Darren Shirlaw answers some quick fire questions about business coaching

Who are you?

Darren Shirlaw, founder of Shirlaws.

What do you do?

We’re an international business coaching firm.

What does this mean in practice?

We’re specifically orientated to business coaching and will review your business, helping you design a programme for improvement. We provide services in three different areas: some people call us in because they want more revenue or profit; some because they need more efficiency or productivity in their business; and some have those two areas covered, but need help with strategy planning.

What size company suits you?

The majority of our clients are the classic small or medium-sized enterprise, so around 85% of our clients are businesses with between 20-200 staff. But we also have some much bigger clients and a few smaller ones of less than 20 staff.

Why should I care?

We can help people in three ways. Some people might want more financial benefit from their business or they might be making money but also have to be at work six days a week and are highly stressed about it. Alternatively, they might be making money and not feeling too stressed, but are still finding themselves at work six or seven days a week, so there’s no balance in their lives.

We come in and create an environment where the business owner can get back their life, in effect. We help you get either more money, less stress or a better work/life balance.

What mistakes will you prevent me making?

A lot of the tools we use are planning tools. They pre-determine for people what’s going to happen with their revenue, their productivity or their business over the next two or three years. The predictability of the modelling we use can help people not to make mistakes in those areas.

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How else will you save me money?

The saving of money is in what I call the productivity area. In essence, we break down people’s businesses into three areas: productivity, revenue, and strategy. If you look at the resources that are going into those three areas and how much management time goes into them, the percentage distributed among the areas is usually incorrect.

In 99% of businesses, there’s too much money going into the productivity area and not enough going into the strategy area. So by taking money out of one area you save money, and by putting it in the other, you create growth.

Give me an example of a business you’ve worked with.

Recently, we worked with a law firm with 200 staff and a £15m turnover that had experienced very little growth for five years. After 12 months of our working with them, the business had grown by 20%. We have also worked with a manufacturing company that had a revenue of £2.3m and whose owner had been trapped there for 17 years and wanted to get out. Within six months of working with us, he was out and the revenue was up to £3.4m. Other clients we have include Credit Suisse, O2, Sony and HSBC.

Why should I trust you?

If you’re going to use a business coach, it’s probably best to choose one that’s also growing their own business. We started in 1999 and seven years later we’re in four countries, with a turnover of $10m. Because we’re a fast growing company ourselves, our credibility stands on its own two feet.

What will it cost me?

The cost depends on what the client wants. Most of our clients pay a monthly retainer, which varies depending on the volume of work required. Then there are straight day-rates. The fee for most of our clients falls in the £2-5,000 range, depending on their size. The monthly retainer varies from about £1-20,000 a month, again depending on the size of the business.


Company: Shirlaws

Based: Offices across the UK, head office in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey

Clients: Around 400 worldwide, 120-130 in the UK



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