Diederik van Niekerk has years of business experience, both in local and international markets. In 2014 he qualified as a Business Coach with ActionCOACH and since then he has had great success stories in the central region. Woman and Business interviewed the coach to find out: What is business coaching all about, and should we consider?
Why does every Businesswoman need a business coach?
Coaching by definition means to help someone achieve a desired result. Just like any top athlete never stops using a coach, no business owner should be without coaching help. A business coach can lead you to success by using proven, systemised methods. Remember that a coach’s success is directly linked to yours. Furthermore your business coach brings creativity, experience and advice to the table and becomes someone to hold you accountable.
What kind of services do business coaches offer?
The main vision here is to help business owners to grow more profitable business, to stress less in their day-to-day lives and to appoint, retrain or grow great staff according to your positive business culture. Our services may include giving free information, advice, sharing books, CDs, DVDs and presenting seminars, right up to our top level 1-2-1 coaching programmes.
We also have group coaching programmes available. ActionCOACH can also help you to create world class business plans and we now have courses available in digital marketing (social media).
What don’t you offer?
I don’t do NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), psychotherapy or counselling. Primarily we offer pure business advice, and then some personal growth training which supports the implementation of good business practice.
ActionCOACH Business Coaching International is the world’s number one business coaching company since 2004 (Entrepreneur magazine)
ActionCOACH has a guarantee – that you will be able to find your coaching fee in your business after three months. How does this work?
In our weekly 1-2-1 coaching programme we guarantee that the coach will be able to pay his fee from the growth that has been generated in your business within the first 17 weeks since you started coaching. Coaching is not an overnight quick fix – it asks of the business owner to be focused on the process, implementing advice and proposed changes. But the results and the growth are incredible if you spend time on it, work hard and with great dedication.
You often help companies who are in dire straits. Obviously this is not an ideal situation – to ask for help when you are at wit’s end. What, according to your experience, are the three things that go wrong in business and ultimately make the business fail?
In my experience the greatest culprit is cash flow. A business cannot flourish if it cannot pay its basic expenses and operations, and for this you need cash flow. Whenever cash flow becomes the problem, owners often focus on this problem en this takes their attention away from areas that are important for business growth: marketing, sales and systems. These three areas are expensive and also need cash flow.
Other reasons why business go bust would be unnecessary and high expenses, or rather bad financial management. Owners who do not understand their figures make bad decisions and any business can only take so much for so long. Many businesses fail when owners spend time on the wrong areas, often too little time on marketing, sales, staffing and client services.
Is business that difficult? Many unqualified people start and run highly successful businesses. What is their secret?
Business, in my opinion, is not difficult, but it is also not easy. Most new entrepreneurs have technical knowledge of their industry and they think this would suffice to create a successful business. If you are good at baking, for instance, it is enough to start a bakery, but if you don’t learn to think like a business owner instead of a baker soon, you will always just be a baker who works in the business. You can only start to think and act like a true business owner once you have acquired and practiced the skills you need.
What are YOUR personal strengths as a business coach?
I think I am a well-balanced analytical thinker with international business experience and good people skills. I understand the complexities in business and together with my experience and training, it gives me insight into difficult problems and their obvious solutions. I really care about my clients and I am passionate about their success.
Have you failed at business? Would you care to share?
Successful business owners know that it is imperative to fail at business a few times. It gives you the opportunity to learn and become better. Failing, I believe, is a man-made concept. Any business owner who befriends so-called ‘failure’ understands the way to success. It is the only way to learn, to make positive changes and change direction timeously.
My first business was a coffee shop in Northgate Shopping Centre in Randburg. I started it with a business partner and we had to sell this business within a year. Revenue was not the problem, but the profits were not there and it was not worth the time and effort in the end. I always say that this experience served as my practical MBA. Everything I know about business I started to learn during those times. Revenue is nothing without profit. Return on investment (ROI) is vital, but return on effort (ROE) is just as important.
Have your clients had any huge successes?
Nov-U (Jaclyn Engelbrecht) has had 100% growth in 12 months, The Nail House (Rayna Cramer) het 90% growth in three months en she won small retailer of the year at the SA BEFA awards 2015. SMT Labs (Bernd Theissinger) showed a growth of 900% in 15 months, while Legend Construction & Safety Equipment (Theo Ferreira) grew with 150% in only 14 months.
Are you excited about the future of business in our country? Why?
I believe, and I also teach my clients, that you are responsible for your own results. You choose to manage your external conditions or they manage you – and you use it as an excuse. Only the first option leads to real results. There are so many businesses who flourish and grow in spite of what is happening in the South African economy.
Which three books would you give entrepreneurs to read?
Start with WHY by Simon Sinek, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber, and Secrets of Closing the Sale (updated) by Zig Ziglar.
What motivates you every day to get up and go on?
My love and gratefulness towards God. The knowledge that He is driving, and who I am, and what I do, are all part of his bigger plan for my life. My love for my wife and children are also a great motivator.
Which ONE thing can every businesswomen who reads this interview do TODAY to grow her business?
Measure where your clients come from. Learn to see marketing as an investment, not an expense.
ActionCOACH Bloemfontein is giving away a free 1.5 hours business evaluation for every reader who contacts them with regards to this interview.