Every entrepreneur needs a coach. An ambitious athlete wouldn’t dream of going into competition without one. If you take your success (and your well-being) seriously, you’ll want the competitive edge that a skilled coach can give. Whether your business is brand-new, struggling, or thriving, you can probably get more profit and more pleasure with the help of a coach.
Professional coaching (as opposed to athletic coaching) is a developing profession that is helping to change the face of the working world. Designed to help people from all walks of life, coaching is especially helpful to people in challenging professional positions. Coaching takes many of the techniques and strategies that management consulting firms use with corporations, and applies them to the individual. Coaching has been featured in newspapers and magazines around the country including the Wall Street Journal, Executive Female and Newsweek. Entrepreneur magazine recently listed business coaching as one of the top trends of the past year.
What is a coach? A coach is someone with whom you work on an on-going basis whose sole purpose is to support you in doing and being your best. Think of a coach as a personal trainer for your life. By helping you set goals, challenging you to take action, reviewing results, and introducing new concepts and approaches, a coach helps you to produce better results with less effort. Unlike many consultants, a coach stays with you week to week, month to month, and even year to year as you and your business grow. Your coach will become an expert on you and on what you need to be at your best. If you’re an entrepreneur, a coach will also guide you as you set up a strategic business plan, align your business goals with your personal values, eliminate distractions, and plug up profit holes.
The truth is everyone can benefit from coaching. But for the entrepreneur that support is especially crucial. Why?
1. Running a business is risky.
Every year thousands of small businesses fold. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need every advantage to make your business successful and satisfying. By bringing in an objective advisor, who stays with you as you implement new ideas and plans, you tap into a broader range of resources for creating success. A coach will bring her own background and expertise to the table, as well as her experience working with other entrepreneurs. Often, the small shifts that a coach will suggest will have a dramatic impact on how you and your business function. Or a coach may challenge you to dramatic action like doubling your profits, or delegating 50% of your work load.
2. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely.
Entrepreneurs, and especially those who work solo can suffer from a sense of isolation. Sitting at home, or in your office, you may miss the camraderie that larger offices provide. You may lack that feeling of being part of some bigger project. Even if you work with others in your business, the burden of decision-making may fall on your shoulders alone. A coach is there as a partner and cheerleader to share in the successes and setbacks of your business. A good coach will make you feel that you are not in it all alone. Though your business decisions will continue to be yours, a coach will be there to discuss the issues and to give you new perspectives for making the call. A coach will also make sure that your work life is balanced with personal pleasures such as private time, family time, and vacations.
3. Running your own business is labor intensive.
Many entrepreneurs feel that the only way to build a successful business is to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Actually, it is easier to sustain the growth of your business if you take excellent care of your most precious asset, yourself. The short term benefits of a killer schedule are often not worth the long term cost of stress and burnout. In addition, you become far less attractive to potential clients and associates when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. A coach will require that you put your well-being first, make time for friends and family, and redesign your business so that it doesn’t drain you.
4. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture while taking care of the details.
Running your own business, your day may consist of everything from buying stamps, to making calls, to designing a brochure, to keeping your office clean. Even if you have an assistant, you are a jack-of-all-trades, rapidly changing hats to serve all the needs of the business. With so many roles to play, it’s easy to get so focused on details and lose sight of the big picture. By designing and discussing that big picture with your coach, and revisiting those objectives each week, you stay on track with the actions that most contribute to the long-term growth of your business rather than get tied up managing its day-to-day functioning.
Are these challenges that you face? If so, starting a coaching relationship can be the first step to redesigning your relationship to your work. Though some people get effective support from a partner, friend of family member, many find that a professional coach offers the right combination of objectivity, encouragement and challenge. In either case, the key to a successful coaching relationship is to have regular meetings, on an on-going basis, where you are the sole focus for at least half an hour. It’s also important that you trust your coach to be objective, to support you with your agenda, and to communicate ideas in a way that has you hear them. Any relationship that has you feel defensive, pressured to agree, or overloaded with “shoulds” is not going to work.
If you want to explore coaching further, call a coach or two and schedule an introductory appointment. Most coaches are happy to do an initial consultation free of charge. Those sessions will give you a clear sense of what coaching can add to your business and allow you to experience that coach’s personal style. Speak to several. Different coaches have very different energies, philosophies, and styles. Look for someone with whom you feel a sense of connection and by whom you feel challenged. Take time to ask if the coach is herself being coached. A coach who is truly committed to the process will herself be using coaching to get the most out of her life and work.
Becoming successful in your business is your ultimate goal. Isn’t it intruiging to think how much more you could achieve by having a Coach?
by Isabel Parlett