As a founder of a start-up business, you’ve just entered the ranks of becoming a soon-to-be entrepreneurial failure or a near-term entrepreneurial success. Being a subject matter expert in a particular job, skill or area is one thing, being a generalist for the whole business is something else entirely.
Running your own business can also be very lonely. There is no one to turn to when the chips are down or to reassure you that you are on the right path.
Hiring a business coach will provide you with objective insights into how to run your business better, increase sales and improve your skills as a CEO.
Research by the International Coach Federation has shown that, of small business owners that have hired a business coach, 70% have seen increased work performance, 86% have seen a return on investment and an impressive 99% of entrepreneurs were happy that they made the decision to hire a business coach. It simply makes good business sense to appoint a business coach at some time in your entrepreneurial career.
Start-up owners often find their time occupied with performing tasks that could easily be delegated to a lower-level employee. A business coach can help you establish your role and responsibilities as CEO. Writing out your responsibilities in conjunction with your business’ strategic goals can help you directly connect your activities with the outcome you’d like based on the goals. A business coach can also help you let go of the impulse to do everything in the company. Being the most important person in the business makes you the bottleneck, also known as the weakest link. Without you there, the business does not exist. Entrepreneurs need to spend more time working on their business, not in it.
Serial entrepreneurs or those business owners who have never had a boss have always only been accountable to themselves. With no one to check up on your progress, or lack of it, accountability resides entirely with you. This will almost certainly lead to blind spots, those seemingly unimportant details that you avoid because you just don’t enjoy doing them, or you’re not good at them.
A business coach will keep you accountable to your business goals and will not only be your accountability partner but will also be able to look at your tasks objectively and tell you where you’re losing time and effort. As owners, we often become pre-conditioned by what’s happened in the past, not what can happen in the future. This is where an objective viewpoint can be most valuable, to unlock those gridlocks in the mind.
This is one of the first signs that you need a business coach. If you have reached a point where you feel there is very little time in the day to satisfactorily complete all the tasks to take the business forward. If you feel that you are losing control of your business or employees, then it’s time to consider an external eye to help you to take a strategic view of the business. A view from 30,000 feet up provides a lot more clarity than being IN the day-to-day running of the business. A good business coach should be able to take you on the helicopter flight high in the sky to have a strategic look at your business and to figure out how to work ON the business instead.
The objective view of a business coach can be just what’s needed to get you or your company out of a rut or take it to the next level. This could be a part of the blind spot problem, where things are simply ticking over and you may need a jolt to get you to start thinking about your business differently. It could be simple things you’re probably ignoring or think you’re in control of and it’s not until you get things down on paper and discuss it that you start identifying these grey areas.
The sounding board
Nowhere else do you find somebody solely dedicated to acting as your own personal sounding board. A good coach should be a good listener to be able to probe and ask powerful questions that unearths otherwise deeply entrenched values or ideas. A good coach will also be non-judgmental. It’s not the coach’s responsibility to opine about your position, but rather to suspend judgment in such a way that guides you toward your own goals. A business coach will challenge your thinking, goals and willingness to grow.
While there is no definitive answer for when to hire a business coach, a good benchmark for knowing its time is when you say, “I don’t know what to do next.” It is important to get help early and often because even superheroes don't do it alone. Everyone needs collaboration and advice to conquer the world. Just remember, every business owner is different, and everyone’s progression in owning a business is different.
The value of coaching resides in the mental tools acquired during the coaching process to help you navigate toward success both inside and outside of the business world. Every athlete and every top performer uses a coach to bring out their best. Why don’t you?