As I expect many of you have heard, the government backed Business Growth Service is no more. Business Growth Service or Growth Accelerator (as it was more commonly known) provided funding for coaching and leadership & management training and was a cost effective way for SMEs to get some external help. Indeed many coaches and trainers have built a significant part of their revenues from the programme, so this is bad news for both SMEs and coaches!
This did get me thinking about the topic I frequently discuss with clients – what business decisions do you make when revenues are down? This is a dilemma that many coaches will now be facing.
What I suspect we will see is many ‘special offers’ and discounts appearing as revenues start to decrease because when times are tough we typically do one of 2 things:
We think the way to entice clients to work with us is by being cheaper than the competition so we discount our work and fill our ‘order book’ delivering lower cost work.
We take on the wrong type of work
Business is looking tough so in order to keep busy and keep staff employed we take on any type of vaguely appropriate work. Yet the problem with this is it is harder to fulfil; it’s not in our core area of expertise so we end up over servicing and we run the risk of the customer being unhappy with our work, which in turn damages our reputation and brand.
The net result is we get busy but profits fall whilst stress levels rise. And since we are busy we have no time to look for the more appropriate targeted work that we know we can excel at. It becomes a vicious circle.
The outcome of all this is that some businesses will be unable to operate and the coaching market will consolidate to some extent.
What should you do?
First of all, hold your nerve! Think about why customers buy from you and focus on that. Also you need to get clear about your niche and focus on that even more (because niche businesses can usually charge more). Most importantly hang tight on your pricing and service levels (that are appropriate to that niche) and instead get smarter and work harder at all aspects of sales & marketing, and use your niche to position yourself against the competition.
Growth Accelerator may have gone, and for many, it was a key sales channel but there are other ways to fill your pipeline and those that act now will be the ones that are still here in 2 years time.