If your business needs help, get some ideas here!

At the risk of droning into sports analogies, I thought the “teaser” question added illustration as well as provoke attention!  But really, its kind of a difficult question until you try coaching for yourself.  So, maybe you can’t answer the question(s) above.  But keep reading.  If you are looking for ideas, hopefully you will get a few here!    

Listen to these statistics; coaching can improve profits by 46% (Forbes), 99% of those that hire coaches are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” (ICF), 86% of companies that use coaches see a double digit ROI (ICF Coaching Study), and 61% said they improved their business management skills thanks to coaching.  We could go on, but you get it.  Coaching has some good stats! 

So, what is the big deal?  If all those statistics are true, coaching is a no brainer, right?  Well, as I have heard before when talking to a business owner or leader about coaching…“not so fast.” 

How do you know if you need help?

This seems to be one of the most difficult questions to answer.  Here are the TOP 3 things I have heard from prospective clients:

  • “We’re doing OK right now.  We are really busy and can’t afford to devote the time to coaching.”
  • “What we are doing is working.  We could probably improve in some areas, but we really don’t see a need for coaching right now.”
  • “We don’t think coaching could make any difference to our business.  We are a part of several online communities and groups that are our go-to when we have questions.”

I think you probably picked up on it…none of these businesses believe they could benefit or need help from an, ugh, “outsider.”

As you might expect, there are very good responses to the comments above.  But we have a question here…how do you know if you need help?  Let me give you 3 ways to tell if you need help:

  1. You are constantly feeling distracted by the day to day – one of the primary functions of a coach is to look at the macro activity in your business and help you visualize priorities.  They help you see not just the first things to do, but the things that, done first, affect everything else.
  • You know the things you need to do and your goals, you just don’t know how to get things accomplished consistently– Another primary function of a coach is to serve as a “game planner,” helping you create order out of chaos.  They provide you with “if…then” guidance.  For example, “if you hire this person, the revenue required to offset that investment would be XXXX! 
  • You know you have a problem, but you don’t know how to solve itthis is typically the most common issue for why you might need help.  A coach looks at a problem or issue and uses their experience to assess, recommend solutions, and participate in the resolution of challenging situations. 

An interesting truth about the above conditions is that I have seen them everywhere, from one person companies to large enterprises.  In kind of a weird way…size doesn’t seem to matter! 

You Can’t Start in the Middle

I have also found there to be a lot of confusion about where a coach should begin working.  I think this is where the coaching industry loses a little of its luster with clients.  The main question is, who determines where to start?  You might be thinking, “no, that’s not the question.  The question is, where to start.”  Let’s explore this for a second.

If you don’t do anything but type “business coaching” into your favorite search engine I can almost guarantee that you will see terms like; “proven system”, “structured plan”, “proven results using our tools”, “coaching programs that work”, and “using our templates.”  Now I am not saying that this is false advertising at all.  I am sure that there are many successes within those claims.  What I am saying is that it has been my experience with EVERY client I have worked with, they aren’t in need of a “program” or a “template”.  The most important need for them (and maybe you) is to start at the beginning!  So maybe a good thing to do is to offer an example of a couple possible conversations.

Here is how a conversation might go:

Client: ”We need more revenue.”

Coach: “That makes sense.  How do you find new customers?”

Client: ”We do a little advertising, but mostly word of mouth and referrals”

Coach: “How many new customers are you getting each month?”

Client: “We’re not really sure, we do know what the average customer is spending”

Coach: “Based on the average customer spending amount, how many new customers would you need to hit your revenue target?”

Client: “We don’t really have a revenue target clearly defined.”

Coach: “Got it!  So maybe our starting place isn’t revenue but the way to acquire new customers and the value and cost you should be expecting from new and existing ones.” 

The above was a real conversation.  You’ll notice, the client was very clear on the immediate need, but not as clear on where to start.  Imagine if that conversation went something like this:

Client: “We need more revenue.”

Coach: “That makes sense. We have a program that focuses on driving revenue from your online and social media channels as well as integrating your email list.”

Client“We don’t really have an online presence or focus on social media. Our email list isn’t well-managed at this point either.  We have done a couple of ads and relied on word of mouth and referrals mostly.”

Coach: ”Got it.  We have had clients that grew by 50% using our system.”

Client: “I’m not sure we need a system at this point.  What we really need is a plan to get more customers and assistance executing it.”

Coach: “I understand.  Let’s start with your online presence.”

The latter conversation is often what prospective clients hear.  That’s a good illustration of starting in the middle. 

For coaching to make a difference to you and your business it must begin where the opportunity exists, customized for the situations you are facing.  The person who decides the starting point is…YOU!  A coach that makes a difference is one who isn’t trying to overlay the situation with a set of pre-planned tactics.  Instead, they are utilizing knowledge and resources to customize plans and execute for the quickest and most impactful outcomes.  

When does Coaching End?                                                                      

I get this question a lot!  I always answer it the same way…”when you have completed the objectives you agreed to.” 

You may not be surprised that I hear this; “we don’t have formal objectives with our coach, we have a group of initiatives.”  After hearing something like that, I usually explain in that case, there is no way to determine how long coaching should continue.  That becomes a decision made between you and the coach. 

Coaching continues until you accomplish your goals successfully.  Coaching that goes on continuously and does not produce real results is simply a waste of time and money. 

Having checkpoints in the coaching relationship to assess the effectiveness of their work and the value it brings to you and the business, is a requirement.  Without a step like this, coaching can  cost more than needed and go on longer than required and produce minimal results. 

Did you get Value?

Making a difference and getting value are in some ways homonyms.  You wouldn’t think you could get value out of something that didn’t make a difference and vice versa.  Coaching is no different!

Books have been written about the value coaches deliver.  Accountability, focus, perspective, etc. are all very reasonable expectations.  I had a client that tell me that “progress” was their top value gained by working with me.  Now I am not going to prescribe the value every coach should deliver.  But I AM going to say that you should define what value YOU expect at the beginning of your relationship.  The simple point is if you don’t know what value you are expecting, how do you know you got it? 

I have worked with clients who had long relationships with coaches and when I asked them what they accomplished and what impact it had on their business their reply was unfortunate…”I can’t really tell you.” 

Knowing the value you want upfront will make your relationship easier to judge at the end!

Create your “Ideal Coach” profile

If you are looking for a coach and believe they should have an impact on your business, then it makes sense to know what characteristics make a good coach for you.  You might start with a profile.  Capture the top 10 characteristics that you would like to have in a coach. 

Below is a list of categories to think about.  This is not a comprehensive or “proven” list.  Think of this as an “idea” list to help you develop the criteria you use as you do your evaluation.  Some categories to consider include:

  • Experience
  • Industry Knowledge
  • Education
  • Coaching Method Approach
  • Tools Used
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Day to Day Involvement
  • Weekly Meeting Process
  • Personal Network
  • Activities to be Expected
  • Measurement and Metrics

Use this list as a guide for putting together your own profile.  Make sure to apply your profile to any coaches you may be hiring or use it to evaluate a coach you may be working with today!

Coaching can make a difference!  First, start by choosing the right coach based on an understanding of how they are going to help you achieve YOUR objectives.  Develop a profile of what your version of the “ideal coach” is.  Next, start at the beginning.  Start at the place your business needs focus.  Thirdly, pay attention to the impact the relationship is having on the business and don’t let it continue without a real return on investment for your company.  Finally, identify your value up front.  You can’t look for accountability without a target.  Define those targets crisply! 

A Coaches can affect the success of your company.  If you don’t have one today, let’s have a conversation.