Hiring a business coach can be a career-defining and life-changing move for entrepreneurs and executives. And the statistics speak for themselves. A survey published by the International Coach Federation (ICF) found that on average, those working with a business coach grow their net income by 46 percent. In addition to this, the research discovered 62.4 percent of executives and entrepreneurs set better goals, 57.1 percent lowered their anxiety, and 52.4 percent felt more confident.
Yet, the most interesting finding from this study is the number of people who describe this relationship as one of the most important in their life. 50 percent of respondents said they spoke to their business coach as much as their significant other, best friend, or therapist. With this information in mind, it’s clear having a business coach is an extremely valuable partnership when the right connection is established.
However, too many business owners try to go at it alone, especially during the startup phase. According to Allen Gannett’s report in Fast Company on coaching in venture-backed startups, 39 percent of CEOs had used a business coach in the past year. The report shows that the proportion increased dramatically as entrepreneurs scaled their businesses. Overall, 32 percent of seed-stage executives used a business coach compared to 60 percent of CEOs in the growth stage. There’s a reason this number increases as entrepreneurs scale—they need the support a business coach provides. Being the hero and trying to handle growing a company by yourself is not only stressful, but it’s also highly unlikely to lead to lasting success.
In this article, find out what a business coach is, what they do, the benefits of hiring a business coach, and a few answers to common questions most entrepreneurs have about them.
- According to one survey, people who work with a business coach increase their net income by 46 percent.
- Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are just a couple examples of notable business leaders who had a business coach.
- More than 115,000 people make a living in the business coaching industry.
- One study found that the average business coach makes $61,800 each year.
- According to another study, executives who were coached and trained boosted their productivity by 86 percent.
What Is Business Coaching?
A business coach is someone who has extensive business experience or education that enables them to help other business owners succeed at growing their companies. They also work closely with an entrepreneur to develop the skills needed to lead others and cast a vision for the company.
For example, a business coach will help leaders evaluate their behaviors and actions. This helps them see whether or not they’re in alignment with what it takes to reach their goals. It is the job of a business coach to facilitate an analytical process that helps entrepreneurs ideate, strategize, and make better decisions that lead to goal accomplishment.
What Do Business Coaches Do and Can They Produce Results?
“Does coaching work? Yes. Good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.”Jack Welch
The primary purpose of a business coach is to work with an entrepreneur or executive on how to grow their company in a sustainable way. As coach Emma-Louise Elsey explains, “Simply put, coaching is where you work with someone to connect with yourself, redesign your environment and your life, and then take action to implement it.”
Like any type of coach, a business coach helps improve individuals by training them to get to the next level. The greatest benefit a business coach provides for entrepreneurs and executives is that their job is dependent on creating real results. A coach’s sole purpose is getting you to the place you imagine yourself being, but know you can’t achieve alone. As famous football coach Bill McCartney once said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.” By teaching and challenging a coachee, business coaches instigate the growth process needed for the achievement of higher personal and professional goals.
Additionally, business coaches increase their players’ results by:
- Being an objective yet experienced professional who provides valuable insight into handling business affairs.
- Bringing clarity to a business owner’s understanding of the vision they have for their company, the organization’s mission, and why their work matters.
- Helping with setting and accomplishing realistic goals and KPIs.
- Reviewing tracked metrics and how they affect business initiatives and personal goals.
- Discussing profitable areas, plans for business growth, and what must be done to get the company to the next scaling phase.
- Finding green zone areas of work that speak to a leader’s purpose and create joy in their lives.
- Holding business owners accountable for achieving the objectives they committed themselves to.
- Dissolving limiting beliefs by being encouraging and showing belief in their coachee.
Helping Entrepreneurs Develop Skills
“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.”John Russell
A business coach doesn’t just pay attention to the company’s success—they want the business owner to grow and develop valuable skills, all starting with establishing a high level of trust. An effective business coach is someone you can trust completely. They maintain total confidentiality no matter what you talk about, and they only have your success in mind. Establishing that level of trust will allow you to show more vulnerability as they help you grow in your role as a business owner and leader. By doing this, your company will grow as well.
Some of the skills a business coach will help cultivate include the following:
- Leadership qualities: An effective business coach will notice and develop an entrepreneur’s leadership qualities. In this way, they’ll become a dynamic leader for their employees, someone others can confidently follow.
- Problem-solving: Part of business coaching is guiding leaders through the problem-solving process so roadblocks can be eliminated. This is a skill that applies to many areas of business and can stick with the business owner their entire life.
- Delegation: When a business coach teaches the art of delegation, a business owner becomes more productive since other team members can complete the tasks. This frees the owner up to focus on other aspects of the organization.
- Emotional intelligence: A business coach can also help someone improve their emotional intelligence. This will help them better understand and connect with others, which can make them more effective leaders.
- Strategic and tactical planning: Another way to help entrepreneurs solve problems is by developing their strategic and tactical planning skills. A business coach can show how to approach a problem through a broad strategy while also creating the tactical steps needed to execute the strategy.
- Communication skills: A business owner may not be the best writer or public speaker, but a business coach can still teach them valuable communication skills that will help shape them into a more inspirational leader.
Commonly Asked Questions About Business Coaches
“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”Bob Nardelli
Hiring a business coach can be an intimidating experience when you’re not sure about what to expect. For this reason, here are a few answers to common questions many leaders have before deciding if business coaching services are right for them.
Who is business coaching for?
Business coaching programs are for any professional interested in growing themselves and the company they work for. While entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners are most commonly associated with having a business coach, a C-suite title is not a requirement. Depending on the company, many junior-level employees receive business coaching services sponsored by their employer. Some businesses offer a stipend for this type of development, while others might have an organizational coach employees can meet with. This is a great way to multiply leaders who are heavily invested in fulfilling the business’s mission.
A few examples of leaders who famously used a business coach include:
- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
- Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation
- Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul series
- Alan Mulally, Former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company
- Aicha Evans, Former Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Intel
How do I recognize a legitimate business coach?
Today, there is a vast number of business coaching services and individual coaches marketing themselves on social media. The industry is currently experiencing an explosion in growth, with more than 115,000 people in the business coaching industry in the U.S. alone. In fact, IBISWorld found revenue made by coaches in 2015 was $2.356 billion, while that number increased to $15 billion in 2019. This means there are a lot more coaches out there than there were several years ago. With this in mind, upon first appearances, it’s hard to tell who is a legitimate business coach and who is not.
What are tips for finding qualified business coaching programs?
Align Your Goals With Their Experience
You want to hire someone who has real experience in achieving the objectives you hope to reach. For example, if you want to take your business to seven figures this year, don’t hire a business coach who has never helped someone do this before. Be specific about finding a person whose expertise matches up with the type of growth you’re seeking.
Ask About Qualifications
Don’t blindly trust that a person is qualified to coach others. Business coaching certifications and a propensity for continued learning show the person you’re considering is dedicated to their craft. This is what you’re looking for. Programs accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) are a great indicator of this. For more information on legitimate certifications, check out this list.
Do Your Research
Look for testimonials, reviews, case studies, and any hard evidence indicating the business coach can actually help take you to the place you’re looking to go. Check out their social media and what others are saying about their experience with this person. If the red flags of a bad investment are there, research other options.
Here are some questions to ask when doing research:
- Did they go off the grid for a while?
- Do they only have three months’ worth of posts?
- Are you the first client they’ve ever had?
- Have clients given them less than five stars?
Is there a difference between a business coach and a mentor or consultant?
While it may sound like a business coach is similar to a mentor or business consultant, there are some key differences to note. A mentor has valuable experience and guides an individual through wise advice and effective preparation. Unlike a business coach, a mentor can provide guidance in someone’s personal life, including helping with any number of goals outside of their professional career and business.
Business consultants usually are part of a larger company or firm. They have a number of responsibilities, such as connecting companies with new clients, identifying new areas of business opportunities, and helping an organization create a business plan. A consultant largely works with the company as a whole and not specifically with the business owner. This is in contrast to a business coach, who guides the business owner into achieving their individual goals, which usually involves the success of the company they run.
How much does a business coach cost?
Costs associated with business coaching vary from person to person. Pricing depends on a coach’s experience, what they’ve achieved in their career, the results they’ve driven, and how much they’re in demand. The type of coaching arrangement also affects the cost of coaching. For example, some coaches offer group coaching, which is typically less expensive than working one-on-one. An online business coach can also have a lower price tag than meeting with a business coach in-office. In addition to this, some coaches will offer discounts to clients who invest in a longer upfront commitment.
ICF’s 2016 Global Coaching Study found the average coach makes $61,800 a year. In another study, they estimated those making $150,000 charged around $607 per hour. Those in between $100,000–$150,000 priced their services at $365 per hour. This would mean the average coach might charge around $220 dollars an hour. Again, prices are entirely dependent upon who the coach is, how many clients they can take on, and more.
What is the ROI of participating in a business coaching program?
Before hiring a coaching business, many entrepreneurs and executives want to know what type of return they’ll get on their investment. While results will vary, the data is pretty compelling.
Here’s a few examples of coaching’s positive returns:
- A report by MetrixGlobal LLC found coaching clients received a $7.90 return for every $1.00 they invested.
- The ICF’s 2009 Global Coaching Client Study found 19 percent of subjects indicated an ROI of around 5,000 percent.
- The Personnel Management Association discovered that executives who received both coaching and training were able to increase their productivity by 86 percent. That was compared to a 22 percent increase in productivity by executives who only received training but no business coaching help. The same study reported 61 percent of owners felt an increase in job satisfaction, while 67 percent felt coaching increased their teamwork skills.
Are there any downsides to working with an online business coach?
While online business coaching can be a more affordable way to receive the benefits of having a business coach, there are some downsides to consider. An online business coach means only communicating through remote means. This can make it more difficult to establish a connection. You may also encounter problems with undependable technology, which can inhibit progress when trying to communicate with each other. For the most part, however, virtual coaching is a great way to help you reach your business goals, especially when you’re on a budget.
Getting Started With the Right Business Coach
“The best coaches really care about people. They have a sincere interest in people.”Byron & Catherine Pulsifer
Think about the effect of being 87 percent more productive, 61 percent happier at work, and 70 percent more of an effective team player. It would drastically change your business and life for the better. With that being said, this can only happen when an entrepreneur or executive connects with the right business coach. Working with the wrong person can have the opposite effect. As a result, business owners and executives can experience a decrease in confidence and self-esteem, make poor decisions, execute poorly planned strategies, and cause damage to their company.
To find the right business coach:
- Ask your professional network for a trusted, personal recommendation.
- Talk to the business coach’s references about the results they’ve experienced working with this person.
- Converse with the coach over the phone or in person to see if there’s a good synergy between the two of you.
- Discuss the coach’s expertise and experience.
- Know what you want from coaching and be direct about these needs.
- Find out the details of how they operate as a coach and what you can expect from working with them.
- Be willing to make an investment in yourself. A great coach will rarely offer closeout prices.
Additionally, a serious business coach will want to get started immediately growing you and your company. Before your first session, prepare to work with your coach by establishing three to five large-scale goals. Another great tip for starting with business coaching is to prepare a business plan if you don’t have one yet. This will give your coach an overview of the company and specify what you want to accomplish. Don’t worry about perfecting it, though. A good coach will help you do this over time.
Need someone who will help you navigate business and life? Get the answer to the question, “What is a life coach?”
Want to refine your leadership skills? Find out more about leadership coaching.
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- 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study. ICF. https://coachfederation.org/app/uploads/2017/12/2016ICFGlobalCoachingStudy_ExecutiveSummary-2.pdf
- ICF Global Coaching Client Study, Final Report June 2009. ICF. http://thehealthyexec.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ICF-Global-Coaching-Client-Study-complete.pdf
- Gannett, Allen. “Dismantling The Myth Of The Self-Reliant CEO.” FastCompany. https://www.fastcompany.com/3060235/dismantling-the-myth-of-the-self-reliant-ceo
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- “What does a Business Consultant do?” Glassdoor.com. https://www.glassdoor.com/Career/business-consultant-career_KO0,19.htm
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