For Small Businesses Owners, Finding the Right Business Coach Requires Asking the Right Questions

If you find yourself struggling to achieve results, feeling overwhelmed, and/or consistently losing track of time and money, you may want to consider hiring a business coach who can provide insightful feedback and navigate you on the right path in your career.

No one has the answers to everything. And even those who are on the road to CEO recognize the value of business coach. Bob Nardelli, former CEO of Home Depot, had this to say about coaching…

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”

Demand for business coaching nearly doubles every year. Forbes reported $2 billion is spent annually on executive coaching in Fortune 500 companies. Tanya Clemens, VP of Global Executive and Organizational Development at IBM, said her team had found from years of research that the leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.

As the former leader of my own tech business, with twenty years in the industry, I can agree that the advice from my mentor had a direct correlation with the success of my career. I would not be where I am today if I did not invest in leadership training.

What business coaching taught me was that without feedback from peers, “absolute certainty” became harmful to productivity. It stifles your willingness to move forward, and affects not only you but those around you. Life is about connection and continuous learning. This is something I now whole-heartedly believe in, thanks through the help of coaches and mentors.

When’s the Best Time to Hire a Business Coach

A Business Coach can be valuable at every stage of your career. If you are a just beginning a business, a coach can:

  • Review your business plan and provide guidance.
  • Ask questions that stimulate objective thinking.
  • Implement strategy and focus.

If you feel stagnant at your job and unable to climb the corporate ladder, a coach can:

  • Find what’s holding you back.
  • Define goals and create next steps
  • Become a confident and personal advisor

If you are in a state of transition, or planning to retire, a coach can:

  • Advise on a continued legacy.
  • Define what success means to you.
  • Suggest new opportunities and networks.

How to Choose the Right Business Coach That Meets Your Needs

Forbes Magazine published a set of 14 questions to ask your business coach, including questions such as:

  • How can you help me?
  • How do you define success?
  • How would you handle telling me I’m wrong?
  • How will you know I’m the right client for you?

However, one question that small business owners fail to ask, and impedes directly towards their progress is…

“Have you owned a business and for how long?”

There are an infinite number of small business coaches saturating the market who have never owned, run or built a business prior to the coaching business they were promoting. They may have a certificate that says there are qualified to coach, but if they do not have the background to back their perspective, that could cause complications long-term.

Another question worth asking is…

“Have you worked in my industry or with people in my industry?”

Some have worked at high levels of companies that have no doubt provided them some relevant understanding and knowledge to industry standards.

But how can you coach small businesses if you’ve never sat in the chair of owning or running a small business yourself? How can you accurately relate to the small business entrepreneur who has employees to support, overhead to cover, who wants to grow and expand their offering all while working to ensure that the doors stay open tomorrow, and the day after that? Where would you get a frame of reference if you’ve never been there yourself?  

Same thing for coaching solo-preneurs. How can you effectively connect the dots if you’ve only worked with bigger companies or brands? Getting a pay check is a very different matter than ensuring you’re making the right choices to pay yourself. How do you truly understand that pivot?

So back to the original question. What should you think about when hiring a business coach?

The Number One Rule When Hiring a Business Coach

The number one rule when hiring a business coach is that your coach should have walked the walk, owned a business, and can speak to real-life experiences.

Ideally, the coach you choose will have failed and succeeded – more than once – and won’t be afraid to be honest and share the wisdom of those lessons learned. The best coaches are authentic and radically transparent.

Make sure to take the time to find out what exactly they’ve accomplished. Ask if they have built, bought or sold a business. Confirm that they’ll understand what keeps you up at night. Reinforce that they understand business growth and how to achieve it.  Do they understand change management? Do they understand business development strategy, networking and business planning?

An effective coach will listen to your concerns, give you an honest assessment of your weaknesses, and help you leverage your strengths to maximize opportunities to help you and your business grow.  

But the best kind of coach has context. And by context, I mean they have experience doing what you do.

For a FREE 30-minute coaching conversation with Glorie Averbach or Betty Hasker, click here to set up a phone or video call appointment.

Learn more from Glorie and Betty

Watch Betty And Glorie Explain Why A Business Coach Is Essential To Your Success.

Discover What The One Mistake Is That Business Owners Make.

What Do New Entrepreneurs Need To Hear?