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Business Coach 101: When You Need One and How to Find One

Being a business owner can be exhausting, challenging, and overwhelming. There’s always something more to do, learn, and achieve. You’re typically on call 24/7 and expected to make critical decisions at the drop of a hat. Stress tends to be a constant companion — especially for small business owners, reports Gallup.

If you can relate to some or all of the above, then you may need an experienced mentor figure to whom you could turn for business-related assistance. This would be someone who could help you make key decisions, offer targeted advice, and help you navigate through choppy waters. Enter the business coach.  

In this guide, we give you the lowdown on business coaches. 

Signs indicating you’re in dire need of a business coach 

You typically hire a personal trainer when you want to be fitter and healthier but need help getting there. Similarly, you go to a business coach when you think your company needs a tune-up or needs to achieve some business-related goals. Here are some surefire signs it’s time to find a business coach: 

1. Being overwhelmed 

Being a business owner can be incredibly challenging. You have to be responsible for many things, from finance to quality. You do all this while fending off fierce competition and juggling personal obligations. Regardless of how good or experienced you are, it can all be a bit much. 

A business coach can help you to simplify your business life and make it all more manageable. They can help you plan out a schedule, offer relevant goals with achievable steps, and generally help you to stay afloat with advice. They give you guidance on how best to move forward without burning out. 

2. Developing new skills 

No entrepreneur has all the soft skills they need right from the get-go (even if they attended business school). You’re required to pick up new skills along the way as well as hone the skills you currently possess. Some examples of skills you may need are delegation, time management, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication. Many business coaches specialize in teaching a particular set of skills based on their experiences, such as leadership skills and communication skills.   

3. Feeling stuck or demotivated  

Entrepreneurs commonly hit a wall with their work or business. They may experience a series of poor results or setbacks which cause them to lose motivation. They end up feeling stuck or not knowing how best to move forward to achieve their desired results. 

A good business coach can help you climb out of the hole you may have found yourself in. A good coach will offer clear, practical steps you could take in your particular scenario. You’ll feel motivated again when you’re moving forward. Keep in mind, though, that business coaches aren’t therapists. They offer business-related assistance, not personal life advice. 

4. Help with business-related technicalities 

Every business is made up of a series of technical processes. Some examples are product development, manufacturing, sales, and customer care. You need experience as well as technical or “hard” skills to develop efficient, effective processes. New entrepreneurs don’t always have the know-how yet to make their processes efficient. 

A good business coach can help you get the technical details right. They can help you devise efficient workflows, teach you sales strategies and effective management techniques, advise you on the best software to choose, and much more.

For example, if you’re curious about registering your business as a Pennsylvania S corporation so you can save on self-employment taxes and earn tax deductions on financial losses, a business coach may have some practical experience in the matter to aid your decision. If they don’t have any experience, you may look to this how to start a business with ZenBusiness guide for more information. They can even assist you with filing the requisite paperwork for an S corporation, and they can also make the process less costly than if you worked with a business attorney.

5. Practical assistance with career or business growth

When you’re growing or restructuring your business, you may need someone to run ideas by. An external figure would be best. They could help keep you on track. You could confide details about your business without worrying about politics. They can best teach you how to approach new investors, clients, or employers. 

Do I need a business consultant or a business coach?

As you may have noticed, some of the work business coaches do overlaps with the work business consultants do. There is one key difference, though: Business coaches are different from business consultants, as Emyth can confirm, in that they teach you how to solve a problem as opposed to solving the problem for you. 

That means you should go to a business consultant when you want a specific business problem solved. You go to a business coach when you want to figure out how to solve the problem yourself. The business coach will mentor you and help you develop the skills you need to independently solve the problem in the future. Sometimes it makes business sense to use a consultant – especially when it’s a one-off problem you won’t be encountering in the future. Hiring a business coach is investing in yourself.  

Finding the right business coach 

On paper, a business coach seems to be the answer to all your problems. The reality may be different, though. There are bad coaches out there who may be more trouble than they’re worth. Do your homework and double check before you settle on a business coach. Here are some suggestions: 

1. Find coaches online or through referrals   

Don’t settle on the first coach you find. It’s a good idea to scout out a few. Create a list of potential coaches to give yourself plenty of options, and then eliminate the ones who don’t meet your criteria. You can find suitable coaches online, through ads in the paper, and via direct referrals from family or friends. 

2. Look at their background 

Next, look closely at their background. Ideally, you want someone who has real-world, practical experience of working or running a business in your niche. Additionally, you also want someone who has practical coaching experience. But just because they have the skills doesn’t make someone a good teacher. Look for success stories, and ask for a free initial consultation. 

3. Do your personalities mesh?

You will be working closely with your coach for the foreseeable future. Ideally, you want to be able to get along well with them. How well do you communicate with your coach? Do you share the same values, or do your personalities clash? If they can’t communicate well with you, keep looking. 

4. Ask for the ‘curriculum’ 

After an initial meeting or two, good coaches will be able to identify where and how they can help you. It’s a good idea to question them about the work they hope to do with you. Can you get on board with their plans? Do you like their way of thinking? Do you believe their solutions are practical and that you can derive value from them?  

5. Be prepared to learn 

Remember that you’re hiring coaches and mentors — ultimately, you have to be willing to follow their directions and do the actual work involved yourself. Their advice may be painful or emotionally challenging. They may tear down your business model, for example, and then ask you to rebuild it into a more workable, efficient one. It may be a challenge. Before seeking out a teacher, make sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared for the lessons. 

Business coaches offer solid advice, give you a push in the right direction, and help you to grow your business. With the right mindset, getting a good coach will take you far.

The TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce will put you in touch with local advocates and resources that will help you take your business to new levels of success. Join us today!

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TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce

152 East High Street, Suite 200
Pottstown, PA 19464

Phone: 610.326.2900