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Book Summary – The Business Coach: A Parable of Small Business Breakthrough

The Business Coach - Book summary

Most entrepreneurs start a business for freedom, financial rewards and/or to pursue their passion, but find themselves struggling with profits and/or trapped in their business. A successful business must be profitable and work without you – only then will you have the choice to sell the business, or keep it without being trapped in it. Otherwise, your business is no more than a job, and likely an underpaid one. In this book, the founder of ActionCOACH Bradley Sugars shows how you can use a proven process to grow a successful business that runs itself. In this free version of The Business Coach summary, we’ll give an overview of the 6 steps of the business Success Ladder.

Through a fable about Joe and Nellie – a couple feeling burnt out after 20 years in their bakery business – Sugars shows how you can transform your business with a business coach, using a success framework that has been proven to work in any business or industry across more than 50 countries. The idea is to align your business and life goals, master key aspects of your business, and develop systems to automate your operations and profits.

The Business Coach: 6-Step Success Ladder

Here’s an overview of the 6-Step Success Ladder. For more details, do refer to our full 12-page summary. Or, get a free business consultation using the concepts here.


The first step is to master the fundamentals of your business, so you are consistently profitable, productive, and have the right information for decision-making.

There are 3 key aspects to master: Money, Time and Delivery. Here’s a quick overview. Get more details from or our full book summary.

The Business Coach summary - Mastery

Money Mastery: Profits are crucial in business – without profits, you cannot sustain your business, much less grow it. Money mastery is about knowing your historic numbers and those that shape your future. In the book, Sugars touches on several related mastery including: Break-even mastery, profit margin mastery, reporting mastery, test & measure mastery. The main idea is to know exactly where you stand, and progressively test up to 5 growth strategies each time. There are only 5 main ways to grow profit, and this is addressed in Part 2.
Delivery Mastery: This is about delivering your products/ services consistently, with the right quality, quantity, time and margin, each and every time.
Time Mastery: Time mastery is about knowing your time-usage, and making the most effective use of your time (and that of your team). In the book / full summary, we touch on how to get started. Mastering your time also requires that you do the right things, which in turn requires Goal-Mastery (to get clear about where you want to go in life and business, so you can actually get there), and Self-Mastery (discipline to stay focused).


A niche is the ideal position to be filled by a person or business. When you control a market niche, people accept you for your position. Once you’ve identified your uniqueness, and built your sales and marketing engines around it, you no longer need to compete on price.

One of the most powerful frameworks/ concepts in the book is the Business Chassis. Every business owner wants more customers, revenues and profits. However, you can only improve these via 5 key ways to grow your business and multiply your profits: Lead, Conversion Rate, # Transactions, Average Dollar Sale Price, and Profit Margin.

The Business Coach Summary - Business Chassis

Sugars points out one important distinction – it costs more to acquire new customers, than it does to sell to existing ones. Thus, he recommends that you build your profit machine in the sequence indicated above. Get more details on these 5 key components from our full version of The Business Coach summary in text, infographic and audio formats (click here for complete summary).

As you refine your chassis to increase profits, you’ll be developing your niche, including your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and your guarantee strategies. Remember that marketing is an investment (not an expense), and your acquisition costs (how much you pay to get a new customer) must always be lower than your customer lifetime value (the amount each customer spends with you over time).


Once you have a profitable business and know the required components, you can use systems to make your machine more efficient. Remember that your goal is to “finish” building the business so that it can run profitably without you. Here’s a quick overview of the 4 types of leverages. The Business Coach Summary - LeverageStructure Leverage: This is about putting the right people in the right positions, and equipping them with the right plan, so they can function effectively and predictably. The key is to make your business systems-dependent rather than people-dependent. To achieve that, you’ll need your org-chart (including the multiple roles you are personally filling if you’re a startup), position contracts (including what’s “good” vs “satisfactory” performance), and key performance indicators (KPIs).
How-to Leverage: All employees, including the good ones, will leave someday. To minimize the impact of staff turnover, you need to create a manual for each position, documenting how the work should be done. The book breaks down some of the components needed in your documentation, and tips for getting started.
Management Leverage: Once you have the systems to get work done, you’ll need to manage these systems (including your resources and people).
Technology Leverage: Use technology to enhance your systems, making them more effective, faster and more economical.


The next step in the success ladder is to build a great team, i.e. a group of people with common goals, work together in a coordinated way, feel cohesive, and accomplish more as a group. To achieve this, you must address this question: “why should the best people join you?”

The book outlines the relationship between the various business stakeholders (the “Cycle of Business“), details a suggested approach for team recruitment and induction (using a deselection process, rather than a selection process), and provides 6 keys to a winning team. [You can also get an overview via our full 9-page summary].


Synergy means that the outcome is far greater than the sum of the inputs, i.e. 1+1=3 or more. Now that you’ve put in place the key components of your business, you must lead and grow it from the outside, orchestrating how the parts work together synergistically to create the desired outcome.


If you have completed the 5 preceding steps, you have “finished” your business-building process and can enjoy the fruits of your labour. You can now choose to sell your business, or continually refine it using the Business Chassis.


In our full 9-page The Business Coach summary, we also highlight the coaching process illustrated in the fable. The coaching process typically starts with an Alignment Consultation where, together with your coach, you evaluate your business and personal goals, assess your strategies and results todate, and identify untapped potential in your business, so you can develop a plan for your business and coaching.

Besides introducing Joe and Nellie to the 6 steps above, their coach worked closely with them to transform their business.

Some benefits of coaching are:
• Your coaching sessions (meetings, structured conversations) are dedicated pockets of time set aside to focus on business growth.
• By listening, asking good questions, brainstorming, or encouraging you to think out loud, the Coach can help to you to find answers quickly, and learn to think for yourself.
• A coach helps you to identify blind-spots, simplify complex ideas and cut through clutter and confusion to define clear action steps after each session.
• Knowing what to do isn’t enough – being accountable to a Coach spurs you to overcome procrastination and take the necessary action to generate results.
• The results and profits that you gain should more than cover your coaching investment.

However, for the coaching process to work, you must fulfill a few prerequisites: You must be committed to your success, be willing to accept new ideas and venture out of your comfort zone, and be prepared to work hard and to do what it takes to implement the ideas and solutions identified with your coach.

Do get our complete book summary bundle in text, graphic and audio formats for more details on the 6 steps of the business Success Ladder to grow a successful business that runs itself.The Business Coach summary - book summary bundle

Other Details in “The Business Coach”

This easy-to-read parable is designed to provide an overview of the 6-step success ladder and the coaching process. Sugars has a series of different books focusing on each of the 6 steps, as well as the 5 variables in the business chassis (e.g. leads, team, systems). The book ends with a review of key terms, a short action guide, recommended reading and FAQs.
For more details, go to, get a copy of the book or The Business Coach book summary bundle.

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