Congratulations! You have taken the first big step to becoming your own boss and going out on your own.
You know your industry, how to build a brand and are very creative about the details of certain business affairs.
However, many first time small business owner’s fall short of putting systems into place to get the business moving in the right direction from the gate.
This is where the smart business owner will save time, money and avoid inevitable pitfalls that plague many entrepreneurs the first time out by hiring a business coach.
What is a business coach?
A business coach is a lot like a personal trainer at the gym: A good trainer will begin by learning your goals, strengths and weakness in what you can do well and where you need assistance. A good coach is skilled in recognizing your skills and also your fears and areas where you need to build strength.
It is important to know that there is no certification required to become a business coach, therefore you want to be sure you connect with someone who knows how to work with your business and that you communicate well. A good business coach should be eager to see you succeed and be on board with your goals.
Some questions to ask are:
- How long has this person been coaching?
- How long did they own their own business?
- Are they will to take on a small business?
- What is their success rate?
- Ask for references
- What can the coach do for me?
A business coach will offer guidance, expect accountability for tasks assigned and offer encouragement to help you meet the steps to success.
Many business coaches offer help in their areas of strength.
They help business owners find what they want to do in a particular field. Many call this role a “business effectiveness” approach. Business effectiveness can span a wide spectrum of sales, customer service, human resources, sales, marketing, leadership, financial management, exit strategy, and succession planning.
When working with your coach, part of the process will be to establish a safe and trusting relationship. A good way to see if the working relationship can go forward is to feel you will be heard in the exchanges. A good coach knows that business coaching is not a one-way road. As the business owner, you have a voice in the transactions.
Comfort in communication
A phrase used in the industry is “safe place,” for business owners, created by Professional Business Coaches Alliance. The expression is important. The words illustrate a supportive environment for the business owner who should feel free and comfortable voicing his or her concerns, opinions and objections to the recommendations of the coach.
While many good meaning people like to offer advice, that advice is tainted by the givers own fears and experience, however well meaning. A coach is arms-length and objective.
How do I find a coach?
Hiring a business coach is not a casual task. It is important to understand your goals first. This is not something to relinquish once you have engaged a coach. You are a team and while you are partnering with a business expert, it is still your responsibility to share your vision for success.
A good approach to finding a business coach is first to analyze your own goals. Did you clearly outline your steps to success to your business plan? Or, maybe this is where you need to begin with your coach.
A lot depends on the stage of your project. Coaches can help you in the early stages to help you get off a strong start and avoid some of the “newbie” errors that often plague the new business owner.
- Talk to other business owners and ask for references
- Search online for companies that offer business coaching and start a dialogue. If communication goes well, set up a conference call or Skype. You will get a good sense if there is a good connection
- During the interview process, see if the person has some good business ideas to offer. Creativity in the coach is key to the nuts and bolts of setting up a strong foundation.
- Understand what you want from your coach. Have your list of questions ready as you do your research and when you area ready to interview potential candidates.
- Your questions should reveal, among other things, an emotional intelligence, commitment and communication levels, experience, you seek.
- Decide whether you need a coach locally with close personal attention or you can work with someone more remote via phone, text and email.
Obtaining the services of the right business coach for you can make the launching of a new business less stressful. An early start in the good direction will help you gain the footing that is needed in those first critical years.
There are times when even the most savvy business person may miss some important key signals because of a laser focus in a different direction. Smart business people understand the need to look for outside perspective.