Kurk Lalemand is no stranger to business. 

He’s owned four of them. 

The White Crane School of Karate came first, then two consulting companies. Now he runs NEXT Level Business Coaching, where he helps other business owners figure out what they’re doing wrong. And doing right.

He’s coached just over 200 business owners directly and touched another 600 as a seminar leader and sales trainer. Some clients work with him for three months, some for more than five years.

It’s where his passion lies.

Name: Kurk Lalemand

Age: 65

Town: Lewiston

Married/single/relationship: Committed

Business coaching sounds a lot like you stand beside a store with a whistle and a clipboard shouting “Sell more there! Right there! Go, go, go!” Is that pretty accurate? Not quite. I guess you might say I am a combination of firefighter, therapist and ogre.

Businesses in transition are often being led by an owner who is so busy they are running around with their hair on fire! They are working 50, 60 hours per week — just as hard as they can, but making little headway. I come in and help them put out the fires, get clarity and get refocused on the right priorities.

Family businesses often need a therapist as well as a business coach. Some older-generation owners have the “sticky baton syndrome” where they give some responsibility and authority to the next generation, but can’t quite let go of the power. We help the generations communicate clearly and get things moving.

Businesses owned by “technicians,” such as carpenters, systems analysts, dentists, plumbers, lawyers and other talented people who are skilled at doing the work, often need an ogre — task master. I often have to help owners to stop working IN the business and start working ON the business.

When you were 6, did you dream of becoming a business coach? When I was 6 I dreamed of having another puppy. King was a good old dog — he needed a bro.

How did you get into business coaching? After selling my consulting firm, NAPPI Inc., that I ran for 26 years, I was looking to start a firm helping young people start businesses, but couldn’t figure a way to do that and make a good living. That research led me to discover this industry. I wanted a business where my gray hair, and my bumps and bruises, triumphs and failures, would be an advantage.

What’s something a lot of businesses get wrong? Briefly, their mistake is they work IN the business too much and ON the business too little. Many owners work inside their companies doing the mechanics of the business far too many hours each week. A successful owner will go through phases. As the business grows it is too easy to continue to do things “because no one can do it as well as I can” or “I can do it faster myself.” Continuing to do this is a recipe for disaster. A business owner has to learn how to create systems that drive business success.

What’s the one thing a business should do right? Have the right people, in the right positions, doing the right things! People are the most important thing inside the business.

How has technology changed business? In too many ways to count, but one obvious way that affects every business owner is that because of the internet, every customer knows much more about your product and your competitors than ever. We all must be better at our business than ever before. Today, being very good at what you do is the basic level. Now we all have to try to stand out. Being remarkable is today’s target!

When it comes to your own company, have you ever made the mistake of not following the advice you give others? Yes. More often than I’d like to admit.

Fill in the simile: A great business is like . . . : A great business is like a vacation. You look forward to getting up in the morning and seeing what kind of trouble you can get into today. Only foolin’. You do look forward to getting up every day to see what kind of challenge you will have the opportunity to overcome and which people will surprise you with their skill, their creativity and their humanity. A good business leads to abundance (in every sense of the term). Owning a business is a great way of life — but perhaps not for the faint of heart.

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