If you’ve decided to start your own business, but don’t have any previous experience to use as guidance, then a professional business coach could be just the person that you need. An executive coach can be a hugely valuable tool for young business founders, helping them see problems differently – particularly when the time comes to transition from start-up founder to business leader.
However, if you’re on the lookout for a good business coach then it’s important to bear in mind that all coaches are different, so investing your energy and your finances into finding and using a good coaching relationship should never be taken lightly. Whether you want somebody there to ask questions when you’re struggling for answers or want somebody to guide you through the tricky parts of getting your business off the ground, here are some of the main things to look for in a business coach.
#1. Somebody on your wavelength:
The last thing you want is to have a coach who you feel doesn’t quite ‘get’ you or what you’re trying to achieve with your business. You should never be afraid to ask questions, even if you think that they might sound silly. The ideal coach should be somebody who shares mindset and chemistry with you, is on the same wavelength when it comes to your business goals, and is just as passionate about your business ideas as you are.
#2. Somebody who holds you accountable:
Don’t worry if, as your business grows and develops, you outgrow business coaches and end up looking for new ones who’re more in line with the current stage you’re at in your entrepreneurship journey. But early on in the process, it is crucial that you are able to find somebody who will keep you accountable to your major goals, rather than letting you lead all the time. When you have a good business coach, you’ll need to get comfortable with being asked uncomfortable questions about where you’re up to, why you’re not where you wanted to be, and what you plan to do to get there.
#3. Somebody who’s honest with you:
The last thing that you need is a business coach who beats around the bush. In order to make sure that you’re not falling into the same traps as many other first-time entrepreneurs, a good business coach understands that sometimes they’re just going to have to be very blunt and brutally honest. Although they understand that you don’t know everything and will respect the fact that you’ve tried your best, they won’t be shy about calling you out if they think that you are about to make a huge mistake. Ideally, your business coach should be a seasoned entrepreneur – listen to any stories that they tell you about their early experiences and learn from any mistakes that they made.
#4. Somebody who balances your strengths and weaknesses:
Before choosing the right business coach for you, it’s a good idea to take a look at yourself and get a deeper understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, particularly the latter. Looking inward for your own weak areas, and being completely honest with yourself, will help you decide on the key strengths that your business coach will need to possess. Find a coach who has strengths where you are lacking, so that you can find a good balance. Superprof is an ideal site to use to start looking for a business coach or tutor with the right strengths. You can search for tutors and coaches who specialise in a variety of business areas in all areas of the UK.
#5. Somebody who’s interested in you and your company:
Bear in mind that you can ask for – or even buy – advice from pretty much any successful entrepreneur or executive who’s been in your position, but the level of commitment that you’ll get from them is going to vary. Look for a business coach who’s not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also takes a genuine interest in your business, your success, and you as an individual. With that in mind, it’s also worth considering that some of the best coaches aren’t paid for their services – your best advice could come from a trusted friend or family member with business experience.
#6. Someone who leads by example:
The best business and executive coaches do a whole lot more than just talk the talk. Anybody can give you an idealistic pep talk – in fact, you could just read some blog posts – so look for a smart, effective business leader who is able to clearly demonstrate how something should be done, so that you can follow their example. Don’t run the risk of ending up with a pricey ‘expert’ who just recites something that they once read in a textbook.
#7. Somebody who will be your mentor:
A professional executive coach might not be the best option for a younger business founder – you may find that you benefit much more from a mentor; usually, an individual who is a seasoned and experienced entrepreneur, in the same or a similar industry, who can help guide you, show you the ropes and provide valuable insight based on their own experiences.
#8. Somebody who isn’t afraid to admit their failures:
One of the most important qualities of a good entrepreneur and business leader is to be able to admit when you’ve made a mistake. After all, failure is not always a bad thing – they are often the most important things that you have when it comes to developing not only your business but your personal skills. A good business coach or mentor should be comfortable with openly talking about his or her failures, as they see their past mistakes as learning curves and have been able to successfully learn from them since then.
#9. Somebody who’s objective and trustworthy:
Often, being a business founder can feel like you’re on an island – you’ll have access to many people who can help you out including mentors, investors, a team of employees and perhaps even a board of directors – but you may often find yourself avoiding sharing certain things with them so that you don’t raise any ‘red flags’. A good business coach can help by providing support when you find yourself in these situations, guiding you through building emotional awareness, developing strong communication skills and dealing with any challenges confidently.
#10. Somebody who brings out the best side in you:
Your own mind and gut instinct is one of your best assets as an entrepreneur, so it is important to find a business coach who is able to actively and deeply listen to you in order to help facilitate your own best thinking, rather than simply telling you what to do or dive straight into providing you with answers without first giving you a chance to organize your own thought process and guide you as you come up with your own ideas and solutions. In the end, strong innovation will be the product of combining both your skill sets, so the ideal business coach should be somebody who complements, rather than overpowers, your existing skills and strengths.
Whatever your industry, business goals, or past experience, working with a good business coach or mentor can help you reach your entrepreneurial goals.