Wise kings need advisors. So do business owners who want to be on the fast track. Business coaches can help you meet your projected sales goals, create strategic marketing plans, develop leadership skills and better manage your time. Good coaching comes in many forms, some costly some free, depending on what you need and what stage of development your business is in.
Look for a qualified small business coach by:
- Contacting trade associations
- Asking fellow business owners for referrals
- Checking out your local Chamber of Commerce
- Going to the Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE).
Check coach credentialsYour coach should have the background you seek. For example, if you want to build a fast-growing startup, make sure your coach has done that. Look for a proven track record. Then check at least three references. And don't forget that personal chemistry is critical, since you'll be working closely together.
Set overall goalsWhat expertise do you need? By writing down the goals and objectives you want to master-increasing profitability is one-you can narrow your choices for a coach. Some have specialties, such as honing leadership skills, buttoning down finances, improving marketing or getting a startup off the ground.
Take it slow and measure successStart with small projects, such as tweaking marketing letters. Then have a benchmark-oriented conversation after a few months about how the process is going. Look for results within four sessions, or find another coach. Constantly re-set benchmarks as soon as you achieve them. Coaches should measure your progress using hard numbers such as ROI. Use a contract that sets out how often you'll talk and how often you'll measure results.
Good coaches make themselves obsoleteAlong the way, you'll be adding tools that you can take with you. Don't be afraid to end the coaching relationship once you feel ready to stand on your own. For short-term projects, set specific time goals, such as three months.
- Choose a coach who is certified.
- Beware of charismatic gurus who emphasize personality over process.
- Ask your coach to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
- Good coaches offer money-back guarantees if you don't reach performance or ROI targets.