You think you have a million-dollar idea, but you're not sure you have all the business skills you need to get it off the ground. You've launched your business but are struggling with certain issues that are keeping you from reaching your sales goals. You have an established business but are ready to move to a higher level and see challenges you are not quite sure you are ready to face.
All of these scenarios, and a million more, are legitimate reasons you are looking into hiring a business coach. As you begin to consider the idea, you'll run across a million questions, so let's start with the basics: What is a business coach? And why could you profit from hiring one.
What Is a Business Coach?
A business coach can be many things, depending upon your needs. But generally, a business coach is someone who has extensive experience in business who is willing to share their expertise with you. A business coach is someone who will work one-on-one with you to address how to grow and improve your business. A business coach is not a consultant who will prepare a report that tells you how to run your business. Rather, a business coach will guide you and coach you so you can learn how to run your business better. A business coach will have a relationship that runs from six months to years.
A business coach can help you with the basics: writing a business plan, how to interview and hire staff, how to understand cash flow, etc. Or a business coach can advise how your business can enter the international market. Or a business coach can walk with you as you build and staff a manufacturing plant. Each coaching situation is individuated to fit your unique business, but what remains consistent through the coaching industry is that the coach will not take over and run your business – that's your job – the coach is there to advise you on how to do your job better.
Why You Could Profit from Hiring a Business Coach
Coaching does come with a cost. And on the surface, that might look like too much of a cost, particularly if your business is new, young or struggling. But all of these reasons are exactly why you can benefit from hiring a coach.
Remember, we mentioned a coach is someone who has succeeded in business and is ready to share that expertise. That means the coach can save you from making the same costly mistakes they likely made when starting out in business. These costly mistakes are what lead to the high rate of small business failure, so the ability to avoid these mistakes in the early stages means your business is more likely to succeed. A January 2016 article in Entrepreneur notes that failure rates in small business are declining. Scott Shane, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, notes among other reasons for this improvement is that new owners are better educated. He could also have noted that more small business owners are hiring a business coach to improve their business education.
A business coach also brings a more objective view to your business. The coach can see your strengths and your weaknesses and can advise and support you as you move to capitalize on strengths and overcome or work around weaknesses. Maybe you're great at creating widgets but terrible at keeping track of your finances. A coach can help you determine if the better approach is for you to learn to handle finances or if it's more economically smart to hire or contract with someone to handle finances.
That brings up another resource a coach can bring to your business – a network of professionals developed through a lifetime in business. A coach can help you turn to the right resources for your business and away from situations that could be detrimental. Maybe you have a cousin who has offered to do your bookkeeping but your coach can recognize the cousin, while a good person, lacks the skills in the kind of financial organization that your business needs, plus gives you good excuse to address your cousin ("My coach suggested another hire.").
How Do I Find the Right Coach?
The industry of business coaching has exploded over the past two decades, which is both good and bad. Good because it gives you a vast field to choose from, where you can find a business coach who matches your experience and your expectations. Bad in that is makes that search more time-consuming and introduces a good number of coaches who are not qualified for what you need.
This is why you already are on the right track to hiring a business coach. You are doing your research. You are looking for answers to your many questions and getting a better grasp on why you need a coach, what kind of coach you need and what benefits you expect from a coach. Just as working with a business coach takes time, so does finding the right coach.
You will need to consider several coaches. You will want to check their credentials, talk with others they have coached, conduct a thorough interview to ensure your personalities will match. This process also will be enlightening to you as you are more likely to think about your business, about yourself, about your staff as you are going through these interviews.
Just from the process, you will develop a better idea of what areas will benefit you in hiring a coach, so it's important to pay attention all through the process. Make notes after each interview. Continue to do your homework. Then when you do hire a business coach, you will be ready to hit the ground running, move more quickly to a return on your investment and see the potential you always envisioned becoming a reality for your business.
Hiring the right business coach is going to pay dividends in a short time. You will lean on their experience to gain skills to overcome whatever challenges your business faces now and be better prepared to face future challenges. Along with those skills, you will gain the confidence to take control of your operation and move it into a more profitable position.