M: Well, it’s an opportunity for me to deepen my understanding of what … you are part of my target market, the people I’m talking with are small business owners and entrepreneurs. That’s my target market. So, you were just a natural idea of somebody who can say ‘ok, this kind of coaching was helpful, that was a waste of time. And I needed it for X, and I wanted XY out of it, and what the structure was’, and all that. So it’s super helpful, because, the thing about any kind of studies is that you can get kind of lost in your own bubble. I don’t want to be lost in the coaching bubble. It’s super critical for me to keep … It’s very much what Michael Gerber’s talking about. … If you want to grow your business, whether your want to grow it big or not, you have to take the client perspective. What does the client need and how can you deliver it. That’s really where it’s at for me and I find that this can be a surprisingly challenging question to get a good answer to.
S: You have to have a certain level of experience to really see all the shades of quality that you can get from coaching. You’re talking about … what people are getting out of coaching.
M: Yeah, what sorts of needs, what prompts them to go get coaching in the first place. What’s the impetus? Where’s the pain that makes them go looking for somebody and what kind of person do they go looking for?
S: Interesting. It has completely changed with me. Going back to the Michael Gerber or this German version of this book, I … have also looked at all these, what is it, design thinking, all these methodologies for innovation management, something I’ve looked at quite a bit in the past year, and it’s interesting to see all these different techniques. Mostly I think they’re aimed at bigger companies that have structural problems, because they’ve become too slow or they’re lacking innovation. I’m just wondering whether as a small entrepreneur you really need technical knowledge. I mean, after a while it’s a no-brainer. You should know what you need to keep your business running. I mean technically. You know you need to file your taxes, how you write a contract for this particular niche of product you’re selling. It’s not rocket science. After a certain while you know what to do, and the kind of coaching I got at the beginning was coaching I got because I never went to business school, so it was sort of business school for me. How to write a business plan, how to read all these numbers and I don’t need that any more. … What I was just thinking is, ‘what kind of coaching would I choose now?’, because what I have now I don’t consider coaching in the traditional sense …
M: Oh, Ok. Oh that’s interesting.
S: and I wouldn’t go back to this marketing woman, though she was great, or this other woman, because basically I know what to do, but I need someone who kicks my ass. The great thing about EO is they do offer … the core of EO is a monthly meeting, the so-called Forum, where you meet with other entrepreneurs. It’s a fixed group, about eight people, and this monthly meeting follows a certain gestalt, so you have a certain protocol that you run through, and a certain gestalt of communications, certain things you don’t say and … in the end … basically it’s a self-help group for entrepreneurs.
M: A meeting of your peers.
S: Yeah, a meeting of your peers. And at every meeting there are two topics to be discussed, presented by two people, and then you get feedback. … And funnily enough, this German guy, who wrote the German version of the Gerber book, started a similar thing. He brings together entrepreneurs. They meet on a quarterly basis, but for a whole day. I assume it’s a similar set-up where they have brain-storming sessions, where they coach each other on what’s important, but it’s also this high level of trust, where everything is confidential, and they follow a certain protocol and gestalt. It’s interesting, because you could say he’s a coach, but he’s moderating and he’s enabling a certain communication that is hard to start if … it’s for you. I think it’s easier to initiate this sort of communication from the outside, where you bring people together and you moderate. … and this is what I was thinking when you said you are trying to better understand your core customer or core market. This is something I see lacking for all these smaller companies, business owners, entrepreneurs that’s a kind of feed-back or exchange most of them don’t get. So … that might be something that could be interesting for you as a certain specialization, or a certain need that is latent but not blatant. … Because they don’t understand what they miss. Once they understand what it is, they see what benefits it brings to them. And I see, especially a lot of these small entrepreneurs, they don’t see these three different roles, and they don’t see the struggle they’re having, and they don’t have anybody to talk to, or if they do, they talk to friends and family and they’re not objective …
M: Yeah, or they don’t have the experience.
M: That’s definitely something that I offer, and I’ve found that one of the key areas for me is bringing people in, who are on the edges, people who are first-time business owners or stepping into a new situation. Maybe they’re an immigrant and they’re starting a business in a new country. Somehow stepping into a whole new circle is a key thing for me, and also providing that sounding board and the kicking-the-butt when necessary. This has absolutely been a key that I have been giving to people, and that people are finding very helpful. … I know from my experience, as you know from yours, that the isolation can be crushing. You can just go around in your own head, and your really looking for an exit point, but you’re not finding it because you’re so busy spinning.
M: This centrifugal force gets a grip on you and doesn’t let go. So I appreciate your noting that this understanding the core customer is often missing. Yeah, that’s a very interesting point and I appreciate that. …
… We could talk for a long time, but I know your time is pressed.
S: We can talk another time. …
M: Fantastic to reconnect, and we’ll be in touch.
M: And if I can support you in any way, you know where to reach me.
M: Thank you. Best of luck.
S: Thank you. Pleasure talking to you.
 Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited. Harper Collins (1995)
 his team from HomeBase Lounge and that of the restaurant Haus Umgang.
 This is the first of a planned series of interviews with entrepreneurs and small business owners.
 IBB (Investitionsbank Berlin) and EO (the Entrepreneurs Organization) respectively.
 Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited.
 Gerber describes three roles – the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician – which need to be defined and separated if the business is to grow successfully.
 Key Performance Indicators
 Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB, http://www.ibb.de). The program is called BONUS (http://www.coachingbonus.de/).
 Current existence of this company could not be confirmed.
 Michael E. Gerber, The E Myth Revisited. 3rd edition, Harper Collins. (1995)
 Stephan Merath, Der Weg zum erfolgreichen Unternehmer. Gabal Verlag (2008)
 KPI = Key Performance Indicators