Business coaches can help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level with their valuable perspective and advice. Business coaches are expert consultants experienced in launching new businesses, scaling and growing businesses, and otherwise strategically approaching key entrepreneurial challenges. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to launch, improve, or grow your business, you may want to consider if working with a business coach or mentor is right for you.
What do business coaches do?
Business coaches work with entrepreneurs to offer personalized guidance to support their clients’ goals. A business coach is a consultant who helps you to solve problems, provides specialized knowledge, and helps you to build your business.
Your goal might be to start a new business, run your existing business better, to scale and grow your business, or to gain investor buy-in. The right business coach will ask questions to help you define and shape your plans, and use their expertise to provide you with valuable advice and actionable next steps.
What’s the difference between a business coach and a mentor?
The main difference between a business coach and a mentor is the timeline. A business mentor is someone who works with you for an extended time and helps you develop new skills as your business grows and changes. A business coach, on the other hand, is someone who will help you for a short period of time to focus on a specific developmental goal.
To sum up: if you’re looking for someone to help you achieve short-term goals in a structured or more hands-on way, you’re probably looking for a business coach. If you’re looking for a long-term mentor to consult with and get advice from over the long-term as you grow your business, you’re probably looking for a business mentor.
What are the advantages of having a business coach?
A business coach can give you an edge to help your small business become more competitive. Business coaches can bring a valuable outsider perspective, as well as years of expertise to your business, and can help you grow as an entrepreneur.
A business coach can help:
· Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business
· You get through challenges and take the next steps towards success
· Hold you accountable and help you with follow-through
· Offer expert advice and feedback
When is the right time to work with a business coach?
While there’s no “right” time to work with a business coach, entrepreneurs might find it useful to bring in a small business coach at specific times in their company’s growth.
1. Starting your business
Launching a business can be scary! If you’re new to entrepreneurship, a business coach can share valuable knowledge and help you to put in initial systems. A business coach could help you to choose the right business structure for you, help you write a business plan or allow you to start a new business from home.
2. Scaling and growing your business
As you grow your business, you may find yourself overwhelmed. You may feel like there are all kinds of systems you’d like to streamline or improve—but you don’t know where to start. A business coach can use their outsider perspective to help you come up with procedures to increase productivity and lower stress.
3. Securing venture funding for your business
A business coach can help you build the communication and negotiation strategies you need to demonstrate the value of your business to investors. A business coach can help you articulate your business’s growth potential and help you to build your skills in working with this kind of financing. Business coaches can also talk you through alternate forms of funding, whether it be in the form of grants or even crowdfunding.
How to decide if you need a business coach
The decision to hire a business coach comes down to you and your business’s needs. Before you do anything else, try establishing your needs and ask yourself if it’s the right time for you to work with a business coach. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make the decision:
1. Do you feel lost or overwhelmed?
A business coach will have a valuable perspective that can help you make sense of your concerns. A business coach can help you with time management strategies: how to create a daily to-do, organize your tasks, and learn when to delegate—so that you can take control of the myriad working parts of your business without burning out.
2. Do you need help with follow-through?
We all need to be held accountable sometimes. A business coach can give you the motivation you need to follow-through on tasks and projects—sometimes, we’re more likely to complete tasks if we feel like we’re letting down more people than just ourselves.
3. Do you feel like there are holes in your knowledge or skill-set?
A business coach brings years of expertise to the table and can help you develop the skills you need to take your company to the next level. If you feel there’s a particular area of your business where you’re struggling, a business coach can help you to learn and to develop new skills.
How to find a small business coach
If you’ve decided you want to work with a business coach, then the next step is to find one that’s a good fit.
Your first step might be to seek referrals from your networks. Have other entrepreneurs worked with someone great recently? Keep in mind that all businesses are different, and a business coach that was great for another entrepreneur might not be right for your needs.
If you don’t get any referrals from your network, start looking online. Remember to check that the business coach has the kind of experience that you’re looking for. If you’re looking for support in digital marketing, for example, be sure to find a business coach who has that skill set. You also may want to make sure they have experience working with small businesses like yours.
Once you’ve identified a shortlist—set up some conversations. Nearly all business coaches will offer a free consultation. In that call, pay attention to if the coach seems like a good listener, and if it feels like a good personality fit. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do they seem like they understand you and your business needs?
Finally, before making your decision, you’ll want to check references and credentials. Ask the business coach’s previous clients about their experiences, and see if it matches up with the kind of experience that you’re looking for.
Remember that while you’re not hiring an employee, you are hiring a consultant, and some of the tenants of hiring the right employee for your small business will still apply.
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you think working with a business coach will be worth it or not. Either way, trust your judgement. After all, you know your business and its needs best!