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Consulting Traction in 6 Easy Steps: A Business Fable of Helping Clients Reach Their Dreams

Imagine it is your last counseling session of the year with one of your favorite clients, Zoe. Together you are celebrating her record-setting year-end profits and revenue. For the first time ever, she was able to pay meaningful bonuses and her team is ecstatic. She’s made plans to invest some of her profits in a new location. Yes, there were challenges along the way, but for the first time Zoe felt her business’s performance was not all on her shoulders. Her team stepped up and were instrumental in making it happen.

As you and Zoe reflected on what made the difference, six key steps stood out.

1. Start with the End in Mind

At your first coaching session with Zoe, you asked questions that caused her to think about her long-term future and what she wanted for her business and her family. You talked about her exit strategy and timeline and defined a goal for what she’d like her business to be worth. You helped her determine what profits her business needs to generate along the way to support that target value.

With exit goals established, you showed her how to use Breakeven PLUS to calculate the sales and margins needed for the business to grow sustainably. Then you helped Zoe build a budget to be her monthly financial roadmap.

In addition to the numbers, you had Zoe envision her ideal work/life balance. One of her goals was to be offline as much as possible when she took some vacation time (something she hadn’t done in years). She also wanted to spend her work time on tasks she liked doing and did well.

2. Get the Team Involved

Zoe shared her goals with her team in her first-ever off-site retreat. In her post-retreat recap with you, she said her team appreciated her confidence in them and hearing about her goals and dreams for the business. The team, in turn, shared their frustration about being sent in too many directions. They even told Zoe that her time could have been better spent. This led to an interesting discussion about the things they thought Zoe excelled at and what she didn’t. Some of it was hard to hear but she made herself focus on listening instead of being defensive.

3. Create a Meaningful KPI Scorecard

At the next session, you and Zoe created a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Scorecard of monthly goals tied to her yearly goals. Some were financial goals, like revenue, gross profit, labor costs and expense controls. Others were marketing, systems, and customer satisfaction goals.

Since you wanted her KPI scorecard to fit on one page, you and Zoe evaluated each KPI to see how important it was to her overall yearly goals. If it measured something vital to meet the goals, it stayed on the scorecard. If not, off it went.

4. Create Source People for each KPI

No longer was it all up to Zoe to achieve the goals. She needed to create accountability and structure to measure progress (or lack of progress) so she could take corrective action along the way. Zoe assigned each KPI goal to a Source Person on the team. This person was accountable for meeting the goal but could enlist or assign responsibilities to others to get it done.

5. Conduct Monthly SET Meetings to Review KPI Progress

You helped Zoe set up a monthly Strategic Execution Team (SET) meeting to review her KPI scoresheet. You coached her to create a strong agenda and conduct the meeting. Before each meeting, a team member updated the scorecard with the actual monthly results compared to the goal for each KPI. During each meeting, Zoe and her team celebrated when the team met or exceeded the goal and brainstormed the proper course of action when they didn’t. Zoe was pleased to see team members find innovative solutions to problems that weren’t even in their area of responsibility.

As the year progressed, it quickly became apparent if a team member habitually did not meet goal despite extra coaching, training and support. This forced her to take tough but necessary action.

One of the biggest changes this year was how Zoe spent her time at work. She found her team was more than willing to call her out when she got involved in tasks not worthy of her time. Different team members took over duties she disliked doing (and often put off). She admitted her team was much better (and more efficient) at these duties.

For the first time she had the time and energy to work “on” the business instead of “in” it. Most days she looked forward to going to the office and on her days off, she was truly off-line (for the most part!). As she headed out the door, Zoe excitedly shared that she was on her way to ask her star team member to be the general manager of the new location.

6. Coach Don’t Tell! Master Coaching Skills and Financial Analysis Skills

As you reflect on Zoe’s success, you realized that investing time to develop strong coaching skills and mastering a key financial analysis skill like Breakeven PLUS really paid off in your effectiveness. By asking powerful questions and being a curious, open-minded collaborator (instead of a subject matter expert) you helped Zoe “own” her solutions. This helped her get clear on her desired outcomes, keeping her focused on her goals. It turns out that the ASBDC 2023 PreCon workshop, Level Up Your Financial Coaching: Profitable Growth from Day 1, yielded a high ROI for you and the business community you passionately serve.

Ready to Take Your Financial Coaching Skills to the Next Level? Join us for our SBDC 2023 Pre-Con Workshop

Profit Soup is excited to invite you to a special Pre-Conference Workshop guaranteed to take your financial coaching skills to the next level! The highly-rated full-day session, Level Up Your Financial Coaching: Profitable Growth from Day 1, is offered at ASBDC 2023 on Tuesday, September 5th from 9 am to 4 pm. This fun, interactive program will boost your financial coaching skills and confidence and equip you with practical tools you can immediately apply to with consulting clients to set and achieve strong financial goals.

At Profit Soup, we deliver financial training that sticks. We are confident that you will find the program engaging and informative. You will practice skills that improve your financial coaching impact while networking with other SBDC professionals.

For more information about the program or to register, click here. Questions? Contact us at or 206.388.3888.

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