hours so that parents can take a nap and that sort of thing. I thought that maybe the world isn’t quite ready for this kind of service yet so I suggested to just start with babysitting. She was very determined not to do this.
Earlier this year she had to stop her business planning because of the lockdown regulations due to the pandemic. During COVID-19 she rang me and said that she had started up her business and was just doing babysitting. She had done it for one client and enjoyed it so much she decided to run with it. She still wants to grow to her business idea to what she originally had planned but this is a good starting point.
What would you say to someone who has a business idea but is nervous about taking that first step?
When I first talk to them, I generally don’t talk to them about the business idea straight away. I asked them what their motivation is to start a business. I really want to know about them and what got them here to think that business is the right move. Some people say that they can’t get a job and need to make money. But I want to know about them, and their family and I tell them about Many Rivers. Then I ask about the business idea and you can tell that they are a bit nervous. As long as it is a half decent idea, I know I can work with them and help them with it.
I tell them the first thing that we are going to do is some research. We have to find out about competition and have a look at what their offering. I will do this in front of them, quickly, and then ask them to tell me what they will do that is different to the competitors. As long as they have a point of difference, I know that they have a really good opportunity. If it is the same then we know that there are other people that are successful so we know that this idea is possible. Then I make sure I let them know what my next steps are and the layout what the next meeting is going to be about so that they can prepare.
Colin’s Business Tip
I have a client who is a florist. She will post a picture on Instagram or Facebook of some flowers and she will just caption ‘here is today’s best bouquet’. I tell her that that doesn’t drive me to want to buy flowers. So we came up with 10 – 15 little one-liners like ‘everyday is valentines day’. It makes customer a bit more motivated to go and buy flowers. The other thing I told her was to do her profit and loss every month and so I linked her up with a bookkeeper. She has made a lot of money in sales and made a big profit in the last eight months, all in her first year.
Book and Podcast Recommendations
Books by Mick Michalowicz. I’ve read quite a few books of his. They are really good and practical. A few of them are ‘Profit first’, ‘Pumpkin plan’, ‘Fix this next’. I listen to them as audio books and I listen to loads of podcasts too. Some of them are on business and some are on personal development. I think that we help our clients with personal development just as much as we help them with business.
Thanks Colin for sharing your experience as a Many Rivers business coach.
Colin’s client, Morgan, was recently featured in an article by Google.org on ”Celebrating the women entrepreneurs in Asia Pacific”
We want to encourage more and more people to take that first step towards building on their small business ideas, or their existing business.
We’re here to support you the whole way.