What Is Executive Coaching?
Recently, I spoke to an executive at a prospective client who contacted me because he claimed to be in a rut. “I know what to do,” he said, “I’m just having trouble getting it done.” The conversation progressed as I kept asking questions. At one point he repeated, “I know what to do…”, then he added, “…and I don’t think I need a consultant telling me to do a bunch of new things.”
Whether he knew it or not, he was identifying the difference between a consultant and a coach. Consultants solve your problems for you. Coaches help you solve your own problems. An executive coach is someone who helps executives solve their own problems. But don’t let the word “executive” limit your thinking. Anyone who holds a leadership or management role can benefit from executive business coaching.
Is Business Coaching for Startups a Worthwhile Investment?
In some ways, that’s like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” Like anything in this world, there are many factors that will help determine if an investment yields the proper return.
Specifically for startups, it seems that the growth of startup accelerators is indication that investing in startups does indeed yield a positive return. For the lone entrepreneur who is considering executive coaching services, the question can really be answered by determining the ROI: If I pay $X for a coach, can I tie results from that coach’s input to increased revenue, profitability, etc., and will I receive a multiple on that investment?
Why You Need a Startup Coach
There are several reasons why a startup entrepreneur might benefit from executive coaching services. An executive coach can help you to:
- Keep looking objectively at your business idea: My father, a marketing consultant, often says that the worst thing a businessperson can do is fall in love with their own ideas. The best coaches are great at asking questions that expose the truth, even if that truth is not necessarily what the business leader wants to hear. Staying objective can help a business startup avoid pain and mistakes.
- Build a plan: No offense to most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met, but their approach is often “Fire, Ready, Aim.” Sound executive business coaching can help the entrepreneur develop a plan, launch the plan, and stick to the plan. As Tom Paterson once said, “If you plan the work, then work the plan, your plan will work.”
- Get the right people in the right seats: As much as fun as it may seem to build a company with family and friends, sometimes an outside view on team building is a must. An executive or entrepreneur coach can leverage an outside, third party perspective to build a complementary, cohesive team.
- Secure funding: You’ve heard it before—you gotta spend money to make money. But to spend money, you have to HAVE money. An executive coach, especially one with startup experience, can serve as a guide on how to identify and secure funding for the new venture.
- Launch the business: My wife often told our kids, “It doesn’t matter what you know, it only matters what you DO with what you know.” Implementation is everything. The example I gave at the beginning of this article is a perfect example of what we’re talking about here—how executive business coaching can serve as an accountability mechanism for making sure things get done.
Benefits of Executive Coaching
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times from my clients: “It’s so valuable to have someone like you that I can bounce ideas off of.” This is a key benefit of having a coach: an outside advisor that hears, supports, and challenges.
For many entrepreneurs, the skills needed to effectively run a business are those they haven’t yet learned. Finance, managing people, overseeing supply chain… these and others can be brand new. As the startup leader, entrepreneurs often find themselves having to answer all sorts of questions, and they often don’t know the answers. An experienced business coach (one who has successfully run businesses before) can be a safe place to call and lean on when these pressures come about.
Time Management Skills
Having an outside voice asking, “Why are you doing that?” can be a tremendous asset. Starting a new venture takes a lot of time—often because much time is spent on activity that’s just not necessarily. An executive business coach can help a new business owner develop proper time management skills, in both the short and long term. Predictable patterns, healthy schedule, work-life balance—a coach can help with these. Better that than the 80 hours a week that often leads to burnout.
Plan of Action
As I stated earlier, having a plan and sticking to it will increase the chances for success. I love asking:
- “Where are you now?”
- “Where are you heading?”
- “How will you get there?”
Just by answering those questions, a coach can help the startup leader frame out a roadmap for success.
One of the side benefits that can come from launching a business is the chance to discover how you are wired. Pressure reveals the stress cracks and also identifies the strong points. This will be extremely valuable as you look to build the company into the long term. If you don’t know who you are, what your strengths are, how your motivated, etc., it will be hard for you to effectively lead others.
Strength in Leadership
Just because one is starting a business doesn’t mean they are a leader. A leader is someone who has people following them. Perhaps this one area, more than any other, is the biggest benefit to having an executive coach. Dave Stachowiak of Coaching for Leaders begins everyone of his podcasts by saying, “Leaders aren’t born, they’re made.” If you want to be made into a leader, having a coach is a great way to get there.
Get Started with Jay Hidalgo Executive Coaching Services
I’d be happy to have a conversation with any startup leader about their business, no strings attached. Perhaps a 20–30 minute conversation will provide you some encouragement. If you’d like to do so, feel free to contact me.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Executive Coaching Cost?
There is a range of fees, all depending on scope and frequency of meeting. Contact me and we can discuss your specific needs.
How Often Will Executive Business Coaching Meetings Occur?
This too depends on the need of the client. Meetings can occur weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly.
What Qualities Should I Look for in an Executive Business Coach?
There are many factors to consider when searching for an executive business coach. Ideally, you’re looking for a mix of strong character qualities, proven experience, and positive reviews from past clients.