As an entrepreneur, you would like to handle many tasks on your own however going all alone may not be a prudent decision. Running an enterprise or a startup cannot be a one-man show. A coach in such a scenario helps an entrepreneur move from where he is to where he wants to be. A business coach can serve as a mentor and partner in business effectiveness and/or personal effectiveness i.e., sectors like Human Resources, Business Development, Customer Service, Sales and Marketing, System Implementation, Business Planning, Managing Finances and Daily Executions. Coaches can help fill in the gap and give insights which will make the difference and turn things around.
A business coach is different from a consultant or an advisor, although often put in the same category, as he works along and guides the businessmen discover solutions rather than providing solutions themselves. A consultant is a specialist and concentrates on a specific area only, whereas a coach is a generalist who, however, does not provide any formal report on the work delivered. They are basically trained to help people grow and flourish in a protective environment.
A business coach is available 24x7 to help, assist, guide and motivate an entrepreneur.
In today’s world, there is a variety of coaches like, life coaches, sports coaches, business coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, organizational coaches etc. The only common aim that all these coaches have is to help extract the best in the concerned. Business coaching is an interactive process that helps bring about effectiveness in achieving the business and personal goals of the entrepreneur.
A business coach not only provides a realistic assessment of the business but also helps with valuable feedback and instills accountability. Such a built-in accountability in a coach helps remind an entrepreneur of his target or vision and thereby leads to hundred percent executions of plans. Although an outsider, a coach helps assess the strengths of the owner thereby, developing the strength to the fullest. He provides a third party perspective and the much-needed discipline, leading to enhanced performance.
A business coach will:
- Gauge the current situation of the business.
- Create a vision and set new standards.
- Define and differentiate between personal and business goals.
- Enhance skills including the development of intellectual acumen.
- Prepare an action plan for overall business growth.
- Help take a decision, be efficiently productive and commercially viable.
- Help focus on strategic thinking.
- Listens to the business leader’s problems and offer solutions.
- Provide candid feedback.
- Ensure growth through challenges.
Hiring a coach becomes a smart move when there is a need of an expert opinion to extract the best from a given situation.
A business coach will not only help develop a productive attitude but also help maximize the leader’s potential. An entrepreneur should keep in mind that coaches are not intermediaries; rather they act as a guide in difficult times. They are also not directors instead they observe, encourage and offer ideas which in turn help the business owner take correct decisions.
A certified coach is an option to explore for many small business owners. Experience, apart from certification, too is vital. Hiring the right coach can prove to be the greatest investment for a small start-up. One should always check the credentials of the coach in order to assess how much experience they have in coaching entrepreneurs. Coaches do offer an introductory session, which should be attended before finalizing on the coach and his services.
An entrepreneur should avoid diluting the relationship and clearly demarcate between professional and personal realms. One should remember that coaches are not paid to make the business owner feel good and take them far away from reality. Legitimate coaches are critics and help entrepreneurs scale up with their insight.
A coach provides much-needed encouragement to take the next step towards success. They conduct a SWOT analysis on the entrepreneurial venture before extending their services during the startup sessions. Some coaches approach with a list of questions whereas few others let it be a free flow discussion. With this, they help in bringing out the hidden talent which surprises oneself. A detailed evaluation is essential before the business owner starts utilizing the services of a coach.
SWOT analysis will ensure establishing tough goals along with being realistic at the same time. Achieving such goals helps boost the confidence of the business owner and set higher and tougher goals for future. The said analysis will also help prioritize needs, be it customers, business partners, family or clients. Such prioritizing will enable the business owner balance their different segments of life including mental and physical health.
An effective and experienced coach observes, evaluates and ensures the growth of the business and the business leader as well.
Selecting the right coach for your business
While selecting a coach, one must ensure:
- The coach is compatible and accessible. A coach should also be a good listener as he helps the entrepreneur find his inner wisdom.
- The coach should be patient to interact and respect the business set up. He should also be a people’s person and effective teacher.
- A good coach will motivate you and pull you out of a trap when you get stuck with no solution. At times, it becomes difficult to drive oneself with self-motivation, and that is where a coach plays a pivotal role.
- They often challenge the owners to try new methods, techniques, ideas and test oneself. They give that space which allows a business owner’s creativity flourish and help him generate more income or revenues.
- They help him overcome his insecurities and build a virtually safe environment to think, test and grow.
In the process of coaching, a coach ends up training the business owner on leadership skills, building relationships, formulating strategies, motivating, and enhancing productivity.
Coaching as a process lasts for a minimum of one year as a coach helps in creating long lasting changes and developing positive habits in the entire system.
Having said this, a business owner should remember that a coach does not have any secret powers or a magic wand. They only help foresee business aspects which he might have missed. They work without any hidden agendas and free of judgment unlike the family, friends, vendors etc. A coach represents only the interest of an individual, i.e. the entrepreneur. A coach is expected to be a role model and leads by example.
The coaching relationship is a mutually cohesive relationship and flourishes only if both work in good faith. A coach will always ensure to enable the business leader to work independently. The business leader should be open to transition and work on building the bond with the coach.
Both the parties must interact and have sessions at least once a week in order to discuss the obstacles faced on a daily basis and real-time improvements, if any to be made. Progress on previous meetings and plan for subsequent meetings should be the agenda of the weekly meetings. This helps set the right strategy keeping in mind the routine challenges and leads to fine-tuning. A coach might also provide links of industry experts which prove to be resourceful in the long run. At the later stage of coaching, the coach will not only guide, but also direct. He has both, the strength & expertise to push the leader into discoveries and enable growth.