As an entrepreneur, you'll mistakes, you'll get stuck, or you won't have all the answers you need. When faced with difficult situations, mile-long to-do lists, and an angry mob of stakeholders, you can’t be expected to be on top of everything at the same time. Fortunately, there are people that you can bring into your daily or weekly routine to help you on all these fronts. Who are these gifted God-sends? Coaches.
Coaching is an invaluable function in small business, whether it comes in the form of peer-to-peer coaching, employee coaching, or otherwise. But entrepreneurs often overlook the extreme benefits of finding their own coach from outside the company. Here are just some of the reasons why it’s important to have your own coach:
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to realize that a piece of your small business puzzle is missing. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Without a second pair of eyes on your business, you could be completely overlooking a facet of your business plan, a key point of information for your next decision, or conventional knowledge of a business function. Small business coaches can help fill in the gaps by pointing out these overlooked areas, and sending you down the right path to take action.
Everyone needs a little bit of accountability.
When you’re your own boss, who’s going to keep you to the deadlines you set? Small business coaches help you set SMART goals, and they have an obligation to check in and keep you on track. Say goodbye to procrastination and only ticking off the easier or more fun tasks. Now, you’ve got a coach that will hold you to goals and mundane tasks alike.
Not every mistake yields an obvious lesson.
It’s an entrepreneurial cliche that every failure is just a stepping stone towards success, but that logic comes from the now-successful business owners who have had time to reflect on exactly what each lesson was. In the aftermath of mistakes, it can be difficult to find out what went wrong and what to change moving forward. Coaches offer third-party perspectives on the situation, and they couple that with great questions that help you come to the right realizations much sooner.
Sometimes, you just get stuck.
Every small business owner hits a dead end at some point. Whether the issue is burnout, exhausted funds, or no new ideas on how to fix your product, it happens to us all. A coach’s role is to get you unstuck. Using a powerful tool belt of questions, business expertise, and critical thinking frameworks, they can help you think through your situation and move forward.
Ideas may not always come easily to you.
Entrepreneurs are pegged as idea machines, but not all of us are. Sometimes, you may not have an idea or enough ideas to move your business forward, and that’s normal. Use your coach as a sounding board and brainstorming tool, since ideas multiply when you’re speaking with other people. In every conversation with your coach, make sure you’re taking notes and highlighting the actionable ideas that you’ll take forward after the meeting.
Affirmation isn’t always a good thing. Be challenged.
Do your team, co-founders, friends, and family often build you up? When you’re surrounded by a group of people who already appreciate or admire you, it can be difficult to get critical feedback or corrections. Coaches don’t blindly admire you; they challenge you to be better.
Small business connections can change the course of your company.
Coaches are often well-connected business owners or business leaders in their communities, and they can use their deep insight into your company to make meaningful connections for you. Whether you’re seeking funding, marketing support, or any other partner, a coach is a great place to start for introductions.
Gain confidence in your own abilities.
Coaches are highly functional stakeholders in your business, but they’re also your biggest fan. With the support of a coach, your own business acumen and ability to address situations independently will improve. You’ll become a better business owner, and your business will become a success.
What to Consider When Choosing a Coach:
When looking for a coach, it’s important to make sure that they’re a good match for you. Here are a few of the things to consider when making your choice:
- What are some of the key areas you need support in?
- What kind of working relationship do you want with your coach?
- How often do you want to meet? Will you learn better if you’re able to meet in person?
- How do you want to be kept accountable?
- Does your coach need to be experienced in your industry?
- What kinds of connections would be great to have through your coach?
Treat the process of finding a coach like the process of finding a partner. You’ll need to find someone you can trust and lean on for support, so make sure you’re comfortable with your choice. However, don’t dismiss the great connections you have that are not going to become your official coach. Make sure you lean on each person in your network to support your business, challenge you, and grow together.