Do you need a business coach? Here’s how to choose the right one

Have you ever thought whether a business coach uses a coach, or how coaches select their own mentors? This guide goes against what most people expect when it comes to selecting a business or performance coach. You might expect to hear the usual advice: look for credibility, testimonials, qualifications, etc. However, these characteristics can be quite mundane and commoditised, as all coaches have them. So, what should you look for instead? Business advisor Sam Tornatore explains…

Before we jump into my controversial view, let’s be honest about why you might need a business coach in the first place. After all, they are not cheap (but more on that later).

Do you need a business coach?

The primary reason to use a coach or mentor is for performance improvement. If you are already content with your business results, then you don’t need a coach. It’s as simple as that! If you want to be better, then coaching is a super powerful tool and here is why …

A common mentoring myth is that many people believe that coaching is only for individuals who are struggling or have problems. However, coaching is not therapy, and it’s not just for people who are struggling. Coaching is for anyone who wants to improve themselves, their skills, and their business. It’s a proactive and positive approach to personal and professional development that helps people remove roadblocks, develop new skills, and unlock their full potential.

So, if you’re looking to improve, and you can’t seem to get there on your own despite trying many things, then maybe it’s time to use a mentor or coach.

Personally, I’ve always had coaches and mentors and when I do, I flourish. When I don’t, I regress. Even Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, believes that everyone needs a coach. He said, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Why is coaching so effective for performance improvement?

1. Accountability and support

A business or performance coach provides accountability and helps keep you on track towards achieving your goals. They can help you stay motivated and hold you accountable for taking action and making progress. They hold your feet to the fire and help you keep your word to yourself.

2. Perspective and feedback

A mentor provides an outside perspective and objective feedback on your business. They can help you see things from a different angle, identify blind spots, and provide insights and recommendations. They will literally see what you can’t see, because unlike you, they are not caught up in the day-to-day of running your business. Coaches will reveal opportunities hidden in plain sight.

3. Personal and skills development

Finally, a coach can help you develop new skills or improve existing ones. They can provide guidance, resources you may not have thought of or had access to, and unbiased feedback to help you develop the skills you need to succeed in your business or career.

They will help you achieve your goals faster than working on your own. A coach can help you prioritise your efforts, avoid common mistakes, and stay focused on what matters most. They can also help you build your confidence and overcome limiting beliefs or self-doubt. They can provide encouragement, support, and guidance, challenging you to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.

What should you look for when choosing a business coach?

1. Do they walk the talk?

The number one criterion is to choose a business mentor who has the results, or has overcome the challenge that you are looking to solve. If you want to learn how to be a millionaire, that coach must be a millionaire! If you want to learn how to fish, learn from someone who actually catches fish – not just talks about it.

A coach must have walked the talk and not just talked the talk.

Simply ask, “Where in your personal or business life have you achieved what you are teaching me?” or “What examples can you share with me?” Don’t be intimidated to ask these questions – an effective coach will welcome this question, while an ineffective coach will dance around or fumble with the answer.

2. Do they align with your learning style?

You should ensure that their coaching style aligns with your learning style or personality. If not, it can result in ineffective mentoring, miscommunication and frustration.

Before hiring a coach, it is crucial to identify their coaching style to ensure compatibility. If you prefer direct, concise coaching, a soft, counselling mentor may not be suitable for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a methodical and cautious approach, a coach who is too direct can leave you feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied.

3. Are they honest and direct?

An effective business coach must be a truth-teller and tell it like it is. A good mentor wants you to live in a world of non-fiction and not denial.

You don’t need another friend. Of course, you expect bedside manner and professionalism, but too much friendship and crossing social norms and niceties might even compromise the coach’s ability to be independent and unbiased, as they may not want to hurt your feelings.

4. Is the cost worth it?

Finally, let’s talk about costs. The cost of coaching is almost irrelevant unless it is measured against a return on investment (ROI). What you pay should be proportional to what you receive. The coaching cost needs to be weighed up against what value the benefit and improvement returns to you, and where possible, quantify that to an amount.

For example, if a coach can save your business $100,000 annually, paying them $10,000 or $20,000 for their services may be reasonable. Every year you save after that will be yours to keep.

What if your business coach isn’t the best fit?

If you’re not seeing any progress or results after a few coaching sessions, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship and find a new coach who can help you achieve your goals. Be upfront and ensure you are receiving what you want.

Effective coaches know it is OK to disengage if things are not working out, because genuine coaches put more importance on seeing you receiving immense value, rather than continuing having you as a client.

Source: Flying Solo April 2023

This article by is reproduced with the permission of Flying Solo – Australia’s micro business community. Find out more and join over 100K others

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