Thursday, March 3, 2016

What Is A Business Coach and Why Do I Need One?

Photo by Chris Hunkeler/Creative Commons
Ten or 20 years ago, you wouldn't have heard of a business coach.  You may have known about business consultants and those who would come into a business to help executives or managers, but a "business coach" was probably not a word used to describe someone who comes into a business - regardless the size - and helps the owner and/or employees.

So what is a business coach?  According to Wikipedia, a business coach supports a company "in achieving a specific personal or professional goal.  Coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development."

Business coaches come in all shapes and sizes, specializing in different things.  There are coaches who focus on dealing with personal stumbling blocks you might be dealing with that stop you from moving forward in your career or business.  Others are process-improvement specialists.  Still others are great at brainstorming issues you're facing and then outlining steps to resolving those issues.  Still others are most knowledgeable in human resources, while others help you put together a business plan and figure out your accounting.

The benefits of having a coach for your business, no matter the size, are many, but I'm just going to list my favorite five:

  • Focus.  A business coach will help you focus on the things you don't see but you know are there in the background.  They'll help you look at your business from the outside and see it as others see it.  Sometimes, we're so wrapped up in getting the day-to-day work done, we miss the overall picture.
  • Honesty.  Most people you deal with in your business life, especially if they're employees, won't tell you what you don't want to hear.  A business coach will give you an honest assessment of what you're doing, depending on the issue they're dealing with.  They want you to succeed, but they also want you to listen, so be prepared for honesty along with solutions.
  • Confidence.  Confidence can be used two different ways to describe the benefits of hiring a coach.  First, you'll find you can confide in your business coach; because they want you to succeed, they're not going to steal your ideas and go to a competitor.  Second, you can have confidence your coach can really help you, that he or she will bring new ideas and new ways of approaching a situation you may have been dealing with for a long time. 
  • Accountability.  Sometimes, when you're a business owner (and yes, freelancers are business owners), you don't have anyone but yourself to be accountable to.  A business coach will step into that role by holding you responsible for actually taking steps to improve your business.  Getting stuck in a rut of things that don't work will not move your business forward.  Being held accountable to change is the only way ahead.
  • Self-confidence.  Look at a high school football team.  When the coach tells them they can go out and beat the opposing team, they're pumped up with self-confidence, ready to tackle anyone who gets in their way.  The same is true with a business coach.  They are your cheerleader, your, well, coach and they want you to succeed more than anything.
Business coaches go into the business because they've been where you are.  They've owned businesses and/or have worked in responsible positions at businesses.  I've owned three companies over the years and have been a senior manager at more companies than I can count.  I love going into a meeting with an open mind, ready to look at what is, envisioning what can be and then working up a plan to help you get there.

Having a business coach doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out thing.  Some business owners just need someone to bounce ideas off of; in that case, a monthly number of hours can be booked, letting you call your coach any time until your hours are used.  You might have one specific issue you need help with; maybe you haven't set up business processes yet or the ones you have aren't working well enough for where your business is right now.  A business coach can come in and look at what you have now and either show you how to improve those processes or replace them with something more efficient.  Other coaches will meet with clients once a week for just a few weeks until stumbling blocks are dealt with and you're ready to make your business soar.

Interested in knowing more about how a business coach can help?  Check me out on Yelp! (link is on the right side) or send me an email at smallbizcoachtx@gmail.com ... you don't have to be in Austin for me to work with you.