HAVE YOU HEARD the saying – ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’?
This saying applies perfectly to the world of business coaching today, because to many owners of micro and small businesses looking for help and support, almost anyone with more business expertise than them, can appear to be ‘King’. This can cause serious problems for the unsuspecting business owner looking for experienced help and support in their business..
At any one time, around one third of business coaches are coming into the industry fresh and new for the first time – these represent the new intake trying their hand as a business coach; many are franchisees. Around one third form the established core of business coaches and the remaining one third are on their way out, in one way or another – either it hasn’t worked for them or frankly, they’ve found they are not up to the job.
The question is – how to identify the established, professional one third of business coaches?
The new arrivals
Check for the absence of solid ‘all-round’ business experience, the new people coming into coaching for the first time (0 to 4 years) have to find ways to punch above their weight; in the absence of word of mouth recommendations and a good reputation, they generally rely on highly developed marketing and selling strategies to attract prospective customers. Often, they will pool their particular skills with others that are also new to coaching or mentoring, or they buy into the comfort of a franchise.
The third of people in the process of leaving business coaching are the most difficult group to spot. Whilst it won’t be easy to spot their low self-confidence (‘bruised’ from complaints and difficulties with past clients), one sign that identifies this category of coach is that they tend to take on work that is clearly outside their comfort zone or experience.
The established one third can be identified as those that can demonstrate they have been coaching for at least five and ideally over ten years. They will all have had their own successful businesses in the past and importantly, they won’t still be making their way in the world. Also, given they have already made-it in business, it’s highly unlikely that this class of business coach will be working full time.
Providing professional and personalised business coaching support to business owners / directors is quite genuinely a privilege. It’s also a highly-specialist service and it would be a shame if became any more commoditised than it already has become.
I have ‘followed’ a number of business coaches into clients businesses over the years and helped clear up the mess and problems they’ve contributed. So, I’ve seen at first hand the devastating effects on a business, its owners and families that poor quality and inexperienced business coaching and advice can have.
When I’m working with clients I very often remind myself that the livelihood of the business owners / directors, staff and their families are at stake here. Fortunately, having recognised that business coaches are not equal and can be graded from poor to excellent, my clients will have made a conscious decision to hire a professional business coach into their business.
One of my tips for selecting an effective business coach is to be clear about the type of lifestyle you aspire to – and then hire a business coach that has achieved and can demonstrate a similar lifestyle.
If it becomes clear to you that a business coach is still on their way ‘up’ and making their way in the world, or that you don’t aspire to their lifestyle, then don’t hire them; their lifestyle will be too similar to your own at this stage of your personal and business development.
Instead, hire someone who can demonstrate they have been there and done it, been successful in business and achieved the important things in life you would also like to achieve.
If you act on this tip, you will have substantially increased your chances of finding that most rare of things, a successful working relationship with a professional business coach that will help you and your business to develop and grow.