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Are Business Coaches a Good Idea?

Today we’re going to discuss an interesting topic, are business coaches a good idea?  The discussion is prompted by a comment a business owner recently gave to someone advocating business coaching in response to “what was he doing to keep more money every month to build wealth?”  His response was “I now keep $4000 each month rather than giving it to a business coach”.  It’s an interesting point is a business coach just another expense or does he/she provide real meaningful value?

Generally, the people talking about this stuff are the coaches, authors, speakers, consultants, etc. those who have an invested interest in you paying for their services and that of their colleagues.  On the other hand it can’t be denied that top athletes all have coaches is that just a sports phenomenon?  Or have the sports coaches pulled the wool over the eyes of the athletic community?  It’s also noteworthy that major business leaders (former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is one of the most prominent examples of someone who publically advocated it as one of the best pieces of advice for a business leader).  Then again maybe that applies for high level business leaders and athletes and not those starting out?

It’s certainly undeniable that coaching can be a significant expense for a small business owner where $1000-$10 000 per month can make a huge difference.  By contrast for a company like Google affording a coach is really a non-issue it’s more a question of the leader’s time and focus than the actual monetary cost and the gain can be phenomenal because it’s leveraged over a much larger organization.  But is this an argument against coaching in low level business?

The simple answer is “it depends” on both the coach and the person being coached.  If you’re not coachable then having a coach is a waste of money.  There are also a lot of crap coaches out there and business tends to suffer a higher percentage of them than sports.  What’s the problem?  The process.  If you look at a professional athlete the way they are coached is the coach runs them through drills over and over, observes what they are doing and corrects.  In the case of business coaches most tend to operate by meeting with you every so often, sitting down to talk about the business generally with no hard data such as actual numbers and ask you questions to try to get you to do something different.  Not very surprising when the process is less effective than it is in athletics since sports coaches are generally training you the way you actually get better at things, business coaches are often like a friend discussing business issues with you, not that this can’t be effective but it tends to be less effective.

If you’ve got a great coach the coach can be worth their cost many times over.  Why?  Because it can drastically shortcut your learning, which is the most costly and difficult part of success for most people.

So how do you select a coach that’s going to be worthwhile?  Focus on someone who has already solved (either themselves or with someone else) the problems you are facing, someone who can tell you “hey this is what you need to do right now and here’s how to do it”.  That kind of insight is immeasurably valuable.  Want to rank on Google?  You better have someone who can look at your webpage and tell you specifically the exact fields that need to be changed, what they need to be changed to, and how.

Next, if you’re going to get a coach get someone who will delve right into the metrics of the company with you and provide those metrics.  Someone who expects to sit in a boardroom across the country somewhere spilling out advice without direct information about your business isn’t the right person.  If you’ve got a problem with staff you want someone who can spend time in the environment with the staff and make an assessment.  If they are going to coach you on how to manage and lead those staff members they need to be able to watch you do it not just hear about what you think happened but observe it directly.

Of course all of this means nothing if they aren’t going to hold you accountable and you’re not going to trust them and do what they say so make sure you’re coachable.  If you put all of those together a great coach can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

If you’d like to learn more about about how to select a good coach or how to make the most of a coach or have any other business or wealth building questions please contact us by clicking “Ask a business question” floating at the bottom right of your screen.