Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Westfall, Founder of Westfall and Associates LLC., located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Corporations are looking for greater adaptability - navigating the economic uncertainty in a way that makes things easier. For companies and company leaders, my coaching and keynotes provide access to new insights - and new results. A key emphasis for me is helping organizations create coaching cultures - where old "command and control" systems are being replaced with a new and inclusive leadership strategy. That leadership is based on listening and coaching, so that employee engagement, retention, and performance are elevated.
Tell us about yourself
Most people don't know that I was once a professional stuntman. From trading fake punches to helping my clients to face off with the Sharks on Shark Tank, I've always been conscious of managing risks! As a contributor to Forbes, and the publisher of seven books, I believe that everyone has a story to tell. And, of course, I still do all my own stunts. Adapting to the unexpected has been a hallmark of my career - and now, I'm helping others to do the same.
I grew up in the midwest and went to high school in Chicago, where I studied at the High School for Performing Arts. The performer's mindset has always been an important part of my life, even now as I work as a keynote speaker, trainer, and coach. My dad was a field-goal kicker and backup quarterback for a Big10 college. He instilled in me a work ethic that I would describe as "Stand and deliver." For example, when it's time to kick the field goal, it's time to stand and deliver. Same when it's time to stand up in front of 500 people and deliver a keynote: I've got to stand and deliver.
It's a philosophy and approach to facing the high-stakes situation - something he did on a regular basis, and so do I. My dad would remind me of the most important thing to think about when you're about to kick a field goal. And it wasn't the score, the crowd, or how you performed in practice last Thursday. No. When it's time to stand and deliver, the number one thing to have on your mind is always: nothing. Nothing at all; keep your eye on the ball. Do what needs to be done - and take action.
When I was recognized as the US National Elevator Pitch champion, it helped launch my career onto a new stage - a new level of visibility. Since that recognition, I've worked with thousands of company executives, entrepreneurs, inventors, media personalities, political figures, and engineers - helping them to "stand and deliver" when the stakes are high.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This past year, I had the opportunity to present to the investment community in London. During this short presentation, my words helped to impact the stock price of an FTSE 100 company. While every client and every presentation is important, the ability to create an impact like this makes this recent accomplishment something to remember. When my clients tell me that they've moved into a C-Suite role, launched their own business, or secured millions of dollars in Series A funding, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment - and pride. My greatest accomplishment, really, is in helping my clients to accomplish great things.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There's a giant lie inside of owning your own business. And that lie is: if it's got to be, it's up to me. Feeling as though you have to "go it alone" is something that all business owners experience, myself included. But the fact of the matter is that nothing of any value happens without the help of other people. Learning to let go is the hardest thing that comes with being a business owner. Because when you let go of responsibility, you hold on to trust. You find people you trust and ways to get things done so that you aren't always at the center of every task.
"But," the business owner mindset says, "if it's going to be good - really, really good - I have to touch it and put my hands on it!" Maybe. But how you touch the tasks and how you turn to trust can turn one of the hardest things into an expansive possibility. As a business owner, I've come to realize that how I show up is what's creating the world around me. If I show up with mistrust and an over-inflated sense of self-importance, life looks pretty difficult. And I know I'm holding myself back from possibilities. Those possibilities make things easier.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Stop stopping. When I wanted to start my speaking career, I hired a coach. My coach was an internationally-recognized speaker, with several books to his credit. "What can I do," I asked him, "If I want to speak more?" He said very simply: "Speak." At first, I didn't understand. "Speak at any opportunity," he told me. "Any audience, any fee, speak." Wondering what to do next was keeping me from seeing the action I needed to take. When I stopped stopping, I started speaking! Now I am fortunate to be more selective around the opportunities I choose to pursue, but when you're starting, stop stopping!
- See service. Whatever it is that you offer as a business leader or entrepreneur, consider how service is at the core of what you are building. Look at your business as a service, even if you are manufacturing products. "What do we live for," says the quote from George Eliot, "if not to make life less difficult for one another." When you see service, you see how you can make things easier for others. From this service comes your profitability, your growth, and your value.
- Bring your future goals into the present moment. If you have a five-year plan or even a 90-day forecast, consider what needs to be done right now to get you closer to what you want. Don't spend too much time forecasting - analysis paralysis is the first result you'll discover. If you know what you're on about, take action. Take massive action. And take it often. Planning is useful, but once you have a plan: get going. A goal brought into the present moment is called a value. Ask yourself how you are living your values right now, today, in the present moment. Are your values aligned with your goals? That answer will guide you toward the action you need to take!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The stories you tell will teach people how to treat you, how to pay you, how to invest in your ideas, and more. Great ideas deserve great stories. Stories that are clear and easy to share. In a complex world, the ability to simplify things is a superpower, and so is knowing what to ignore. If it looks like you have to go it all alone, look again. That's a thought you can ignore. For high-performers who want to access peak performance, find the help and guidance you need. Find the service inside yourself and inside of others so that you can create what's missing. That's the true power inside of the coaching conversation when two people look intently in the direction of singular success.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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