What Is a Business Coach?
A business coach helps executives transform and grow into effective leaders who build teams and, in turn, build better companies.
Business coaches can help companies of every size at every level. From C-suites responsible for hundreds of employees to startups with just the owner on payroll, I’ve had the privilege of helping executives grow as leaders in their role and in their industry.
Coaching vs. Consulting: What’s the Difference?
When people ask me, “What’s the difference between coaching and consulting?” I like to answer with this familiar proverb:
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
That’s the fundamental difference between coaching and consulting. A consultant focuses on solving the problem FOR the client. A coach helps the client develop into the kind of leader who can identify challenges and solve them on their own.
Business Coaches for Small Business
It’s a great myth that business coaching is too expensive for small businesses. I often have small business owners and leaders telling me they’re interested in business coaching, but they’re certain they could never afford it. Most of the time, this isn’t the case—they’ve just confused coaching with consulting.
It’s true that a high-priced consultant likely won’t be budget-friendly for a small company. However, coaching for small business leaders is not only affordable, but also provides tremendous value.
I’ve worked with single-person startups, scrappy teams of five, and growing teams of 10 to 20. Like other small business expenses, the question usually is not whether they can afford small business coaching, but whether they can afford NOT to.
5 Reasons to Hire a Business Coach for Your Small Business
It’s never too early to start investing in the intentional leadership development of yourself and your team. With a small business coach, you can:
1. Receive Constructive Criticism
It’s hard to maintain objectivity and a clear vision at work, especially if you are in a position of leadership. With a business coach, you have a pair of fresh eyes who can offer you constructive feedback on what’s working and what’s not, helping to identify blind spots.
2. Help Your Team Work More Efficiently
Too often, small business teams are built haphazardly. They remind me of the Burrow, the magical dwelling of the Weasley family from the Harry Potter series. The Burrow is a rickety multi-story structure with many rooms and levels, all added randomly over the years to accommodate a growing family. The house looks like it would simply fall apart, if not for the magic keeping it in place.
In many small businesses, new positions and employees are added as needed until the organizational structure ends up looking a lot like the Burrow. Although the existing structure might work for now, it’s not designed to run efficiently, and one small change could send the whole thing crashing to the ground.
A small business coach can help you look objectively at your team and organizational structure to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what could work better. With a business coach, you can ensure your team is not only efficient, but also strong enough to build upon—and you won’t have to rely on magic to make sure it doesn’t collapse.
3. Align, Set, and Achieve Business Goals
Strategic planning can be one of the greatest benefits of working with a business coach. A small business coach can help you gain perspective on where you are, so you can determine where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll know when you’ve arrived.
4. Achieve Overall Clarity Around Business Needs
It can be difficult as a business owner to determine what your company actually needs to measure. Many companies focus on metrics that aren’t aligned with their actual goals.
There’s plenty of data to sift through as a small business owner: number of leads, new clients, repeat clients, products sold, hours worked, etc. A small business coach can help you cut through the noise to determine the metrics that matter, so you can make decisions based on what your company actually needs in order to grow.
5. Gain Networking Opportunities
One of my favorite parts of being a business coach is meeting new people across a variety of industries. I love connecting clients who may be able to help one another meet their business objectives. The best part is that you join a network of like-minded companies who value leadership principles, invest in their team, and strive to be proactive and intentional.
Small Business Coaching Costs: What to Expect
Business coaching is often affordable for small businesses, especially when compared to more costly services like consulting. Consultants typically charge tens of thousands of dollars. Comparatively, effective business coaching can be accessed for less than $1,000 per month.
Can I Afford a Small Business Coach?
Every business coach has different rates. Your small business coach may offer their services in a variety of forms, including:
- Packages: Some business coaches offer packages guaranteeing a certain number of meetings or consultations over a period of time, such as a quarter or a year.
- Hourly: A business coach may offer their services based on an hourly rate.
- Monthly: A coach may structure their services as a monthly retainer, often related to a set number of meetings each month, plus some value added services.
Small Business Coaching Services
One of the joys of being a small business coach is the ability to wear multiple hats to serve the needs of a client. “Coach” is an umbrella term covering a wide variety of roles, including:
- Accountability partner: Your business coach can help you stay accountable to your goals and keep you on track toward success.
- Teacher: A good small business coach provides relevant education for the company they’re working with. In my work, I often educate businesses on frameworks like DiSC® or the Enneagram to help them better understand and work with their teammates.
- Sounding board: The job of a business coach is to listen and guide. A good coach serves as a sounding board and provides honest feedback, even if it may be difficult to hear.
- Strategic planning: Part of my services as a business coach involves StratOp, a strategic planning process designed to help get small businesses where they want to be. It’s delivered in a facilitated manner, much like coaching as described above.
Coaching for Small Business Owners
Business coaches typically work with executives as well as their leadership team. They may even work with the entire company as a whole. However, small business owners can choose to hire an executive coach just for themselves. This is the difference between team coaching and individual coaching.
Often, small business owners want to be better leaders. With individual coaching or executive coaching, they can work on issues such as communication, management, and time management. Hopefully, as small business owners work on these issues individually, they will apply what they’ve learned to their team as a whole.
With team coaching, not only are communication, management, and time management addressed, but larger issues are also tackled, such as strategy, operations, and the development of other leaders on the team. The small business owners will still benefit from this, but they may not receive the level of individual focus guaranteed by executive coaching. However, the advantage of team coaching is that the team interacts directly with the small business coach, learning leadership principles and effective business strategies firsthand.
Is Hiring a Small Business Coach Worth It?
Business coaching is highly valuable, especially for small businesses. With a business coach, you can expect to experience many benefits, including:
- Increased productivity
- Achievement of business goals
- Improved team communication
- Greater accountability
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do I Find a Small Business Coach?
It can be hard to find a business coach who’s a right fit for you and your business. Here’s the list of questions I encourage people to ask before they hire a coach:
- Has the coach actually run and grown a business successfully?
- Does the coach provide practical, usable guidance that is easy to learn and remember?
- Does the coach guide (vs. tell you what to do)?
- Is the coach more practical than theoretical?
- Does the coach help you develop a flexible framework for leading your business vs. locking you into a predefined system?
- Does the coach have a record of helping others achieve transformational, measurable results?
How Can I Tell If I Need a Small Business Coach?
I often meet people who are on the fence about hiring a business coach. My advice is to find someone you think you can trust, and ask them for a free session. If they provide one, you can test their effectiveness right then and there.
If you’re wondering if small business coaching is right for you, ask yourself:
- Do you want greater clarity in your business?
- Do you want more efficient processes and more effective workers?
- Do you want to know where your business is headed and how to get there?
If you answered yes to any of these, small business coaching can help.
Want to learn more about small business coaching? I’m happy to provide more information. I’ve helped small businesses and startups strategize for their future and grow their business. Reach out, and we can schedule a chat to help you get where you want to go.