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Brad Sugars, Founder Of ActionCoach: "Owning A Business Can Be Very Lonely"
"If you've only learned to make $100,000 a year, that's the most you will ever make a year. If you've never learned how to run a ten million dollar a year business, then you can't run a ten million a year business." According to owner and founder Brad Sugars of ActionCoach it's that simple.
RocketHub sat down with Brad prior to one of his sold out coaching seminars in the Caribbean. Very relaxed, the Aussie tells all about his business and the entrepreneurial lessons he has learned over the years. Brad started ActionCoach when he was in his early twenties. Today the company is a globally operating business coaching firm. ActionCoach operates in 54 countries and has more than a thousand offices around the world, coaching 15,000 entrepreneurs every week.
"We coach business owners, day in and day out. We help them grow their business. Sometimes they need a little bit of a mindset shift to think on a higher or a different level. Part of my coaching seminars is to give people a three part shot in the arm. One's a mindset change. The second's a bit of enthusiasm and fun. The third is some knowledge, without any textbook or theoretical stuff."
A book a week
The road to success has been trial and error for Brad as well. "Unfortunately I as well had a little too much error along the way. But we all make mistakes and it's the fear of making those mistakes that keeps the most of us from pursuing our dreams. More dreams and goals are killed by fear than by mistakes. People don't even try to go after their dreams and goals at all. And then they wonder why they don't achieve them." He continues: "I was lucky enough at age of sixteen to be introduced to a gentleman by the name of Jim Rohn. Mr. Rohn taught me about the importance of reading. If you want to be a success, you need to read basically a book a week."
"You don't stop learning when you leave school. You actually start learning when you leave school. School only prepares you for a job. It doesn't prepare you for achieving wealth and riches. So you've got to keep studying and keep learning to be successful in business. Because when you as the owner stop learning, the business stops growing. You can't grow past the owner's level of competence. And if the owner doesn't know what to do, then the business is stagnant." He adds: "You're going to make mistakes. But don't make ones big enough to kill you off. Stepping in and just going for it when it comes to entrepreneurship isn't the most crucial thing either. But it's definitely up there in the top ten. I think the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who learn from their mistakes and don't do it again."
He emphasizes you've got to read as much as you can. "I literally sat down today and read a book at lunch. I'm a firm believer in doing that. The second thing you should do is get online today and get lessons from some of the best people in the world. YouTube is full of stuff. But the most important part is that you've got to have someone that mentors you. Nothing beats one-on-one. Having someone that knows what they're doing, guiding you, pushing, kicking you up the backside sometimes."
Get a mentor
Over the years Brad saw many business owners who weren't capable of finding a mentor. One of the reasons he started ActionCoach. "Owning a business can be very lonely. You can't talk to your staff about your problems and you surely don't want to tell your banker about your problems. Haha." He adds: "The biggest challenge is getting business owners to understand that the learning curve is probably the toughest part of owning a business."
According to the ActionCoach founder there are three reasons why coaching works. "One is coaches bring knowledge that you don't have. The second is that there's a discipline that a coach brings that you won't have on your own. Like it or not, most business owners give themselves the job as CEO of their business not because they're qualified, but because they're the owner. The third one's the outside perspective. When you're in your business every day, you kind of become blind to a lot of the opportunities, and for the way you're making mistakes. Having an outsider looking in is sometimes one of the most valuable things you can have in your business."
To what extent are people hesitant to have a business coach? "The public opinion has really changed over the years. But obviously there's no shame in having a business coach. Take a look at the sports world. Professional athletes feel proud to have a coach."
When did the public opinion about being coached in business change into something positive? "It's still shifting. And it hasn't fully moved over yet. Some people are still a bit scared of having a coach type thing. But the biggest reason it's changing is that people see the results of having a coach."
Brad had his own coach as well. "Yeah, my dad. He was a phenomenal mentor. He was probably the most blunt human being I've ever met and he still is to this day. I still remember going to my dad when I was about twenty years old, telling him 'dad, I can't get good employees. I can't find any good people'. And he just turned to me and says 'Brad, you get the people you deserve. If you're an average manager running an average company, you will only ever have average employees. Become good and you'll get good ones. Become great and you'll get great ones.' He gave me many life and business lessons."
Although Brad got a lot of great lessons from his father, the one about 'commitment and buckling down' that stuck with him the most is from his old rugby coach. "I played rugby in Australia and that particular coach taught us very clearly; if you want success in anything, you have to work for it. And that became very clear in our rugby practice and training sessions. He made us work for it. Especially on one particular hill. Endlessly we had to go up and down that hill. As much as we kids complained, he still made us do the hill. And in the end it paid off. We won."
Fun as a motivator
In Brad's opinion the hill taught him that staying committed is most important. "All has to do with finding the thing that you're good at and love to do. Someone once said if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. But in my opinion that's complete rubbish. Once you do what you love, you will work harder than you've ever worked before. Because you're doing something you love." He adds: "I have four kids that I don't ever want to be anything less than an example of doing the most you possibly can and giving everything your best. One of the biggest reasons you have to learn how to be successful in life and in business is so you can pass those skills onto your children."
The other thing that keeps him committed, are his clients. Brad says he reached a point in his life and career where he only wants to do what he actually enjoys. "Make it fun. If you don't make it fun, you're not going to enjoy it. You're not going to get good at it and therefore you're not going to succeed. You need to learn to love what you do.You need to learn to enjoy it and have fun with it. If you as the entrepreneur and owner of the business are not having fun, your staff will not like it either. And when your people aren't having fun, your customers aren't having fun. You don't want that because if your customers aren't enjoying doing business with you, they're not coming back."