Business Coaches: Think Outside-the-Box, Be More Strategic

“Who needs a Business Coach?” The simple answer to the seemingly complex question is… everyone responsible for operating a business. That’s right. The Fortune 50 CEO to the sole proprietor show needs an Advisor or Coach.

The CEO of a public company has Advisors as well as a Board of Directors to turn to. They often don’t have a choice of who their Advisors are, but small business owners do. Unfortunately, with this choice of Advisors (or Coaches) comes another choice that is often made… and that choice is to not get any help at all.

This is very often the cause of the business failure statistics we hear so much about. The Small Business Owner will often claim that they don’t have the time or money for a Coach.

Think about that comment. How can you not have the money to get help from someone that can potentially save or make you more money? You invested in your business, having a Coach is like having insurance to protect your investment.

Or how about the lack of time? If an owner sat down for an hour with a Coach, they would be able to see why they don’t have time and do something about it with the help of someone who has already been in those shoes.

A Coach gives to Small Business Owners something most of them don’t have – a sounding board and a board of directors to turn to for advice. These are two great resources to use when trying to avoid “trial and error” decisions and processes.

I’m not knocking trial and error as the way to learn things. I’ve personally used that method, faired well and learned a lot. But that this method is also very costly and time consuming. Why not work with someone who has already faced those problems?

What many business owners don’t realize is that their trials and tribulations are not unique problems that someone else has never dealt with. Not to mention that about 70-75% of their business is the same as every other business including HR, finances, sales, marketing and funding. The other 25-30% is industry-specific.

Small to mid-sized Business Owners take away much more from a Coach than big businesses. This, if for no other reason, is the case because the smaller companies have owners that wear a lot of hats. Many of those hats take time away from the things the owner actually needs to make a priority to see their company succeed. Things they should be doing that they don’t have time to get to or things they are taking care of that they have no experience in doing. These situations take away from them doing what they do best. That’s a problem.

The question now is how to find a Coach. There are many types of business coaches out there. Some are purely “coaches” and others are true developers and implementers that will roll up their sleeves with you when asked. It’s up to you to pick the type of person you want or need.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do they click with your personality? There are many good Coaches out there but if they don’t click with you as a “business friend”, you may want to keep looking until you find the right personality fit.
  • Have they owned a small business before? Gray hair does not equal business ownership knowledge. I promise you that the ex-CEO or Senior manager from a huge company knows very little about successfully operating a small business. These are two significantly different worlds.
  • Don’t worry if a potential Coach doesn’t know your specific industry. Remember that a lot of your troubles have nothing to do with your industry. It would help though if the Coach had contacts/resources for you in your industry for when specific problems are addressed.
  • Look for flexibility. A potential Coach that pushes for more than 20 hours a month of your time from day one is probably out for money. Until they start working with you, there is no way of knowing that they need that much time per month to meet your goals and timelines. A good Coach will understand that you have made a commitment to get back on track just by the fact that you are talking to them. They shouldn’t need to try and get a ridiculous time and money commitment from you if they want to help.

Once you made the very intelligent decision of getting help in making your business a success, keep a few things in mind. You should really commit to working with your Coach for a good 6 months. Nothing gets started or fixed overnight. Also, since you are paying for it, please do yourself a favor and be open to suggestions, bring important things to your Coach for help in making a decision and make the use of your time with the Coach a priority. Don’t forget that a coach should never make a decision for you. It’s your company, they are there to make suggestions and guide you.

Working with your Coach can be a very enlightening experience. You will start to see the forest from the trees and not feel like you are the only person on the planet going through tough times as a Business Owner.

All Business Owners eventually need help. The successful ones put aside their pride and desire to be at the center of all aspects of the company and get the help. Do yourself and your company a favor and be one of the truly successful Business Owners. Get a Coach and get all you can out of them. If your Coach loves what he/she does for a living as much as you love what you do, you can’t go wrong.

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