Hiring a business coach can be a career-defining and life-changing move for entrepreneurs and executives. A survey published by the International Coach Federation (ICF) found that on average, those working with a 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.
Yet, 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% of CEOs in the survey used an executive coach in the last 12 months, a proportion that increased dramatically as their companies scaled. While 32% of seed-stage CEOs used a coach, 60% of growth-stage CEOs did the same.” 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, it’s also highly unlikely.
Find out what a business coach is, what they do, the benefits of hiring one, and a few answers to common questions most entrepreneurs have about them.
What is a Business Coach?
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. For example, they 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 a business coach’s job to facilitate an analytical process that helps entrepreneurs ideate, strategize, and make better decisions that lead to goal accomplishment.
While business coaches share many similarities with therapists and consultants, they’re also very different.
What Do Business Coaches Do and Can They Produce Results?
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 in an article on her website, “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 in how to get to the next level. The greatest benefit 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.
- Guiding leaders through the problem solving process so roadblocks can be eliminated.
- Discussing profitable areas, plans for business growth, and what must be done in order 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.
- Teaching the art of delegation so other team members can complete the tasks taking away from their productiveness.
- Holding business owners accountable for achieving the objectives they committed themselves to.
- Dissolving limiting beliefs by being encouraging and showing belief in their coachee.
- Noticing and developing leadership qualities that need additional improvement.
Commonly Asked Questions About Business Coaches
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 coaching is right for them.
Who is business coaching for?
Business coaching is for any professional interested in growing themselves and the company they work for. While entrepreneurs and executives are most commonly associated with having business coaches, having a C-suite title is not a requirement. Depending on the company, many junior-level employees receive business coaching 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 coaches marketing themselves on social media. The industry is currently experiencing an explosion in growth. 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 coach, and who is not.
Here’s three tips for finding a qualified business coach:
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. 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 the 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. 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? If the red flags of a bad investment are there, research other options.
How much does a business coach cost?
Costs associated with coaches 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. Online programs 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 on having a business coach?
Before hiring a business coach, 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 those studied indicated a measured ROI of at least 5,000 percent.”
- The Personnel Management Association discovered “executives who received both coaching and training were able to increase their productivity by 86 percent compared to a 22 percent increase in productivity by executives who received training alone.” The same study reported 61 percent of owners felt an increase in job satisfaction, while 67 percent felt coaching increased their teamwork skills.
Getting Started with the Right Business Coach
Think about the effect of being 87 percent more productive, 61 percent happier at work, and 70 percent a more 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 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 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 is to prepare a business plan, if you don’t have one yet. This will give your coach an overview of the company and secify what you want to accomplish. Don’t worry about perfecting it, though. A good coach will help you do this over time.