Frequently Asked Questions

About Business Coaching

Business coaching has two distinct areas of focus, the development of your business in order to meet your objectives and the development of you as a business owner or managing director (and maybe your senior team) in order to run the business more effectively and efficiently.

A business coach can provide support in a number of ways.

In a pure coaching mode they can facilitate better thinking so that you come away with clarity and focus.

They can act as a sounding board so that you can bounce ideas around with someone who “gets it”.

With an external perspective they can make observations and feedback to you things which you may not have noticed.

Acting as a mentor, they can draw on their own experience and the experience of their clients to suggest alternative options for you to consider.

Acting as a teacher or trainer, they can introduce you to relevant concepts, tools and best practice and then support you in applying those to your situation.

Sometimes they can act as a consultant, where they have a specific area of expertise and can provide professional advice and guidance. They may even do a practical task alongside you and in some circumstances might do a piece of consultancy work for you.

A business coach is there to support you in developing the way you run your business to work towards the results that you are aiming for.

A business coach, particularly a small business coach (a small business is usually less than 50 staff), typically has broad knowledge across a range of areas.

A business coach isn’t necessarily an expert in every area, what they really bring is some insight into how to shape the whole business. They are more focused on how to make all the parts of the business work together to produce better results rather than being an expert in each part. Whilst they will have a broad and deep knowledge of most areas, they will know when to signpost you to a technical specialist (eg lawyer, HR professional, IT consultant, accountant etc).

The areas that a business coach can typically help with are:

  • Developing Strategy
  • Business Planning
  • Planning for Growth
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Team Development
  • Improving Productivity
  • Developing Systems
  • Finance, Profit and Cashflow
  • Operational Effectiveness

The benefits of business coaching are many and varied.

There are so many possible benefits that there is a separate article on it! You can read more about the benefits of business coaching here…

What a great question!

The business coach is only part of the answer. You are the biggest factor in whether business coaching will work for you. The fact that you are even looking at this website and have dug into the FAQs already suggests that business coaching is more likely to work for you. Why? Two reasons spring to mind:

  • you are searching for support – this is a great first step – you have probably recognised the need for some external input
  • you are thinking about this seriously and deeply – you’ve dug down into the FAQs, doing some serious reading and research – this isn’t a casual visit, it’s an in-depth one. You’re serious about it.

If you’re serious about improving your business, open to external input and willing to take action as a result then you are highly likely to benefit from business coaching.

Typically I’ve found that business coaching works well for clients whee these sorts of qualities are present:

  • Asks questions – not afraid to say they don’t know or don’t understand
  • Driven and motivated – wanting to improve things
  • Keen to learn – have recognised that the skills, knowledge and experience that got them this far might not get them to the next level
  • Willing to take action – to implement things in between coaching sessions
  • Take responsibility – for their actions and decisions – to learn from the results and adapt as necessary (rather than blaming others and circumstances)
  • Healthy balance of patience and impatience – growing a business is a long term exercise peppered with short term bursts of activity – being committed to taking focused short term action for long term gain

If you recognise some or all of those qualities in yourself and you find a business coach that you get on with and who takes the time to understand you and your business, then the answer is almost certainly yes, business coaching will work for you!

Investing in Business Coaching

Business coaching is delivered in many different ways and so there are many different possible costs.

Coaching could take the form of regular coaching sessions over a period of time (weeks or months). The purpose of this approach is so that you can take action between coaching sessions and reflect on the results in each session. There could be a rolling monthly fee with no contract so that you can opt out whenever you like, or there could be or a fee for a coaching package maybe for 3 months or 6 months.

Business coaching could take the form of more intensive workshop sessions, e.g. to develop a strategy or review a particular set of issues. These could be one-off pieces of work or could form the basis of the start of a period of coaching.

Business coaches are usually highly experienced, knowledgeable and professionally qualified. Typically their rates reflect that – but don’t be put off by that because you may not need as much of their time as you first think – the overall cost still provides excellent value for money!

Whilst this isn’t a site that can give you tax advice, business coaching is a professional service that is there to support the growth and development of the business. It is no different from any other professional service that a business might use. There is no obvious reason why business coaching shouldn’t be tax deductible in most countries.

That’s a decision for you!

If you want to grow your business faster, more efficiently and more effectively than you would otherwise do, then yes, business coaching is worth it.

If you would like to run your business with a greater sense of control, choice and enjoyment, then yes, business coaching is worth it.

If you would like to have a clearer sense of direction and know what to focus on to get your business to where you want it to be, then yes business coaching is worth it.

If you would like to have a viable long-term business that you can be proud of, that looks after you and your family’s future, then yes, business coaching is worth it.

If you would like to overcome the challenges that you presently face and develop the skills and knowledge to run your business confidently, then yes, business coaching is worth it.

However, if you choose a coach you don’t like or respect, or you don’t engage with the coaching process, or you don’t make time for the coaching sessions, or you don’t take any of the agreed actions, then probably hiring a business coach won’t be worth it.

Whilst there is a cost to Business Coaching, it should be seen as an investment. An investment in your business, of course, but more importantly an investment for the long term in you as a business owner.

Unlike consultancy, where the consultant does the work for you and you’re no more knowledgeable than when you started, business coaching aims to build your capacity.

What you will learn through the business coaching process will stay with you for the rest of your life. You will learn skills, tools and methods, gain valuable knowledge, experience and insights. If you apply all of this, then they will pay dividends year after year, giving a huge return on investment.

Even in the short term, it is quite likely that with some focused attention from you and your coach you can find ways to increase your business profits to more than cover the business coaching fees.

Choosing a Business Coach

To start with, a good business coach is one that you trust and can work with. Being able to establish a relationship where you can share everything that you want to discuss is essential.

There are a wide range of styles that coaches adopt, so there is no one best approach. However a good business coach will listen to what you want to achieve and support you in getting there. They will draw on both your and their experience and expertise, offering suggestions, making observations, encouraging action and holding you to account.

An independent business coach provides you with an impartial sounding board to bounce ideas around. After all, who else can you bounce ideas around with? Friends, family and colleagues all have an agenda, so it’s difficult to get an impartial view. It can be very difficult to discuss things openly with colleagues due to confidentiality reasons or to avoid creating uncertainty. Sometimes there’s simply no-one else to speak to who “gets it” like you do! A professional business coach is removed from the situation and can be objective, impartial – and, of course, confidential.

A small business coach is one who specialises in small businesses – understanding the context that the business owner operates in. A small business generally has less than 50 staff and so the business owner is key to most operations of the business. As a result there can be few other senior colleagues with whom to sound out ideas, resolve issues and improve the business. A small business coach provides that support independently when it is needed.

The most typical time to hire a business coach is when there is some sort of change in the business – or when there is a realisation that something needs to change. This could be planning for growth, re-organising systems and structures. It could be when the business is under performing, has reached a plateau, or is facing other challenges. One of the main changes is preparing for the business owner to take a step back or exit the business.

Business coaches widely advertise their services online, promote their services through events and have links with other business support bodies, such as their local Chamber of Commerce or Enterprise Nation for example.

If you want face to face business coaching then a local business coach will be important. If working with the right person is important to you then working with a business coach online or via telephone could be a better option. This will influence where to find the right business coach for you.

Other Types Of Business Support

Business mentoring is provide by a mentor who has experience, expertise and relevant industry knowledge that can be a helpful resource to the business owner. The mentor can draw on that experience to make suggestions and propose alternatives for the business owner to consider.

When done badly, mentoring can lead to advice and direction being given to the business owner which can be counterproductive. Done well it is an excellent approach and a great way to pick up “tricks of the trade” and to avoid basic mistakes.

Business coaching is about supporting and empowering a business owner through focused conversations in order to achieve the business owner’s coaching objectives. It is about improving the quality of thinking, decision-making etc. Business coaching does not require the business coach to be an expert in their industry. Indeed the lack of knowledge may be very helpful as the process of explaining the key aspects of the industry and answering questions can be very helpful in clarifying how things are, flushing out assumptions and seeing the business from an outsider’s perspective.

Business mentoring is like business coaching but with experience, expertise and relevant industry knowledge. The mentor can draw on that experience to make suggestions and propose alternatives for the business owner to consider. It’s “coaching with content”. This isn’t always better than coaching as the specific knowledge that the mentor has may be out of date or may support “groupthink” by confirming, rather than challenging assumptions.

Business coaching is about working with the business owner – it is a collaboration of two equals to develop the business. The aim is not just to achieve an end result, but to empower the business owner through that process, leaving them with greater skills and capacity for the future.

Consultancy is about employing an expert to do a piece of work. The objective is to produce the agreed deliverables, on time and on budget. There is no intention to empower the business owner or to transfer skills to them.

Business coaching is focused on the needs of the business and, usually, works with the business owner and their senior management team. There are two areas for development – the business and the business owner and the coaching objectives are set by the business owner.

Executive coaching is focused on the needs of an individual manager in an organisation and coaching is often commissioned by a line manager. The coaching objectives are set in discussion with the individual manager and the line manager.