We’ve all met highly successful people who just seem to have it all together. They have a great business, manage to spend time with their families, and even get a vacation (or two) every year. What makes them different from you? Why is their business booming, while yours feels like a struggle? How do they manage to get so much done so efficiently?
The answer, nine times out of ten, is that they have help. I don’t mean they outsource their work (although they may). What I mean is they have help staying focused, on target, and clearly envisioning their goals and the path to achieve them.
In short, they have a coach.
Just like your high-school track team had a coach to help them run better, faster, and more efficiently, a business coach helps entrepreneurs improve their workflow, market more effectively, and build a stronger business.
Why does this method work?
First, we place a much higher value on that which we pay for. If you’re paying a coach, you’ll be more inclined to listen to – and carry out – his or her instructions. Not only that, but because your coach is generally someone you admire, but not necessarily your friend, you’re less likely to want to disappoint her with your lack of action.
Finally, your coach has more knowledge than you do, and is able to see clearly where you need to take action. Left on your own, you might spend months or years with the trial and error method, just to arrive at the same place a well-trained coach can help you achieve in a short time.
Think you’re ready to hire a business coach? Read on and I’ll let you know what you need to do before you even consider it.
Hiring a business coach is often the turning point for entrepreneurs. It’s at this point that many of them finally begin to develop the business they’ve always envisioned, but could never quite reach. Their income goes up, their efficiency improves, and their stress levels decrease.
But if you want to make the most out of your coaching relationship, there are a few things you need to take care of first, because proper planning is the key to your future success.
Choose a coach whose style you like. Just because a particular coach comes highly recommended doesn’t mean he’s a good fit for everyone. If your personalities clash, your relationship will be strained, and you’ll only wind up feeling more stressed and resentful of your time together.
Next, make sure you enter into any coaching relationship with a clear goal. It would be nice to be able to hand a messy box of ideas and half-formed thoughts to your coach and let him sort it out, but that’s not a very good use of his time (or your money).
Better for you to have an end point in sight. You might not know how to get there, but if you can see the goal, your coach will be much better able to help you achieve it.
Working with a business coach may very well be the best thing that ever happened to your business. Just make sure you take the time and lay a good foundation before you move ahead. You’ll be much better prepared if you do.
There are as many styles of coaching as there are coaches, so it’s important to find one that clicks. And as with any service professional, perhaps the best way to do that is to try them out.
Much as you might schedule an initial consolation with a doctor or a lawyer to get a feel for how he or she works, you can do the same with a coach. Most offer free consultations where you can get to know one another, ask a few questions about goals and how the coach helps his clients to achieve them, and maybe what his experience is in your niche.
Take advantage of this time, because it’s the best way to really get to know your coach before spending any money.
Of course, before you can schedule a consultation, you need to put together a list of possibilities. Simply Googling business coach might give you a list of thousands to choose from, but how do you pick the right ones?
One way is to ask your colleagues, much as you’d ask for referrals when looking for a real estate agent or a babysitter for your kids. Be sure to ask entrepreneurs with similar size businesses and in similar markets to get the best response.
Finally, don’t be afraid to admit when someone just isn’t right for you. Not everyone will see your vision, and not all personalities match, so if after your initial consolation you don’t feel comfortable, say so. Simply let him know that while you think he’s probably a great coach, you don’t think he’s right for you.
What to expect from your first session
So far we’ve talked about what business coaches do and how we can help you focus on a goal and achieve greater success in your business, how to find the right coach for you, and how to prepare for your first coaching session.
Now let’s take a look at that very first session from both points of view, so you can go into it knowing exactly what to expect.
While you’d probably like to jump right in and start making lists and bouncing ideas around, your first coaching session will likely be a little more subdued than that.
First, your new coach will need to learn about your business model, who your market is, and how you serve them. He’ll probably want to look at your website, ask you questions about how your business has grown, and where you see it going in the future.
You will have a slightly different agenda. You should be listening carefully to what your coach says so you can get a feel for how knowledgable he is about your business model and target market, what his experience is – both in business and as a coach, and if his ethics and morals are in line with your own.
It simply makes no sense to partner with a coach who advocates a particular system or technique if you find it to be distasteful or it goes against your core beliefs.
Finally, you and your coach should work out a plan for how the coaching will progress. There should be a schedule that works for both of you, and you should be left with an assignment of sorts to complete before you meet again.
The most important aspect of any coaching relationship is the effort you put into it.
So many people make the mistake of thinking that simply hiring a coach will solve all their problems. It’s rather like those people who wish for a magic pill to help them lose weight. As much as we want an easy way out, they just don’t exist. You truly get out of it exactly what you put in.
For example, your coach will likely help you identify areas that need work, or projects you need to tackle to move your business forward.
He might advise you to blog more frequently, modernize your website, or remove an unflattering picture.
It should go without saying that whatever tasks he recommends should become a priority on your to-do list. It makes no sense to pay a coach if you’re not going to follow through, and will only end up frustrating both of you.
Remember, too, that no one – including your coach – is infallible. Do not just follow blindly along with each and every suggestion. If you don’t agree with an idea or a direction he recommends, then you should discuss it. After all, you still know your business and yourself better than anyone, so if you have sound reasons for rejecting a plan, you should listen to your own advice.
Finally, make sure you take notes during your sessions. If possible, consider recording each call so you can refer back to it later or even have it transcribed. You never know when something that was mentioned only in passing will spark an idea worthy of pursuing. Plus, going back to reread your notes or listen to a recording again just before your next meeting will help refresh your memory without wasting time once you’re on the line with your coach.
I hope this has answered some of the questions you might have about hiring a business coach, and helped you start developing a workable plan for your next coaching experience.
Here’s to building a better business!