With the rise of solopreneurship and remote work, you might find yourself feeling stuck or uncertain about the next steps to take to move your business forward. A business coach or mentor can unblock you and remove gaps in your skillset. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the role of a business coach, the benefits of hiring one, and how to identify your coaching needs and choose the right coach for you.
What can you expect when you work with a business coach?
Many business coaches focus exclusively on mindset. A great best business coach goes beyond that and solves problems specifically in your kind of business. That's why you want an industry-specific business coach.
For example, if you run an agency, find someone who has actually done that previously. You don't want generic insight from someone who has run SaaS businesses, got rich off of courses, or even mostly focused on building agencies versus having their own in the past.
A business coach is someone who helps solopreneurs, business owners, and leaders improve their performance by providing guidance, support, and accountability. They work one-on-one with their clients to identify areas for improvement, develop action plans, and monitor progress.
A business coach also helps their clients to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to develop strategies to overcome any obstacles that may be preventing them from achieving success. They help their clients to set goals and to develop a plan of action to achieve those goals, and they provide ongoing support and accountability to ensure that their clients stay on track.
What are the main expectations?
Business coaching for solopreneurs and founders is about overcoming the roadblocks that may be preventing them from achieving their goals. It involves asking questions, challenging assumptions, and providing feedback in a way that is constructive and geared towards growth.
Business coaching is not just about providing advice or telling clients what to do. It's about working collaboratively with clients to help them identify their goals and develop a plan of action to achieve those goals. It's about providing support and guidance along the way, and holding clients accountable for their actions and progress.
Improved Decision-Making Skills
A business coach can help you approach decision-making in a more strategic and thoughtful way, weighing pros and cons and considering all available options before making a final choice. The goal is not to have to work with business coach forever but rather equipping you with new ways to approach problems in your business.
For example, let's say you are trying to decide whether to make a first hire or expand into a new capability. Your coach may show you ways to grow without hiring, assess metrics before expanding headcount, or tackling new markets. By taking a more structured approach to decision-making, you can feel more confident in your choices and avoid costly mistakes.
Increased Accountability and Focus
Working with a coach provides a level of accountability that can help you stay focused on your goals and ensure that you're taking actionable steps towards achieving them. When I do business coaching with solopreneurs and agency owners, I track our work against our shared 12-week roadmap. I nudge them and double back on key areas need completion.
For instance, if one of your goals is to increase sales by 20% in the next quarter, your coach may help you break down this goal into smaller, more manageable steps such as identifying Lighthouse Clients and building out scalable offers. They can then hold you accountable for taking these steps by regularly checking in on your progress and providing feedback and support.
Creating Predictable Business Growth
Many businesses grow by word of mouth or referral only, which means they go through seasons of feast and famine. To prevent that from happening, a business coach should assess your business around marketing, sales, operations, and delivery to help create more predictable business growth.
Systems are especially important to create repeatable growth. Your business coach will focus on systems in sales if you have great top of funnel but not enough deals closing. Or your business coach might need to focus on operations and client delivery if you're closing deals by churning clients or not growing revenue in those accounts. These changes are the difference between a freelancer mindset and scaled business mentality.
Better Work-Life Balance
By helping you prioritize your time and focus on what's truly important, a business coach can help you achieve a better balance between your work and personal life.
For instance, if you're feeling overwhelmed by your workload, your coach may help you identify areas where you can delegate tasks or streamline your processes to succeed as a one-person business or solo founder. They may also help you set boundaries and establish routines that allow you to recharge and maintain your well-being.
Overall, working with a business coach can provide you with the guidance, support, and accountability you need to achieve your goals and take your business to the next level.
What should your business coach expect from you?
Get better results from a business coach with these considerations.
Assessment of Your Current Situation
Start by sharing clearly where your business is at currently, and where you would like it to be in the next year or two. This will help your business coach identify areas where you may need support and guidance.
For example, if you're struggling to increase your revenue or expand your customer base, you may need help with sales and scaling strategies. Alternatively, if you're having trouble managing your team or delegating tasks, you may need support with leadership and management skills.
It's also important to consider external factors that may be impacting your business, such as changes in the market or increased competition.
Recognizing Your Strengths and Weaknesses
It's important you share an honest look at your own strengths and weaknesses as a business owner, so that you can focus on improving in areas where you may be struggling.
Your coach can help you identify areas where you excel, as well as areas where you may need to improve. Give them a jumpstart though by what you've seen or heard in your business experience. For example, if you're a strong communicator but struggle with time management, your coach can provide guidance on how to better manage your schedule and prioritize tasks.
Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses is key to personal and professional growth, and can help you become a more effective entrepreneur.
Follow Through in Goals and Objectives
Once you've identified the areas where you need support, work with your coach to set clear, measurable goals that align with your overall business objectives.
For example, if your goal is to grow revenue without increasing headcount, your coach can help you develop a plan to achieve that goal. This may involve creating more scalable offers, improving your close rate, or streamlining your operations to reduce costs.
Setting clear goals and objectives will help you stay focused and motivated, and will also provide a way to measure your progress over time.
The problems with most business coaches
It can seem like you can bump into a business coach when grabbing a coffee today. So be careful. As mentioned earlier, you want to find a business coach who has more specific industry knowledge. One better though? Find a coach who was once a player.
As an example, I ran and scaled my own agency before offering business coaching services. So I know what it looks like to build from zero to seven figures and later go through an exit. If a coach has primarily always been a coach or has been "out of the game" too long, you're going to be using strategies from years or decades ago.
The other problem with most business coaches is overly fluffy approaches that don't drive results. Yes, you want to focus on mentality and sometimes even let a client vent. But the best way to help clients as a business coach is to resolve areas of concern, which are typically around increasing revenue, handling more clients, or getting them out of the day-to-day operations of the business.
How often should you meet with a business coach?
A good business coach will provide you a regular cadence of meeting. A better business coach will not need to meet with you face-to-face to help you.
Typically with my clients, for example, we start with at least weekly sessions until we've got momentum. We can then move to a bi-monthly cadence with them getting access to me on-demand through voice or video messages. When you know what you're doing, there's no need to jump on calls or meet in person to solve problems or provide suggestions. Of course, a business coach that cares for their clients will offer ways to meet more urgently when required.
How to prepare for a business coaching session?
Make your sessions more effective with your business coach by sharing progress you've made and other context ahead of sessions. I do that with my clients using a private, shared virtual space. For clients that prefer interactive ways to share context without meetings, they can use their tools of choice, such as Loom videos and LinkedIn audio DMs.
Remember, while a great business coach will have a program, these sessions and time are for you. Coaches are happy to go off script to help solve more immediately or pressing issues.
Explore Business Coaching Options
I offer a variety of 1:1 options to meet you where you are.
Business Coaching vs Fractional COO
If you want more tactical help beyond business coaching, you may want to consider hiring a fractional executive. Fractional COO rates are going to typically be higher than business coaches but will add more firepower tactically.
When I work with entrepreneurs as a Fractional COO, we can not only talk about strategies but go get them done as well. Fractional COO also immerse themselves deeper in the business to build systems, playbooks, and processes across marketing, sales, operations, delivery, and more.
Whether it's fractional, business coaching, or even finding an expert community of peers, filling in gaps you don't have is critical. In my own experience growing well into the seven figures and beyond, these approaches will shortcut you years of failure and frustration.