When it comes to investing in a business coach, there are several questions that you need to ask before taking that leap into working closely with an expert in this field, and in this article we will help you to explore those things so that you don’t make a costly error.
Question 1 – Why do you want one?
There are a couple of answers to this question, depending on where you are in your business. Firstly, your investigation into a business coach (or other similar solution which we will cover shortly) will stem out of your current business position, as there has to be a need (there is a challenge in your business) or a desire (wanting to do stuff better).
If you are in the first camp, where a business coach is being viewed as a support because you need them, there is clearly an issue you want to address in the business to get you to where you want to be now, more so than in the longer term. As such, a business coach will need to be able to integrate and understand your business quickly, and offer help, guidance and suggestions to help you to “fix the problems.”
If you are looking at creating a better version of your current business, there is a greater desire to think more of the future than the here and now. Ultimately you could see these too roles as fixer and growth specialist respectively
So understand why you want a coach and then seek out those that are most aligned to helping you scratch the itch you currently have.
Question 2 – What sort of coach do you want?
All coaches are the same, right? WRONG!
Coaching is a broad term used by many business advisory businesses as they believe that everyone needs and understands what coaching is and when someone searches for “coaching” online, they will be the provider of choice.
However there is a real need to understand what support you are looking for and drill down into what you expect the “coach” to do. For instance, in our business, we do deliver coaching to some of our clients, but not all of them.
For some, we are a mentor – working with the business owner as a guide, a sounding board, someone who they can have serious conversations with about the challenges in their business or the wider market. Our clients here drawn down from our vast experience and utilise the challenges and solutions we have had to help their business.
For others, we act as an accountability partner – someone who is there that keeps track of the score. A partner who will hold your “feet to the fire” in order to ensure you get stuff done and move your business in the right direction.
We also deliver strategic consultancy, which is more about engaging with the senior leaderships teams and boards and designing what the future looks like, across customer engagement, sales and marketing programmes, pricing strategy or operational functionality.
Finally, and not withstanding, we deliver high level coaching to business owners. We work closely with these individuals – but not like many other coaching businesses, who we know operate like teachers, telling their clients what to do and marking their homework. We work in our clients’ businesses and where we see a gap, or lack of expertise in an area, we take that on, on their behalf.
For instance, with one client, their weakness was in truly understanding their numbers – so we did this for them. We created a way for them to track their financials easily, explained what everything meant and gave them the confidence to make commercial decisions. Within six months, that business had gone from £85k a year turnover to £1.35m. We knew that the barrier for growth for them was their lack of understanding about numbers would hold them back, so rather than, as a coach would, tell them to sort their numbers out – we did it for them.
Question 3 – Large coaching franchise or independent business experts?
There are benefits to both, and I hope that below you will be able to see which one best suits your challenges.
For the larger coaching businesses, they are either part of a franchise, or a huge organisation and it is important to understand this. The latter are probably more aligned to working with FTSE500 companies in the “management consulting” area of work, but as with any large business, they come with large overheads and ultimately higher costs. Now this should not be a distraction as if they can deliver for you and there is strong enough return on investment (ROI) then you should be using them. If this is not clear you may be better avoiding “the big boys.”
There are also franchise networks who work with clients in a coaching framework, companies such as ActionCOACH. These too have a great place in the marketplace as they have a wide network of franchisees, most of which have previously run businesses and who are now investing in a territory or sector and then marketing to secure their own clients. The clear benefit here is that they have a framework of tools to work with that can help you in certain areas of your business. Finding the right partner here could be the best thing you could do.
There are other coaching and consultancy businesses, like ours, who thrive by working in the middle ground and have the ability to work with companies of all sizes (our current client base goes from £20k a year to £7m a year), using both predetermined processes and frameworks as well as our own proven solutions that are aligned to each business specifically. These businesses are more focused on fitting your model and challenges than making you “similar to company X that they are also working with right now.”
Yes they may be slightly more expensive, however in our opinion the support programmes are more aligned to you as a unique business.
Ultimately you need to find a provider who fits your needs, your business and that you get on with. There is no “one” perfect solution – you need to just be confident of the results the coach can offer and that, more importantly, you can feel trust and commitment from them.