Many business owners at some point ponder the question ‘do I need a business coach?’ Well after watching the Australian Open 2019 Men’s Final last night it seems like a no brainer to utilise a coach! However, there are reasons why this is more confusing than it first seems.
All top sportspeople have coaches!
Have you noticed all top sportspeople have coaches, but in business we’re often reluctant to be coached? Many see it as a shortcoming, I’m not good enough if I need someone to help me. This is so wrong, and the opposite of the way coaches are looked upon in the sporting world. Novak Djokovic reverted to a prior coach in 2018. This followed the combined effect a change in coach and surgery following an injury saw him fall in ranking. Not only did Novak return to number one, but the coach also won coach of the year in 2018. His performance over Rafa Nadal in the 2019 Australian Open Final was a stunning victory.
Using the tennis example, it’s obvious to see practice and being pushed to achieve more from a great coach can achieve top results. Novak displayed this last night with amazing vigour. What could a business coach push you to achieve?
What exactly is a business coach?
There is often confusion about what a business coach, business consultant, mentor, business advisor or business trainer can offer. In some cases, the confusion is because many of us can cover more than one role. Here I cover what each role should entail.
These are the people that will question you, observe and listen to your responses. They will challenge you on the way you’re conducting yourself and on what you’re doing and will seek to extract the best from you. They may help hold you accountable, but they will make sure you’re assimilating your own priorities and direction. They’ll teach you some principles and techniques but will not provide hard core business advice or instruction. Coaches can be generalist or target certain parts of your business, like mindset, systems or goal setting. They do not need to be industry specific.
Advisors are people who will give you advice based on their skills and knowledge. They are supplying their views, and hopefully their well-researched and accurate answers to all your business questions. They will often connect you with tools, software, resources, websites, Government and private providers of services to assist your business. As a NSW Government funded Business Connect Advisor I have extensive experience in this role, and cover a wide breadth of advice areas due to my combined theory from study and work experience. Note, I don’t need to be in the same industry as you to provide valuable advice. I would defer a question to a more knowledgeable source if it was required.
Consultants hone in and complete an in-depth review on an aspect (for instance human resources) or aspects of your business. They may or may not also assist you to implement changes they recommend. Because of the in-depth nature, they must be specialists in the field in which they work, for instance human resources, and may work across industries, although many will specialise, for instance hospitality or fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
Mentors are someone who has already gone the path you want to achieve before you. For instance, if you wanted to be the next Tony Robbins, then he would be the best person to mentor you! However, let’s be realistic, Tony Robbins is a little out of reach, so you’d choose someone a little closer to your starting point. Someone you could reach out to through your network, or even LinkedIn, and see if they will assist you. Often mentors are retired or have moved on after making a killing, and are happy to share some of their great knowledge with a mentee (the person receiving the mentoring – you). Typically they are in the same industry as you, although for people wanting to enter the C Suite – Chief Executive level, then you may find another Chief Executive who pathed the way moving up the ranks in their industry, rather than in your industry.
Business trainers train you in certain business skills they have acquired through a combination of theory and experience. Note these elements should go hand in hand, because one without the other often leads to inferior outcomes. At FAQ Business Training we pride ourselves on a high-quality combination of both, and will therefore work with experts in their fields to ensure our students (business owners) are learning exactly what they need and can implement.
What help do you need?
Make a critical evaluation and assess what you need. Is it filling in gaps in your knowledge? Then an advisor or trainer may be your best starting point. Are you just not happy with how quickly you’re getting your goals achieved, or even if they’re the right goals? A coach may be the most suitable for you. Have you got a problem area in your business that needs a review and overhaul? Yes, that’s one for a business consultant. Are you looking to learn from someone else’s successes and failures? A mentor will help you there.
You can have more than one
I often work with people that have multiple people assisting them. They capitalise on each skillset and really help themselves and their business grow. If your area is like NSW, Australia you’ll have a Government funded advisory service available. It would be silly not taking advantage of this resource provided at no or low cost to you, and this is often the best starting point. After that use the assessment above to work out who can best assist you, whether that is one person or a few different people or services. The business advisor may be able to connect you with suitable people.
But I can’t afford it right now
We can’t always afford to spend money on everything our business needs, especially when money is tight in the start-up phase. As suggested, take up any services available to you for free, or take advantage of the free advice (such as this) to try out their service. If you can’t get anything out of their free offer, why do you think things will be better from a paid offer?
Assessing different providers
Work out your overall needs (mentor, coach, trainer etc) and also your specific goals from reaching out and seeking help. Question people you plan to work with and take up any offers of a discovery call or an introductory consultation. Please do NOT sign up to an expensive program or a program with a long lock-in period. For instance, although Tony Robbins is/was loved by many, there are also people who can’t stand his style. Morale of the story, only you can assess whether a person is a good fit for you! Although you often need to work with someone for an extended time to see the big results, you should be progressing along the way. If you’re not, you would want the ability to get out without a massive penalty.
So, do you need a business coach?
Using the tennis example, then yes it would seem every business owner would benefit from a coach (even coaches have coaches). However, the decision whether you need a business coach right now should depend on your funds availability and whether addressing issues first would be a more effective idea.
This blog was written by our Founder Jane Tweedy.
Jane is currently a Business Connect Advisor part-time for NSW small businesses in Western Sydney (especially Blacktown and The Hills), and Founder and Lead Trainer of FAQ Business Training. Outside NSW Jane can offer remote business advice and some business consulting through FAQ Business Consulting. Please contact Jane here.
About FAQ Business Training
FAQ Business Training has a mission to educate and empower small business owners to learn to do it yourself (DIY) or outsource with confidence, through topical and practical bite sized training. We provide face to face training in Western Sydney and will be providing online training through Udemy and our own Teachable platform soon.