Business coaching may sound like a good way to waste your money, but those who have benefited from working with a good coach will tell you it was worth every penny.
Business coaching has become a prodigious industry in recent years, with the value of employing an independent advisor to help you with your business becoming more widely recognized. For the uninitiated, it may sound like a good way to waste your money, but those who have benefited from working with a good coach will tell you it was worth every penny. If you haven’t thought about what a coach could do for you, or feel a little cynical about the idea, it’s worth opening your mind to the possibilities and finding out what they really do.
So what do coaches do?
They are experienced, trained professionals just like accountants or lawyers, but instead of dealing with your books and your legal obligations their area of expertise is you, the business owner. They have skills in subjects such as psychology, motivation and emotional intelligence, which they draw on to take an objective look at your performance and attitudes, and analyze how you can increase your happiness and get the most out of your business. They will discuss things with you at length and go over every aspect of how you and your business are operating to identify where and why certain areas may be underperforming. They may also use expertly crafted analytical tools such as the Judgement Index to dig deeper into how your mind works and your underlying beliefs and perceptions. Once they have gathered all this information, they can then advise you on what to do next and organize an action plan for you to address any issues that are identified.
How do you find one?
Personal recommendation is a great way because you can trust what people you know have to say about services they’ve used and people they’ve consulted. If you don’t know anyone who’s used a coach, then search online to find details of services near you. You could also look farther afield, as many coaches are happy to communicate via Skype for example, with maybe occasional meetings in person. Therefore, you don’t have to be in close proximity to your chosen adviser. When you are checking out the names you’ve found, look carefully at their website, blog and/or professional social media pages so you can get a feel for how they work and whether you are likely to get on well with them. Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients and check out their bona fides – like any service, there are bound to be a few shysters peddling themselves as genuine coaches, so it pays to be confident about who the person is, where they are based and that they run a legitimate business.
Coach or guru: What’s the difference?
A coach is someone with training and expertise in helping you to be your best self and find ways to help you achieve your goals. A guru may talk about many of the same things, but they are talking to large audiences rather than you as an individual. For that reason, their advice has to be generic – one size fits all, and if you follow their advice they promise you will be wildly successful and make tons of cash. That’s not to say that gurus don’t know what they’re talking about. Many of them do have knowledge and can give sound advice, but it’s something of a one-way street; you listen, or read; they talk or write, and everyone gets the same advice. With a coach, you get a personal service, tailored to your specific needs and with your unique personality and situation being the center of the equation.
What can they help with?
There are two areas in which coaches can help you:
- The first is with practical problems. Say you have a new product range, but despite all your efforts and the money spent on marketing, sales are poor; far below what you expected and needed to achieve. A good business coach will be able to suggest why the campaign is failing, whether it’s because the target market hasn’t been correctly identified, the pricing is off, or the packaging isn’t working. Having identified what may be causing the problem, they can then help you come up with solutions. For the examples above, they could help you hone in on exactly the right audience for your products, go through your pricing process to see how you calculated the retail charge and whether it needs revising and direct you to a company like Jansy who can design and produce more suitable packaging for your lines.
- The second is with looking at your influence on the business and how your strengths and weaknesses, or any lack of business knowledge or self-awareness, maybe having a negative effect. They will be able to help you understand what areas you need to work on and why, and how making changes will increase your profits. They can help you if you are struggling with stress, overwhelm, lack of progress, or any of the personal issues that are holding you back from reaching your own and your business’s potential. They can advise you on how to deal with difficult situations, help you see the oak tree among a forest of pines, and guide you towards resources that will help you get the best out of yourself.
What can’t they help with?
They can give you all the advice under the sun, but it’s still up to you whether you take it or not. The decision to follow the advice you are given from any quarter, on any subject, is always yours to accept or reject, so a coach can’t wave a magic wand and fix your business for you. It is still up to you to put in the hard work and wholeheartedly go with the plans and strategies your coach puts in place for you.
A good coach won’t come cheap, and the best are very selective with their clients, only agreeing to work with people who they feel will be prepared to put the effort in. The reason they don’t come cheap is that the results they achieve can be game-changing for you and your business, and if you find the right person to work with you will recoup their fees many times over with the increased profits their advice will generate.