Using a Coach to Grow your Startup
from Huff Post 4/15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
A Business Coach is: an experienced entrepreneur who’s been where you want to go and experienced what you want to experience – who can give you an objective perspective and counsel to start or build a more successful business — without having to go through all the painful trial & error yourself.
Purpose of a Business Coach: In a real way, a business coach is similar to a sports coach in that your coach’s role is to help you focus, plan, prepare, execute, & evaluate your results, (maybe take a new approach),so that you get the goals you’re committed to, in your business.
Don’t try to do it on your own. Too many business owners build their businesses in isolation, lacking the outside perspective & feedback from an experienced Mentor. What’s more, most business owners don’t have anyone in their business lives who “challenges” their thinking & questions their assumptions.
Experience. Here’s how my friend and co-author of the book “Scale”, Jeff Hoffman (co-founder of Priceline.com) put it: “What I get out of having a business coach is that my coach has run and worked with so many companies that they’ve seen almost every situation. So when I don’t even know how to handle a new situation, my coach says, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ve seen this pattern before and here’s how to best handle it.”
Having been a Business Coach for >20 years, here are my top 10 tips to get the most out of your Business Coach:
1. Strong Knowledge & in-depth Experience. (ie, has started a few companies) The whole idea of leveraging a business coach is to help you avoid a lot of the expensive trial & error that most business owners have – as they build a business. While many of the situations you come up against in your business (whether they be about managing your team, growing your sales, creating your next products or services, or controlling your expenses) may be new to you, your coach can draw on his or her past experiences to give you clarity on the best path forward.
2. Pick a Coach who is Articulate, and explain things to you in simple, step-by-step language so that you can integrate what they share and put it to immediate and effective use.
3. Meet Frequently, but don’t over-do it – Every two weeks to a monthly. You want to meet often enough that you have time to carry out your Action Items to have effective accountability. Monthly is good, because you can discuss the monthly results and look for trends.
4. Give your Business Coach weekly updates on your progress. 5-15 minutes spent each week to update your coach about your progress, both shows accountability and keeps your coach up to speed with your company, so he can give you his best input.
5. Share your Numbers-candidly. Yes it can be scary to share your revenue, gross margin, & operating profit figures with complete candor, but by being open, you will get valuable outside perspective & feedback. Don’t sugar coat anything. Your coach won’t judge you. Their real desire is to help you grow & succeed. To do that, they need accurate data.
6. Don’t just Focus on just the problem ; look for company-wide solutions, that can turn into a process of the whole system. Solving a challenge is great, but solving a challenge in a way that improves & develops your company’s internal systems & controls, is even more valuable.
7. Be held Accountable. The right business coach will always be in your corner, and sometimes this means being the one person in your business life who holds you accountable for your actions. As a Business Coach, I’ve seen the impact on their business when they play maximum & allow me to hold them accountable.
8. Don’t rationalize or explain away Reality. Because – even if you “win” the discussion – reality will still win the war. I smile when I think about all the exceptionally smart & articulate business owners I’ve coached over the years. At one point or another most thought they could explain away a challenge or situation with a well-rehearsed argument. I smiled. You don’t need to defend or make excuses with your coach. Use your business coaching relationship to be the one place where you can be fully transparent with what is going on in your business life. Your business coach will help you take full responsibility and accept the objective facts on the ground. From this place you can both come up with an effective Plan of Action to harness those facts to reach your goals.
9. Let down your Ego, and accept the help & insights of your business coach. You don’t have to posture or look good. Your coach has seen just about everything you are dealing with and worked through it. Let them save you the time, energy, emotion, & money, by helping you learn from his or her experiences versus painful & expensive trial & terror. (er, error) LoL
10. Get rid of your Excuses. You don’t have to do it perfectly, but you do have to take action. Of course you’re busy. But when will that ever really change, if you don’t do the things that reduce your company’s reliance on you?
11. Commitment. My final piece of coaching to you is that if you want to enjoy the growth and freedom that the right business coach can help you enjoy, then you’ve got to let go of your excuses and dive fully into the commitment. Sure you’ll mess up and have set backs, but I’ve seen the magic that can happen over 12-24-36 months of focused, directed, intelligent action in scaling a company. Time’s going to pass either way. What will you be saying three years from today? “If only I had…” or “I’m so glad I did!”? So dive in and put your coach’s input into action.
Comments: Is the anything you can add, from your experience with a Business Coach?