My Beliefs About Business Coaching
During my study and training for my master’s degree in Coaching and Development I was tutored by some Olympic level sports coaches. They brought their sporting success to the world of business.
Why’s this relevant? Well, let me explain the sporting origins of business coaching.
The teaching of sports was tackled in the 1970s by Harvard educationalist and tennis expert Timothy Gallwey when he threw down the gauntlet with a book entitled The Inner Game of Tennis. The word ‘inner’ was used to indicate the players internal state or, to use Gallwey’s word, ‘the opponent within one’s head is more formidable than the one on the other side of the net.
Gallwey had put his finger on the essence of coaching. Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.
This was not new: Socrates had voiced the same things some 2000 years earlier.
Socrates had the idea that we don’t actually teach something to someone, what we do is help them figure it out for themselves.
Some people take the view that the whole idea of the Socratic Method and helping a client work out an answer that’s right for themselves is a bit soft and fluffy.
For sure, one part of that I do agree with is that if it comes down to using a particular system, tool or strategy and that’s new to the business owner, then yeah, you kind of operate in the mode of a consultant or you offer a tool or some kind of strategy that is going to help that business owner. But at the end of the day, whether the business owner decides to take that tool forward or use that or implement that strategy is up to the owner and the role of a coach then is to help them figure out that answer based on their values, their goals and what they deem right for them.
A business coach is an ultimate guide to get your business to where it is supporting your life. A business coach is not there to tell you what to do. They are not there to run your business. They are someone who comes into your life to help you get your business to a place where it is supporting you, not the other way around.
When you hire a business coach you are hiring a guide; someone to be a sounding board for your problems, point you in the right direction, provide clarity, and keep you accountable. A good business coach teaches you how to see the possibilities and opportunities that don’t come to you naturally by asking questions and skillfully prompting you to think critically about situations.
A business coach does not ‘give you a fish’, but rather ‘teaches you to fish for yourself’.
A business coach should be someone who has had experience and has even worked through some challenging circumstances such as economic downturns or personal hardships. The key element is that they have built the skills and knowledge necessary to guide you through the problems that you face in your own business and teach you how to handle future situations.
This happens through the three dimensions of business coaching:
First, Business development – working through setting up the systems, tools, and strategies for growth.
Second, Personal development – developing the mindset and skills of the owner in leadership, delegation, and communication.
And third, Performance Accountability – ensuring that you do what you say you are going to do.
You are undoubtedly talented in your chosen profession, yet your passion, your talent, and your drive can only get you so far. Whether you are in the services industry, manufacturing, technology, real estate, entertainment, or whatever, the concept of a successful business is the same. And regardless of industry, a unifying characteristic of people who get into business for themselves is having massive motivation.
At the same time, the unifying characteristic of business owners who never reach the point where they are able to live independently from their business is a lack of business education.
What enables you to become a business owner who enjoys their own time and their own money is understanding the fundamentals of how to run a business. A business coach gives you that education and in doing so enables you to move forward on your own.
The right business coach for you is your harshest critic and your greatest champion at the same time.
You are the most unique part of your business. The systems, tools, and processes that make up a successful business are, at their core, the same across different sizes of businesses and different industries. You do not need to find someone who has specialized in your niche in order to have a great guide to help you work through the problems, fear, and frustrations that you experience.
Find a business coach who has proven time and time again that their methods, their framework, their procedures all work. Read testimonials, ask questions, and do your research.
What you need to be prepared to bring to the relationship is motivation and a willingness to do the work. And the work isn’t tasked out to you by your business coach, it is driven by conversations, questions, and thinking critically about your business.
Plain and simple, if you aren’t willing to be pushed, be asked the tough questions, look internally, and make changes then you may not be ready for business coaching. But that also means that you aren’t ready to bring your business to a place where you get to live the life you want.
So do you have an idea of what that future life looks like for you. Is it more money? More time? More ventures that branch out of your initial business? Not everybody wants to sit on a beach and sip cocktails until the sun goes down day after day, and that’s ok. The right business coach will help you realize your freedom, whatever that looks like.