How do you pick the right small business coach for you?

There are a lot of jokes about small business coaches on the internet. They range from talking about the most broke people on Twitter being the business coaches (oh the irony!) through to how business coaching always works out well…for the small business coach.

Business coaching is a lot like therapy. You have to want to change. You also have to work out who is the right person to help you with that change. It is by no means a one-size-fits-all process.

Here’s a rough guide to assessing a small business coach and whether business coaching is for you

Matching an apple to an apple farmer

Not all coaches fit into what you need. It’s about tailoring what you are looking to do with the person who fits best. That means looking beyond their shiny testimonials and seeing where their core competencies lie. It also means looking at the kinds of things they’ve done for their business, what they are passionate about and how you feel about their content marketing efforts.

Your attitudes need to match. There’s no point in Polly Practical having a small business coach who covers things in unicorns, kisses and brush-tip strokes. Look for someone who knows the challenges and can relate to your experience.

Longevity of relationship  

Are you facing a difficulty now or are you looking for someone to keep you accountable for the long term? The difference between short term and long-term business coaching relationships matter. You have to decide if you want the plumber to unclog the blockage or if you need a new system, basically.

There’s no point in making a massive program commitment if you have a specific itch.

In the moment versus afterglow

Also, be aware that while we’re in the thrall of change, it can feel romantic and wonderful. We can be high the idea of change and confuse this with the relationship we’ve built with the small business coach.

That doesn’t mean it will last. All things new tend to fade.

A lot of coaches out there feel fantastic while it’s happening, only for it all to wear off pretty soon after the coaching finishes. It’s usually because they are introducing new ideas and new processes without addressing root causes of discomfort and the issues associated with what you need the most.

Often too, if the root cause isn’t addressed, it leads to you feeling worse in the long term due to overwhelm.

This is where due diligence and ensuring your goals align counts.

Price is not a determining factor

If you blanch at some business coaching programs being priced higher than psychiatrists and recovery retreats, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of talk inside and out of the industry about higher than accessible pricing.

Here’s the kicker too, price doesn’t indicate credentials.

Business coaching is not regulated in Australia. There is no award rate. It is not an indication of quality.

Any work that is worthwhile is worth the investment. You have to do your due diligence though and ask the hard questions- and be satisfied with the answers.

Don’t fall into the trap of choosing a small business coach because they present as wealthy and charge prices to match.

Choose them because they understand how to improve your circumstances instead.

Bespoke versus collegiate coaching

Group coaching programs and individual coaching plans are worthwhile. They are also not the whole ballgame.

You have to be a little smart about things. Some small business coaches have an agenda when they begin seeing you- and that is to continue seeing you right through the whole range of their products. I am not convinced anyone who is meant to work with you to untangle your head in any manner should have that.

For example, working with you to upsell to their next shiny thing, coming prepared with a format that is X + You = Landing Here. It doesn’t allow for the movement you need necessarily.

Everyone’s challenges are different. Getting someone who knows your challenges well or where you aspire to be is better than a generalist trying to fill in space. Or working a program because it’s easier on the small business coach.

Is it business coaching or is it therapy?

One of the thing that honks my horn as a small business coach is when the coach in question doesn’t recognise the limitations to what business coaching can be applied to.

Mental health support, counselling and psychological services still battle stigma. This creates issues because business coaching doesn’t share the same problem. When people are in crisis or other situations that clearly need counselling or stress support or even mental health interventions reach out to a business coach, it can be problematic.

It’s most definitely problematic if the business coach in question cannot spot the warning signs, has no referral network for mental health services, or carries a healthy dose of stigma towards people with mental health conditions.

If we don’t know how to detect, defer to or understand stress or mental health issues, we’re placing our clients at serious risk.

With 45% of people in Australia facing a mental health crisis in their lifetime and business owners being in a high-risk category group for these kinds of issues, it’s important to determine the help you need.

Business coaches should (in my opinion) operate from a perspective of immediately assessing people that require mental health support and referring to the right support. The problem with this is many small business coaches are not trained to pick up on crisis signals, suicidality and mental health first aid.

There has to be a better way to manage this. Incidentally, it’s why I have undertaken training in ASIST suicidal intervention, hold a mental health first aid certificate and am undertaking training as a counsellor. I want to make sure I can spot the issues and refer you to support as needed.

Too early for your business coaching journey 

Be aware that taking on a small business coach too soon in your process can also create its own problems.

You may lose vision for their suggestions, you may trick yourself into thinking talking about the idea is progress etc. This comes down to how cooked is your idea so far and what are the specific pain points?

Make sure you take time to define, develop and get closed to your idea. The only way you can protect it from someone else’s muddy paws and half cooked ideas is to know (sort of) where you want to land. While a business coaching relationship may be good for snuffling out the issues, if they don’t share the same vision as you, you might end up doing a lot of work in the wrong direction.

Your attitude matters

There’s a saying – “the only person who likes change is a wet baby”.

Business coaching is not a magic cure-all. Turning up for sessions and expecting a magical transformation without expending any effort is not going to get you where you need to be.,

You have to commit. There will be hard conversations. There will be homework. You will need to work on your output and come prepared with more than excuses.

Also, you have to attend it like you do classes. You won’t learn how to run that marathon or perform that surgery if you don’t.

Business coaching can be weird as it digs up all manner of weird issues and disturbs us in ways we didn’t think possible. Yet that self-reflection is vital to making the work matter.

A small business coach can always spot someone in crisis and/or has over-committed by noticing payments get late, sessions get moved, homework doesn’t get done and barriers come up.

Get a business coach where that doesn’t happen- or work on yourself until you are ready for the process. Resistance to a coach you’re inviting to work with you only has a negative impact on you. Your business coach has seen it all before and can help you change your thinking- only if you allow it.

Spotting your business coaching right fit

In all things, coaching should be about making progress. You do have to go with an idea of what progress might be. That can be positive or negative. E.g. “I want to learn this bit I am not sure of from someone I know has been through it” or “I cannot work out how to unblock this bit and need an external perspective…”

It’s also about the right fit.

Want to hire a small business coach that will help you? Get in touch now.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Select someone who has experience, both as a coach and as a small business owner. How long have they been a small business coach or consultant? How long have they been a small business owner? How many businesses have they owned in the past? How many clients have they worked with and in how many industries? Look for someone with a wide breadth of experience so you know they can handle your unique situation.


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