I have been asked by a few people over the past week, “What is business coaching?” It has actually been awhile since I have been asked that question. When I became a business coach, about seven years ago, I had my quick answer to describe it. Over time I moved to just discussing solutions to each person’s business challenges. I used to think people asked this question just because coaching was still a relatively new field and they were not familiar with the industry and how coaching could help. This week I felt that there was more layers to the question. It was more of a series of inquiries wrapped up in the body language, facial expression, and the verbal inquiry. I was hearing:
- How can business coaching help my business?
- Are all business coaches the same?
- How can I effectively use business coaching as a resource for me?
Maybe I am reading a lot into the question or maybe the look of curiosity, fear, and ambiguity resonated with how I have felt hiring business coaches for myself over the past 5 years. It has been a journey for me and a learning experience.
Why I needed a coach?
I am a product of a corporate environment. Even though I have had opportunities to dip into my entrepreneurial spirit in some of my corporate roles, I was still used to working with people. I had people to collaborate with, to hold me accountable, and to encourage my efforts. (Yes, I also had people breathing down my neck, not getting the vision, and holding up progress with red tape!) But we need to maintain the good elements of our history as we embark on new adventures. I was going into private practice for coaching and counseling which I had never done before. I had never been a coach, a counselor or owned my own business. It was truly a new frontier. But I had a God inspired mission that I wanted to aspire to. I was praying but I needed someone else to work with. I needed a coach as a partner. One of my earliest coaches:
- helped me to articulate and fine tune the vision I had for CrossRoads Professional Services.
- challenged me and told me it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t put ideas into action. When you are a one man show you can’t just be an idea person.
- brainstormed strategies to achieve my vision considering my resources and personal constraints. She had already developed her coaching business and she knew what was required.
- provided her experience and expertise in creating a successful private practice.
- gave me someone to call (in addition to my husband) who cared if I landed a new client, developed a website, and all of the other little milestones that we want to celebrate when we are building something brick by brick with our own hands and money.
As time moved on I began to develop a team to work with on my business. Other counselors, accountants, attorneys and other experts to get administrative help in creating the foundation for my business. But, I soon hit a new crossroad:
Do I grow outside of what I can handle personally coaching and counseling people one-on-one?
Crossroad – Do I take my business to the next level?
I wanted to grow and continue to evolve my business, but I didn’t want to grow by just adding personal work hours to my week. I either had to stay under the glass ceiling or create a new business model to facilitate growth to the next level. My next phase of coaching support was in creating multiple streams of income. Adding groups, creating products, and venturing into the internet marketing world. I jumped onto twitter and began following all of the internet marketing experts, multiple streams coaches, and related information gurus. There is a ton of information available. Enough to spread you too thin and make you dangerous to yourself. I have heard horror stories of people who buy this person’s program, signed-up for another person’s tele-seminar, read a separate expert’s blog or ebook and became throughly confused, throwing spaghetti at the wall, trying a diverse set of tactics to grow their business. Thankfully I was a little slow to pull the trigger and avoided this expensive diversion. Or better yet, maybe God gave me some discernment and helped me navigate through this crossroad because I came to two conclusions:
- There are many self professed experts selling their method, philosophy, process on how to make it in business, internet marketing, etc. And although there is probably more than one of these methods that actually works, we need to pick one expert that fits us and go with it. If not, you just have a bunch of spaghetti dripping down your wall.
- Even if there is great information and a detailed roadmap for self-implementation it is difficult to self-learn, self-plan, and self-implement in an effective, timely and focused manner. Getting some one-on-one help is like having someone leading you by the hand when you are blindfold. You may get to your destination even blindfolded, but without help, you will probably have a few bruises, some embarrassing moments, and some timely detours along the way.
As I become more coachable (I admit I wasn’t ready 5 years ago), I am learning that having a coach who learns my business and really becomes involved with helping me to achieve my vision will provide me with the companionship of a partner, the wisdom of an expert consultant, an abbreviation of my learning curve, a compass to keep me focused, and a friend to genuinely celebrate accomplishment.
Share with us your experience with coaching and check back tomorrow; I will follow-up with how to more effectively utilize a business coach once you make the decision that You Are Coachable!