I’m the first to admit that business coaching has a pretty bad name. You don’t have to look too far to find somebody within your network that’s been burnt by a coach.
Small business owners enter into a coaching agreement with the best of intentions and it starts out well. But somewhere along the journey it turns sour and it’s almost always the small business owner who loses out.
This is because, for the most part, business coaching is an unregulated industry and doesn’t really require a formal degree or education (mind you quality coaching will be backed by both “on the job” experience and formal qualifications.
Because it’s a growth industry, there’s no shortage of questionable people who want to be involved in the action. That’s why you see 17 year olds on Facebook offering their business coaching ‘services’ or others who clearly want the fame and fortune of business coaching, not your success. You see it in posts like, “My online course has helped 1000s of small businesses scale to 7 figures in 30 days”.
While our industry does need to restore public trust, I can assure you that the majority of business coaches I’ve come across are intelligent, well-meaning and committed people.
If you’re considering working with a business coach, here’s what a good coach will do for you.
Small business owners often start their journey from a place of wanting to do things within an industry they understand better than the current standard. While this motivation needs to be encouraged (and has proven successful before), the missing piece is what small business owners actually want to achieve in going out on their own.
There’s a big difference between simply ‘doing it better’ and a real sense of purpose and vision for your small business. While doing it better is easier to articulate and do, it’s not really a long term mission statement.
In this sense, a good business coach can offer small business owners a new perspective on what they want to achieve and a build an Ultimate Objective framework on how they can get there.
Creating a framework for what you want to achieve in business is not a document littered with buzzwords and untangleable ideals. A good business coach will help you clarify your vision, gather and analyse your marketplace and competition, formulate a winning strategy, work with you to implement your strategy and evaluate and control your destiny.
In short, a good business coach is a key figure in helping you set goals, track your progress towards them and smash through what your thought was impossible.
A good business coach will keep you accountable but they won’t hold your hand. This is your journey and you need to learn, experience and fail on your own terms.
In weekly (or monthly) coaching sessions, a good business coach will take notes of the things you say and the actions you want to take and will follow up and check in on your progress. In order to keep you accountable, they will ask pointed questions like:
These questions turn lofty-ambition into something that can be measured. Once a small business owner realises their business coach will keep them accountable, they suddenly find extra incentive to deliver on what they say.
A good business coach also understands that accountability can’t be an ad-hoc thing. It requires consistency in approach. You can’t hold somebody to account after they’ve been allowed to get away with it five times before.
Small business owners can so often feel alone. As much as family and friends try their best to support you, it’s difficult for them to understand what you’re going through unless they’ve been where you are.
Therefore, a huge element of a business coaching agreement is based on the encouragement and support a business coach can provide.
Think back several years when football coaches were grumpy, angry men who never encouraged their players when they did well.
A player dominates a game and in the change rooms the coach tells them not to be selfish. A team wins by 60 points and a coach yells that it should have been 80. Never a smile, never a friendly word. This atmosphere doesn’t breed success.
Fortunately, these days have made way for a more supportive environment. When a player stars, they get a pat on the back. When a team wins well, there’s a group hug. This is best displayed in the coaching styles of the two most recent long-term successful AFL coaches, Alastair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick.
Sport and business are different, but both require encouragement and support.
A good business coach knows when encouragement and support is needed and is happy to do so. Evolve to Grow has a ‘celebrate the little wins’ mantra, meaning even when the big achievements can’t be found, little wins can and celebrating them goes a long way towards greater success.
There’s no rule that stipulates a business coach must have firsthand experience building a business from the ground up, but it helps.
If a business coach has, they can provide an authoritative voice in which to guide small business owners. If they haven’t, it’s difficult for a small business owner to fully trust untried advice.
The greatest asset I can provide my clients is the fact I’ve previously been on the small business journey they’re currently undertaking. I can tell you for a fact, that at every turn a small business owner will be challenged and have to make the best decision possible with limited evidence in which to make it - this is where a good business coach is truly advantageous.
It’s often said that there’s no new ideas and it's the same when it comes to problems a small business owner faces. While it’s new to them and concerning, for others who have gone through similar before, like a coach who’s built a business, it’s just another hurdle they created a solution for a long time ago.
A good business coach can provide guidance around key areas of your small business:
As a small business owner, having a trusted coach who can provide guidance backed up by real-world experience is a God-send.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding a business coach. If you don’t believe me type ‘business coaches’ into Google and count the results. It really is a hotly contested market, but securing the services of a trustworthy and solid business coach is a much more difficult task.
If you’re looking to grow your small business and are seeking help from a business coach, the requirements listed above are non-negotiable. Make sure they prove their worth to you first, before your part with your hard earned cash.
There needs to be a vetting process before engaging any business coach to ensure they’re capable of helping you achieve your goals, will keep you accountable, can encourage and support you and provide guidance where needed.
Ultimately, a good business coach will become a valued member of your team and is invested in your journey.
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