Before you hire a business coach, know that there are only two things they’re good for. Business coaches are great for motivating people to get on and work hard at their businesses. A business coach can be hugely encouraging, energising you to power through a to-do list longer than Ulysses.
Business coaches can be great to keep you on track and focused, avoiding the distractions and rabbit warrens that the online world is full of. Business coaches can validate your ideas and give advice on which ones are likely to be winners and which can be postponed.
But this isn’t what business coaches are especially good for. A great friend or smart colleague can do these things as well. So what, exactly, are business coaches particularly useful for?
A business coach sees what you can’t see
In business, we are our biggest asset as well as our largest liability. We don’t know what we don’t know and this can often be our downfall. Blind spots can be very expensive.
Time and again, others are far better at seeing our strengths and weaknesses than we are.
A good business coach doesn’t try to get you to think, believe or act in a way that isn’t aligned with your goals or your personal predilections. But a great business coach is fantastic for showing your blind spots. They can help you capitalise on your strengths and negotiate for your weaknesses by shining a spotlight on areas you’re overlooking. You might be overlooking something because you’ve had bad experiences in the past which are colouring your objectivity, or you may miss opportunities trotting past right under your nose.
A good business coach will support you to push yourself towards what you want without haranguing, belittling or undermining you. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, stories still circulate of business coaches who criticise their clients to conform.
When you’re better able to understand what you’re not seeing, you make smarter decisions and better manage your resources for far better outcomes.
The number one asset that we can’t get more of
The primary asset that we can’t get more of is time. Have you ever played a game of ‘Choose your own adventure?’ where you go back in time and make a different choice? If you’d made a different choice two years ago and taken a different path with your business, where would you be today?
I’m not advocating that we dwell on what’s done or ruminate in regrets. We can only live in the present and plan for the future. However, our choices in business do have consequences on our profits, our sustainability and our satisfaction. A good business coach will save you time because they know the short-cuts. These short-cuts will save you time, money and effort. And time is one asset we can’t get more of.
You’ll still have to work hard over time, while expecting the speed-bumps, slow downs and countless tiny failures that are the consequence of action.
But rather than faff about trying to figure out what you should be doing and in what order, a good business coach helps you cut straight to the most important things that you need to prioritise to get what you want. Short-cuts can involve recommendations for software and other tools, tweaks on your copy or branding that can make a big impact, or changes to your processes and procedures.
Shortcuts often involve introductions to people who can help you. Between you and everything you want in business stands numerous people – decision makers, stakeholders and potential supporters who can get you to where you want to be. People power business. Getting to know the people who can help you is invaluable to your business’s progression.
A good business coach should be well connected because they’re several steps ahead of you and have been working hard to build their own network of trusted confidantes and valued people. They can introduce you to other helpful people to help you grow your own network of supporters.
You cannot operate in a vacuum. Regardless of the nature of your work, people are pivotal to your success and that goes beyond your customer base.
Warning flags for business coaches
Warning flags for business coaches is when they’ve only ever worked as a coach. Your business coach should, ideally, have plenty of diverse experience at the coalface of business. Particularly useful is a background in marketing, PR or sales. Ideally, they should have been self-employed doing something other than business coaching if they’re to understand the daily realities of self-employment.
Your business coach should be earning good money. They don’t need to earn more than you but they shouldn’t be struggling. (Again, this kind of beggars belief but happens more frequently than it should!)
Your business coach should be motivating and uplifting. This is different from being agreeable. You don’t want a coach that agrees with your every word. You need a business coach that challenges you, points out downfalls, risks and weaknesses in ideas, and asks smart questions that you haven’t considered.
Your business coach should be different from you.
Friends, family and therapists are good for that. In business, a different perspective is invaluable. Your ideas and creations become stronger with a different voice and opinion to develop them beyond what you’re capable of.
If you want your business to be remarkable, memorable and impactful, you need a business who is sufficiently different from you, while working to support your goals, understand your personal predilections, and helping you go from strength to strength.
Is it time for you to invest in a business coach to help with blind spots and short cuts?