Remember at school there were teachers who seemed to be just putting in the hours and not caring about students? But then there were those who always seemed to be pushing you, taking an interest in what you were doing, and making suggestions about possible careers?
If you were fortunate to have a teacher like the latter type, then that’s kind of what a business coach does. They are a combination of guide and critic – that second aspect being the more important. You might be surprised at what an objective appraisal of your business turns up.
Here’s a look at some of the ways a business coach can help you, when you might be wise to engage their services, and how to stop an approach that won’t be helpful to you.
Business coaches help you see your business as it is
The bottom line is business coaches are there to help you improve your business. The trouble is, you may not believe your business is in need of improvement. Anyone who has seen an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, where he gives advice on how to save an ailing restaurant, knows that incompetent managers refuse to acknowledge faults that are glaringly obvious to everyone else. If your business has the equivalent of a too-ambitious menu or an inedible entree, a business coach will point it out to you.
New solutions to old business problems
According to a report in the Financial Review this year, 70 per cent of small businesses are failing to grow because of poor leadership and failure to adopt innovative technologies. You may realise that your business is not doing well, but you cannot see the solution, which could be something as simple as streamlining your communication systems.
Online faxing for example is now possible thanks to virtual fax numbers that use your existing internet connection and email browser. It’s even possible to send large files for free over the internet using services such as those provided by eFax. If you’re out on the road a lot, download the eFax app and use your phone to scan documents then fax them. Faxes are automatically archived for free in the cloud – and all this without a real fax machine in sight.
Other reasons to call in the business coach
Even if you have your leadership and communications under control, you may still need a business coach if you are:
- Not making as much money as you want.
- Feel you have grown as big as you can but you want to grow more.
- Need someone to bounce ideas off.
The last of these isn’t something you can always do with friends and relatives, who may be more concerned with supporting you, than being brutally honest.
Beware of these bad business coach approaches
If you invite a business coach into your business, you should initially look out for signs that they may not be useful to you. Business coach approaches that may not help you include telling you that you are wonderful and doing great (cheerleading), telling you that you are useless and would be finished without their support (abusive) or simply telling you things you already know and acknowledge. “You’re going to need a new retail outlet, this one is too small” is hardly an astute observation when you are both standing shoulder to shoulder squashed inside your tiny shop.
Business owners can benefit from business coaches, but it has to be the right coach and it has to be at a time when you feel you need to leap to the next level, or are having difficulty doing so and need expert advice. Find a business coach who has worked in your sector before, ask for references and talk informally before you engage them. It could be the best business decision you’ve made in a while.