Many small business owners want to give themselves the best advantage possible—especially when first starting out. And so, a number of them will go ahead and enlist the services of a business coach. Understanding the difference between a coach and a consultant is key, as most will benefit more from a coach; whereas a consultant tends to take a more limited role.
So the question is then, should you hire a business coach? What could you gain from it? And how could such a coach help improve your company's prospects? In this article, we will tell you a little bit about what to look for in a coach and potentially, how they might just be able to help you grow.
Understanding What a Business Coach Does
What are your goals? And not just professionally either, as in some instances personal goals intersect with those of your career. If you're not sure or haven't defined them fully, then this is certainly one area in which a coach can help. Along these lines, also consider what challenges might prevent you from fully realizing your goals? Helping entrepreneurs overcome obstacles is another of a business coach's roles.
Some business coaches may have a certain niche or field within which they specialize; for instance, sales, marketing, small business operations or even taxes. This is something else you should take into consideration: whether or not a coach with a more narrow specialty could benefit you.
The Value of Hiring a Coach
If you are on the fence about whether you should go ahead and hire a coach, you might ask yourself the following:
- Am I trying to do too much myself?
- Am I maximizing ROI in my various budgets?
- Am I frequently thinking, I wish I had someone to bounce ideas off of?
- Do I lack communication skills—especially when engaging employees?
- Do I understand the best ways to scale my business?
You might think of a business coach as a mentor. They offer advice, convey their own experiences, and in the process give you the benefit of lessons they've learned. In fact, for many entrepreneurs, a small business coach really can give them that competitive advantage they otherwise lack.
In Person Versus Online
Another thing to ask yourself is whether or not you want to meet with someone in person or if you're comfortable with it, hold sessions online. More and more business coaches are working with their clients via online channels. Whether Skype, Facetime or some other such platform, you can have a meeting wherever. There is quite a bit of flexibility going this route.
If however, the business coach lives in close proximity, you may opt for in-person meetings, as this might better foster a relationship between you. Plus, they can then visit your place of business and have a much better handle on the overall situation.
What to Look for in a Small Business Coach
There are a few basic things that every good coach should have. Carefully evaluate any prospective coaches to ensure that they are first and foremost a good fit for you and your company.
Obviously, the coach needs to be able to communicate well. Not only that, but they need to establish a rapport with their clients—this is essential. In the end, you really do want someone with whom you seem to click.
Are they Accessible?
If you live in drastically different time zones, for instance, accessibility may be an issue. Also, how many clients do they have? If you are one among a list of hundred, then odds are you won't get the attention you need.
Do the business coach's ethics and value system match yours? This is an important one. You don't want someone who isn't honest and doesn't have a standard of integrity when it comes to the way in which they believe business should be conducted.
Key Things When Interviewing a Business Coach
As with any position for which you are hiring and for which you intend to pay someone, a business coach should be open to the interviewing process. After all, you are investing money in their services and so you need to make sure that they are a good fit.
Create a list of relevant questions and in the process of asking them, gauge how you feel the compatibility and rapport are. This again is ultra important when you are considering working with any coach.
- What type of coaching process do you have? – getting a look at how they operate will help determine what they might do for you
- Ask for references – if they are forthright and upfront they should have no problem providing a list of satisfied clients
- Ask about online versus in-person coaching – again, get to the matter of accessibility quickly
- Ask about their accomplishments – a coach should be someone with expertise and with something of an impressive list of credentials
- Ask about obstacles they've helped others overcome – even in how they tell the story you can learn a lot about their character; for instance, do they take all the credit?
- How about their history as a coach – this will allow you to see something of their track record, whom they've helped, and what they've achieved in terms of their coaching profile
Small Business Coaching Costs
This could actually be something of a fairly significant expense; that said, you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons, see if in fact, a business coach is someone who could help bolster your company, and ultimately transform you into a more effective leader. Just to give you a general idea, some start at $75-100 per hour. This could be a lot more depending on location, business type and the coach's experience level/reputation.
There may also be discounts if you opt for a package deal. All in all, you want to look at a variety of factors and points. A coach could dramatically help you and your company—but it definitely needs to be the right coach!