Business Coaching: My Guide When I Can't See (Part II)

Mar 10, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

In the Spring of 2009, I had a wonderful change in life, my daughter started driving.  This meant she could bring her siblings home from school and to their after school activities.   In my business this added at least 3 extra working hours to each day.  Since I don’t want to work that many more hours, it really added the flexibility to move my schedule around to accommodate a different business model.  I could schedule late appointments.  I had time to write.  I could do groups at a time when other people would be available.  I felt that the first step for me to changing my business model was to begin leveraging the internet to grow my business.

How Coaching is Helping Me to Change my Business Model

Needless to say I spent almost a year reading everything I could about internet marketing.  I implemented some things on my own and directionally moved towards my vision.  Then I hired coaches that could hold my hand and lead my blindfolded self through this crossroad.  Yes, I aggravate them by sending them some words of wisdom from another expert on occasion.  In yesterday’s introductory post on coaching I advised to pick one expert and follow them – oops! I still read and educate myself because a coach is a partner, not a replacement.  I am still responsible for my business.  But I chose coaches that I felt did have knowledge in excess of mine, that were more focused on specific aspects of my business that I needed help, rather than for planning, accountability and encouragement.  They understand my Christian worldview and are helping me build my business on a foundation of faith, rather than just providing worldly business tactics.  So to really help me, I feel like a coach needs to:

  1. Have expertise and experience in achieving the goals I am trying to accomplish.
  2. Have a similar style – for me it is providing deep content and value versus just marketing and buzz.
  3. Support my worldview and values – we all have a worldview and it is like a compass, if my coach isn’t working off the same compass then we are likely heading in different directions.  It won’t work.
  4. Be vested in my vision.  If they don’t care enough to truly understand the vision of CrossRoads and care about the outcome of my business, then I don’t have a coach, I just have a vendor.

How Can I Most Effectively Utilize a Business Coach?

I have to say that I hate to waste money.  Being unprepared to effectively use services I purchase is kind of stupid don’t you think.  I was surprised when I read or heard a coach say that they offered extra bonuses because most of the time clients didn’t take them up on the bonus anyway.  I don’t really understand either side of it, but I do know that it takes effort on our part to effectively utilize a business coach.  Here are some guidelines to effectively using a coach:

RULE # 1 Be prepared and do the work.  Early into my first coaching experience I was also taking care of my three kids.  We had let go our nanny and I was now a SOLO Mom.  My husband did the Dad thing, but I no longer had help with the Mom thing.  I didn’t have the time to devote to effectively utilizing my coach because I wasn’t doing the work in between sessions.  Which was okay at the time and I just wanted to move directionally towards my goals.  The point is that it was a waste of money to continue paying for a coach when I wasn’t doing the work.

RULE #2 Be open to the suggestions, the accountability and the coaching.  If you aren’t going to listen to anything the coach offers then you either have the wrong coach or you aren’t coachable.  (And your wasting their time and your money!)   I’m not saying to just take orders either.  Coaching is collaborative.  We have to work with the person to get value from it.

RULE #3 Be transparent.  Openly share information along with your ideas, concerns and fears.  I had a mental block about public speaking.  So I hired a coach that specialized in coaching people for public speaking.  If I went into the coaching relationship just asking for help with the mechanics and didn’t share that, by the way I am a nervous wreck, the coach couldn’t have really helped me overcome my biggest hurdle – FEAR.

RULE #4 Challenge the coach.  Again, this is a business resource.  You are the client and you are also the person closest to your business.  Challenge the coach regarding a cookie cutter perspective that may not fit your business.  Ask for the type of help that will work best for you.  Solicit the coaches opinions, suggestions and resources.

As a coach, I am more effective when my clients are engaged in the process.  I learned early on that we can’t work harder than the client.  It isn’t part of the model to carry or do the work for them.  So if you do not feel you are receiving value from your coach, you may want to first evaluate your own effort.  If you are present, working hard and not seeing immense value, then you may re-evaluate the coach you hired to see if they fit well with you based on the rules above.  If I can help you figure out if you are ready for coaching or assist you in determining how coaching could help you in your business, feel free to contact me!  I can look at it from both views – as a client and as a coach.  I feel fortunate to have vast experience to share with others, but I also know the areas that I am blindfolded, and having a guide keeps me moving forward while avoiding painful pitfalls!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.