A Sounding Board

Many business owners have a skill that they transform into a successful business; without a business degree or formal training. It’s not surprising that owning an independent business can be lonely and challenging.

This business owner turned to The Business Therapist® for guidance and a change in perspective.


This business owner spent a lot of time “turning a wrench,” literally, as a truck mechanic. Now that he owns his own business, it was frustrating to find and keep good mechanics.

While a family can be supportive, they often don’t have the insight and may tire of hearing about business struggles outside of working hours.


The business owner needed a confidant to ask quality, leading questions so the business owner could find the answers for himself.

Here are two memorable conversations and how they evolved:

Conversation 1 – Business owner: “I can’t find good mechanics.”

After analyzing the situation and asking a series of questions, the following realizations emerged:

The owner’s belief was based on the experience of hiring two talented mechanics who previously worked in a unionized shop. They didn’t fit the culture of this particular workplace and quit.

When asked how many quality mechanics were available for hire, he admitted that there were hundreds more. He agreed that he might be making assumptions based on his two previous experiences.

We asked about the idea of assessing for cultural fit upfront; before hiring. The business owner agreed that this would be a smart approach.

We asked about involving the current mechanics in the hiring process to get their buy-in and support of the new hires. That also sounded good.

We asked how he hired the great mechanic currently on the team and learned it was through personal contact. We asked if he used his personal contacts for new mechanics – the answer was no, but that sounded like a good idea.

Just by asking some good questions, the possibility of finding good mechanics suddenly became much more probable!

Conversation 2 – Business owner: “I am worried my good mechanic will quit and start his own shop.”

This is a legitimate concern. As we began asking leading questions, we discovered the fear of losing this talented individual translated into the business owner restricting the mechanic’s interactions with his good customers.

He was afraid that if he let this employee be responsible for the quality customers, the mechanic would then have the relationship necessary to take the customer with him when he opened his own shop!

The owner realized that this mentality resulted in extra effort on his part (ie, longer hours) and kept the employee from developing a rewarding career at his shop.

The owner realized this behavior might actually cause his employee to leave!


Because the business owner was able to open up and discuss these important issues in a respectful and trusted business environment, he learned more about himself and made better decisions. We didn’t give him the answers; we facilitated the discussion and the owner received clarity on his own.


You don’t have to go it alone. Vulnerability is a strength. Having a space to respectfully challenge your assumptions and think through your decisions out loud is valuable. Freeing up the dinner table discussions for personal matters is also valuable.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

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