No one is telling you what to do. There’s no performance review at the end of the quarter. You get to make ALL of the decisions, ALL of the time.
If you’ve been running your own show for any amount of time, you know that those statements can evoke a couple of very different, very contrasting, reactions.
Some days, those words are music to your ears. They’re wonderful! They’re freeing! They remind you that you could never again imagine doing things any other way and working for The Man again.
And other days… they’re burdensome.
Some days, you think….Really? Do I have to figure out everything around here? You might not want someone else to tell you what to do, but it might be nice to get someone else’s perspective (other than your understanding spouse’s) once in a while.
That’s where a Small Business Coach comes in.
Entrepreneurs are often drawn to the coaching process because of its very structure. As opposed to hiring consultants to come in and tell them what is wrong with their businesses, entrepreneurs hire coaches to come alongside them and work with them to discover the areas that should be addressed. Rather than advising clients what to do or necessarily how to do it, coaches skillfully guide their clients down a path that will help them discover the solutions that are ideal for their unique businesses. By asking thought-provoking, challenging questions, coaches help their clients gain clarity and focus with regard to their issues, goals, and visions. A coach can serve as a sounding board, confidant, mentor, and cheerleader.
Whether you’re dealing with start-up, growth, or stagnation issues,you might find that a business coach may be able to help guide your small business to greater success. Let’s look at some of the top reasons that small business owners decide to work with coaches:
Non-Advice Format: As we mentioned above, many small business owners don’t want to be told what to do. While they love the freedom of being their own bosses, they sometimes just need to talk with someone who can help them make sense of all of those ideas swirling around in their heads. Business coaches are quite skilled listeners, and their job is to help you crystallize your thoughts into strategic action plans. As a group, they are well-known for asking direct, pointed questions that demand thoughtful analysis on the client’s part. They are trained to see inefficiencies and inconsistencies and will readily “bust” you in these areas (or, help you to “bust” yourself in them!) and will assist you in developing solutions.
A Different Perspective: A business coach is removed enough from “the daily grind” of your business to be able to help you identify areas that may need change. Again, through powerful questioning, a coach will be able to help you sort through your challenge areas and brainstorm ideas for things that you should start doing, stop doing, and keep doing.
Developing a Vision for Your Business: It’s incredibly easy to get involved in the day-to-day activities of running a business. As Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, often says, business owners spend too much time working in their businesses rather than on their businesses. As the owner, everything you do should be vision-driven. If you don’t have a clear and concise vision for where your company is headed, you’ll quite easily find yourself feeling like you’re just doing another J-O-B as opposed to being a visionary entrepreneur who is truly creating something amazing. If your coach has undergone formal training, she will have learned basic coaching foundational skills that will allow her to help you focus not only on your business, but also on integrating your business goals with your life. Since most entrepreneurs choose to start their own ventures as a way-of-life solution, wanting benefits like flexible work schedules and more time with family, it only makes sense that the two areas should be highly integrated. A coach will help you learn how to make your business work for you, rather than you working for it.
Goal- Setting/ Accountability: As a small business owner, your To-Do list is often long and well-intentioned. If you’ve ever studied time management theories, you may recall the Four Quadrants regarding urgency and importance. Your coach will help you identify those Quadrant 2 (important but not urgent) activities and help you to brainstorm ways that you can spend more time in fulfilling your vision by focusing on those activities. Together, you’ll set goals that will be specific and measurable. You’ll also create deadlines for these goals, and your coach will be there to hold you accountable for achieving them.
Support: Yes, it can be lonely at the top. Entrepreneurs are a special breed – driven, focused, fiercely independent, strong-willed, and determined. We don’t shy away from challenges, we can plow through adversity, and we sometimes amaze others at all that we do. We’re tough on the outside, but… sometimes even we could use a little encouragement. A business coach is a supporter, a cheerleader, and and encourager… someone who is truly in your corner and is committed to helping you achieve success. Your success is their success. We all know there are days that we need someone in this role!
While great entrepreneurs are, by nature, highly independent, they also easily recognize that being resourceful and reaching out for help at certain types is critical. Different seasons of running a business bring different challenges, and added support may be the right thing during some of those seasons. Some business owners will work with a coach for a brief time only, and some may prefer to check in regularly but less frequently. Most coaches are quite flexible in accommodating the needs of their clients and in creatively working out coaching packages that are appropriate at any given time.
If you’re ready to take the next step in learning more about coaching for your small business, I’d like to invite you to check out our SmallBiz Coaching Directory that we’ve put together here on the site. This post, and our Coaching Directory, were created in response to the great number of inquiries that we have had regarding business coaching in general and requests for business coach referrals. We hope that both the list and this article will assist you in further determining if coaching is right for your business.
If you’ve had a great coaching experience (as either coach or coachee)— please share below! We’d love to hear about it!