We all have a choice, go it alone or seek out an experienced guide to help you shortcut our journey.
Running any business is a task full of challenges and frustrations. One day you may be focussed on one area, the next day you are dragged into another area that needs your attention and all of the time you are reacting to challenges as they arise. It is a 24×7 job that probably leaves you with little or no personal or family time.
This is a common situation for business owners and what makes it more challenging is that you are forced to do it on your own. Stress levels rise and your health is at risk and all of the time there is an alternative but because you are at the coalface you cannot stand back and make strategic decisions that could have a dramatic effect on your wellbeing. There is help and support available in the form of a business mentor and all that it takes is for you to do is to change your mindset. Experience tells me that business owners are afraid to ask for help or see it as a cost instead of an investment and so plough on regardless of the pressure they are putting themselves and their loved ones under. So my question to you is – will you take that first step to change the rest of your life or will you carry on regardless?
You can have a business coach come on board as a part time consultant or you can have one full time so you can track your long-term progress. But what is the business coaching process and how does it work? There are several questions regarding this, especially because of the confusing titles and more corporate designations business coaches are given now.
The following is a brief synopsis of what a business coach does and the importance of having an experienced coach. From my experience, I have offered a few insights into the benefits of having a business coach and what may happen if you try to go it alone.
What Is a Business Coach? An Overview
A business coach is, quite simply, a mentor you can rely on to help you make the appropriate business decisions. This is a figure who will be able to guide you while making important and complex business decisions and is someone who offers support and confidence in the daunting world of business. The following are some of the concerns and questions one may have about hiring a business coach.
● Who should use a business coach/mentor?
● The importance of confidentiality?
● The importance of an experienced advisor?
● What to look for when hiring a business coach/mentor?
● Detailed monitoring and evaluation methods
Who Should Use a Business Coach/Mentor?
No rule dictates who should and should not get a business coach. If you are in the cut-throat world of business, it might be helpful to have an experienced coach or mentor to turn to. A coach will be able to provide even the most experienced executive with a different perspective and is a useful sounding board for important decisions.
While organisations are turning to business coaches for specific workshops and sessions, one can also have a business coach come on board on a freelance basis for specific situations and projects.
However, no matter in what situation you hire a business coach, it is important to be open to their guidance.
The Importance of Confidentiality?
The business coaching process also places importance on confidentiality. This probably does not need much explanation, but anybody who has ventured into any kind of business may have understood how competitive it can be. In my experience, confidentiality is the key to building trust.
This is why it is important to have complete faith in the business coach. You need to be confident enough to confide in the coach without fear. You can rely on part time coaches even though they may have multiple engagements with different companies. (1)
The Importance of an Experienced Advisor?
Again, this is something I imagine does not require too much explanation. Why would you want to take advice from somebody who has only academic experience? A survey conducted by Harvard Business Review found that 65% of the coaches who had been interviewed also stressed on the importance of experience in different fields. (2)
What to Look for When Hiring a Business Coach/Mentor?
The first thing is to ensure that whoever is going to be coached should be open to the process and should be comfortable with the coach. If you are picking a coach for another executive, I would suggest letting them choose the coach since they would know what works for them best.
The second thing is that you should assess the competence of the coach by asking them about their methodology. All good business coach have a defined methodology. Coaches may have different approaches, but you need to be clear about what theirs will be so there are no confusions later.
Detailed Monitoring and Evaluation Methods
So far we have spoken about the importance of business coaching, but how does one assess whether the coaching is even effective. This ties in with the point I made earlier about a clear methodology.
A coach needs to have a clear methodology because this means that they will be able to provide you with a detailed plan, no matter how bare the bones of your existing one.
This plan will be based on your needs as well as the approach the business coach will be taking. Taking these factors into consideration, the coach should be able to set achievable goals that you will be able to work towards. This road map will take you to your desired outcome.
Of course, the map will keep changing depending on the immediate needs and the unpredictability of the market. But the basic structure should more or less be maintained.
I would also suggest conducting an evaluation in the middle of your coaching process and compare the current conditions with the conditions before the coaching process began. Similarly, an evaluation at the end of the coaching process will allow you to compare outcomes.
Benefits of a Business Coach
There are spectacular benefits to a good business coach, many of which may have already become clear from the description above. The following are some of the other benefits of a business coach that I would like to present for your benefit. (6)
One of the most significant benefits of a business coach is that you will be introduced to an incredible network. An experienced coach will have built several contacts over the years and your association with the coach will give you access to these individuals.
A large part of running a business is spreading the word and while this may sound easy it can be an incredibly hard job if you do not move in the right circles. A business coach is a good way to overcome this problem.
A business coach may be working with multiple clients at once, and usually, there is access to these in terms of masterminding. It also means that their other clients may prove resourceful.
In some ways, your business coach is your mentor and a headhunter combined because they will introduce you to all kinds of talents in the industry that your organisation can benefit from.
A business coach will also be able to guide you while making strategies for specific projects or for the general direction your organisation should take. A good business coach is a sounding board for these important decisions and their experience will be able to provide you with a new perspective—perhaps an outsider’s perspective so that you can make an informed decision.
At the same time, an experienced coach will also only nudge you in the right direction but will not spoon feed you the solution. The final decision will be yours alone, but you will have the guidance of the coach to fall back on in case you hit a hurdle.
The experience of your coach will also instil you with confidence. When you are leaning on your coach’s guidance and are encouraged by somebody who has experience in the field and has also worked with various organisations, you will automatically begin to have more confidence in your decision making skills.
As I have mentioned above, a mentor will only nudge you in the right direction instead of telling you what to do directly. This also teaches you to trust your own instincts and builds confidence.
An experienced coach also brings with them a proverbial bank full of strategies, approaches and business models. The best way to work with a business coach is to absorb everything that they have to offer.
From a coach, you can learn skills that will help you manage a team better, observe your employees so you can assess their strong areas, interact with clients if you are a service-oriented business and a lot more.
A business coach is like a sports coach. This is a teacher who will mentor you and give you advice that you should value.
An Outlet for Frustrations
I cannot stress on the importance of this point. Running a business is one of the most stressful things. You will need to manage multiple disciplines at once. Even if you have several people to take care of different aspects of your business, the larger share of the worry will invariably fall on your shoulders.
Now, you cannot complain about an office frustration with business partners, nor can you express concerns to an employee without unsettling them. Often, these frustrations need to be left at work so you can have a semblance of work-life balance.
In this awkward and complicated situation, an experienced coach is one of the best outlets for your frustrations. A coach will know exactly what to tell you if you have a specific business concern or will at least be able to provide you perspective based on their own experience.
This is also a person that you can trust with your personal issues.
What a Business Coach Is Not
So far, I have elaborated on what is business coaching and what the benefits of business coaching are. However, there are a few misconceptions about business coaching that I should get out of the way so you do not go in with the wrong expectations. The following are things a business coach is not:
A business coach, while a confidante, is not the same as a therapist. This is strictly a one on one relationship but it is also professional. Of course, a mentor is someone that you trust and sometimes personal obligations may come in the way of business.
A Decision Maker
A business coach is a guide and advisor, but they are not the one to make the decisions for your company. One of the most dangerous things for your business is for you to become overly dependent on your coach.
Your coach should be there to guide you and push you in the right direction, but you should also be able to make independent decisions. In other words, you will grow and be able to make more independent decisions.
A business coach is one of the most integral things for the health of an organisation or even for a team of executives in a larger organisation. An experienced business coach will be able to provide perspective, advice and will also be able to take criticism and feedback when it is needed.
An experienced coach, who knows how the business works and is familiar with strategy, will also be able to draw from their previous observations and experiences, giving you valuable insight.
As I have explained above, a business coach is a sure way to build a larger network and harness valuable contacts. This relationship will build your skills, your business and your confidence.