Only about 1/3 of small businesses survive to their 10th year. Those that do are here for the long haul. So reaching a 10 year anniversary is worth a sizeable celebration, not just because you survived but because of what you learned along the way.
If only we’d known 10 years ago what we know now, we’d probably have more money in the bank and a bigger company, it’s true. But that kind of thinking isn’t practical, it isn’t productive, and can create paralysis.
While the pandemic postpones our big party plans, we’re marking our 10th time around the sun with a look back. But we’re not looking back with regret. We’re analyzing the mistakes and pulling out the most important things we’ve learned. And our goal is that you and all the small business owners who read this will benefit.
Here’s a Q and A with Roger and Susie as they take a break from looking forward and scrutinize their first 10 years.
Why did you start Inspire Results? Was there a specific motivating incident or more of a calling?
Roger’s uniquely suited for and born to be a business coach. Experiences at West Point and in the army caused him to settle on servant leadership as his primary style and enables him to see the potential in people and businesses. Running 2 small businesses and working at Develop Indy, meeting with business owners who had little guidance and support, exposed the need for business coaching in Roger’s mind. He’s always had a passion for helping people and businesses fulfill their potential. This combined with one of his favorite stories from the bible, the story of Hannah, caused him to feel it was God’s leading.
So, yes, it was a calling. We started out as Hannah Business Coaching in 2010. The name Inspire Results Business Coaching came 4 years later, in 2014, when our then marketing company advised us that “Hannah” was not very marketable.
What is your favorite memory from your first year in business?
It’d be easier to say what our least favorites were because there were a lot of them. Still, we discovered that small business owners we worked with were genuine, good, hard-working people who were trying to do the right thing for employees and customers. Seeing the dramatic impact on Dave Cox, one of our first clients, and his business, Indiana Precision Grinding, was more than heart-warming. Definitely a thrill to get this quote from Dave from that time (sorry for the bragging) —
“I recently analyzed the impact of business coaching on my financials. I knew things were better but was amazed at how much. Over the 6 months prior to working with Roger, our net income was $23,000. After 6 months of working with Roger, our 6-month profit was $159,148, even after paying a bonus to employees. Some of that was from new business but over $125,000 was directly attributable to Roger’s work with me—a nearly 400% return on my annual investment in coaching.
Key changes were that Roger helped me focus like a laser on profitability and then helped me focus my key employees in the same way. He helped me change what I believed was possible in terms of the level of success I deserve. It may sound strange but I was sabotaging myself to stay in my comfort zone. With these kinds of profits and a renewed vision for myself and my business, I can change my life and the lives of my employees forever—both exhilarating and scary!”
Dave Cox, President and Owner
Here’s a pic of Dave and Roger in 2011.
Was there immediate demand for your services or was the concept of business coaching new to your market?
For sure it was new to the market and still is somewhat foreign. When someone asks us what we do and we say “business coaching,” we usually get a blank stare. Awkward.
We’ve done a lot of networking with business coaches around the world and business coaching is prevalent in England and Australia and other countries. It’s hard to get US business owners, independent entrepreneurial types by nature, to raise their hands and ask for help. It takes a bit of humbling. Plus, people don’t know how business coaching works—do you meet with the coach regularly? What are those conversations like? Will I be embarrassed by what a business coach will find out about me? About my business? How much does it cost?
Despite the lack of prevalence in the US, we felt that with Roger’s background in running companies and Susie’s background in executive coaching and leadership facilitation, we’re uniquely suited for business coaching.
Did you face the same growth challenges that your clients face today? How did you overcome those challenges?
Yes! We’re business owners too. As we grew, we maintained our recognizing when and what to hire others to do or outsource. It took Roger 3 years to convince Susie, who was doing all the finance, marketing, and operations, to hire an assistant. Susie still says today it was the best move she ever made. Kena Butz joined in 2017 and works with a sense of ownership that makes her absolutely invaluable!
As complexity increases, as it does when any business grows, you’ve got to increase your capacity or you’ll be overwhelmed. So we experience constantly, at the first and now; it’s something business owners have to be constantly vigilant about.
We’ve had the same failures as any business owner and we’ve learned from each one. We hired 4 marketing companies in 7 years spending tens of thousands of dollars. We use each misstep as an opportunity to grow and get better. Changing the company name, for example, isn’t something we’d advise as it caused us to lose ground. Business is complex! There’s no way to run a business without making mistakes. It’s how quickly you learn, adjust, and re-engage that makes the difference.
The economy has been on a rollercoaster ride for the life of your business… How have you managed to grow and develop during the ups and downs?
Each timeframe requires innovating and adjusting and this is how coaching can be helpful. i.e. the more turmoil and problems, the more valuable a business coach can be. We coached many businesses successfully through the pandemic… when you’re uncertain, it helps to have someone solid by your side. That’s how we coach. Having someone you can bounce your fears off of and help you find a way forward is exactly what coaching is all about. We helped clients maintain their momentum even in the midst of one of the most uncertain times in history.
What is the key piece of advice you gave to clients during economic downturns?
Don’t slow down. Don’t lose momentum; it’s too hard to come back from. Find innovative ways because there are always opportunities. If you focus on the negatives you’ll miss the opportunities. Compare all the restaurants who closed their doors during the pandemic to the success of those that reinvented their processes to become the best curbside service, or takeout service, or hand sanitizer maker, etc… in many cases, they came out even better than before the pandemic.
What makes Inspire Results different from other business coaches or consultants?
Our focus on practicality. We find no value in broad, abstract platitudes and we don’t like extra words. We give real solutions to real problems in real time. Our written materials are conversational but concise.
We don’t give solutions and leave business owners to implement them. Instead, we work right alongside you and sometimes we even take the work home and do it for you. If we recommend you create an organization chart or make a budget but you don’t have the time to do it, we’ll make it for you (and we’ve made a lot of them).
What is the most significant way Inspire Results has changed over the past 10 years?
There’s no one thing, rather it’s been constant changes and growing in small ways from the very first day. Every quarter we read a top business book and from that we create a summary and practical tools customized to small business. So over 10 years, we’ve amassed an arsenal of practical tools to address any situation in which business owners find themselves.
Where do you see the company in 5 years? 10 years?
In addition to Kena, 3 business coaches have joined us.
Natalie Menke started in 2018. A former small business owner and CEO of Universal Blower Pac and a former client of Inspire Results, she’s a perfect match for our culture of fast, practical solutions.
Chad Blacklock joined in 2019 and with a strong background in finance recently received a coaching certification from the John Maxwell group.
Brad Justus joined in 2019 with an MBA and many business owners have seen increased profits and streamlined operations from his coaching expertise.
We expect to keep adding coaches. We want to penetrate broadly and deeply in the communities in which we work in order to make those communities great places to live, work, and thrive. And we see those communities being not only across Indiana but across the country and beyond. We’ve already been working with clients and prospects in England and Hong Kong. There’s so much untapped market and not a lot of competitors.
In 2010 when we coached our first business coaching clients, Haiti was struck with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded causing the largest marine oil spill in history, and the EU began bailing Greece out of financial crisis. When bad things happen to good people, Inspire Results Business Coaching has been in the trenches with small business owners. As with the 2020 pandemic, small business owners have struggled and reached out and we’re right there alongside them with a focus on people, profit, and passion.