The business coaching services market is booming and one of the key questions I get asked as a business coach is:
“What exactly does a business coach do?”
For me, I focus on helping people make better, more informed decisions, and with better outcomes.
And it’s not just confined to the world of business, it impacts the person’s entire life because of course, the two are extremely interconnected — later in this article I will talk about what I am predominantly working on right now and that helping a US startup launch in the highly competitive and lucrative world of real estate.
Business coaching and mentoring is different from business consulting — when you are consulting, you are providing advice and/or performing a “done for you” service…a coach is looking to get the best out of the client and the best ones are focused on helping the client become independent rather than trying to keep a client for the longer-term monetary gain.
Just take a look at professional sportsmen, actors, musicians, and the like — why do some performers or practitioners thrive under certain coaches and fail under others?
This is the golden question and for me, it comes down to having a deep understanding of the person…what makes them tick, how can you help them overcome their fears, etc, and of course, having a great deal of subject matter expertise and experience.
I follow my own methods and tell as much or as little as I choose. That’s the advantage of being unofficial.
— Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Could you imagine harnessing the power of the great private detective, Sherlock Holmes into your world of business?
You would have access to his extraordinary powers of observation, deduction, logical reasoning, science…and instinct.
The fictional detective developed his methods of deductions as an undergraduate; his early cases which he pursued as an amateur came from fellow university students and then he met the father of one and turned professional.
The rest is fictional history.
When you look at the world of business coaching and the provision of business coaching services, you have the standard description of coaching in general, which is helping people get from where they are today, to where they want to be by improving performance and as one description puts it — using a “collaborative,” “solution focussed,” “results-orientated,” and “systematic” approach!
But what does a business coach really do when it comes down to the interaction between coach and client?
That’s what I am going to address in this article and as always, from my own experiences in the real-world of coaching and gained over thirty-five years of being an entrepreneur and businessman.
In my case as a business coach and mentor, I have changed the word “unofficial,” with regard to the Holmes quote to “independent.”
But I share the similarity of following my own methods.
Everyone and their dog seems to be jumping on the business coaching bandwagon at the moment and you certainly have a huge number of options to choose from, but beware of the scammers and those who are coaching by using in the main, other people’s systems and methodologies, rather than their own real-world business, entrepreneurial or subject-matter expertise.
When I returned to the UK unexpectedly around five years ago, due to a family issue, it gave me the time to reflect on my long business and entrepreneurial career, with the goal of working out exactly what I was going to do next.
I was contemplating re-starting my technology staffing and software business in Europe when, suddenly, I became ill and without going into the details, it took me nearly 2 years to recover and thankfully I am OK now…but during my recovery, I decided that I would now change the focus of my life and put my efforts and energies into sharing my knowledge, with the aim of helping and inspiring others.
I started with my own 3 children, who had firmly chosen their careers — my two boys are determined to be professional footballers, and my daughter, a classical singer; I learned music from the age of 7 and have been involved in martial arts and Olympic weightlifting for nearly forty years, so although I am no footballer, I do have a good idea as to how the body works and how to strengthen it.
Coaching my own children is a huge challenge as I have to balance their natural growth and development, with their education and career choices — to be a professional in anything, means a boatload of work and personal sacrifices…but I always give them control over their future and tell them that anytime they want to quit, or change direction, then I will support them.
But…they are also now part of soccer development programs and my daughter spends every Saturday learning at college, so they have to take it seriously, work hard, and be committed.
As I said, it’s a fine balancing act!
My first step into the business coaching world was to volunteer my services as a business mentor for Business Wales.
Also, I researched a ton of other options, such as buying a business coaching franchise and joining all sorts of organizations all in an attempt to find a “home” for my knowledge and experience that would speed up the process of reaching more people…but after talking to a load of people, I decided that just like Mr. Holmes, I would do things my way and retain my independent status…and have control over my own destiny.
I then decided to start this blog to give away as much free information as possible and if people want further help or advice, then they can hire me at very affordable rates that I negotiate with each person/business on a case, by case basis.
It is for this reason that I don’t publish my fee structure or offer fixed-rate programs, much to the annoyance of the gurus and “coach the coach” experts who are insistent on telling me that I am operating my business in the wrong manner and how much money I am losing as a result.
Well, I started my first recruiting and staffing business for the wrong reasons and that was to make as much money as possible and exit — the business failed and I truly believe that it was purely down to having the wrong motivation.
Coming back from that experience gave me the reason to either leave the industry and do something entirely different, or stick with it and do it properly — I loved the fact that I could help people find their ideal jobs and dream careers, plus that I would be helping large corporations find key people, so I honed in on that passion and started my next company for the right reasons.
Whatever you do, take my advice and don’t make money the most important factor — if you do what you do with passion, you will soon find your purpose and that will enable you to offer real value…and the money will follow!
Real business coaching
I use the word “real” because quite frankly, much of what I have seen and heard of in the business coaching, consulting, and the mentoring world leaves a lot to be desired — just read the “beware of the scammer’s” article to get my thoughts, but there are some great coaches and advisors out there and it is just a matter of finding them.
I have used consultants, coaches, advisors, and mentors throughout my business and entrepreneurial career and I am going to give you an overview of the qualities that were consistent with the best of them, plus, I still have mentors and advisors to this day.
I know the value of business coaching and having experienced the work of some great coaches, not just in business but in all walks of life, and I knew that when the time was right, I would finish my long career by becoming one myself, largely thanks to their inspiration.
Here are some of their key qualities:
- They were all experts in their respective fields.
- They had all experienced, navigated through, and survived tough, challenging times.
- They all had a handle on global geopolitical and economic events.
- They were able to instantly “jump into my shoes” and rapidly understand where I was in both my business and personal circumstances.
- They all put me at ease in our discussions.
- There was never a series of preliminary questions about me or my business — they knew what they needed to know either before meeting me or through their own knowledge and experience.
- They were extremely calm, relaxed, and were never “fazed” no matter how tough the problem or challenge.
- They had an aura about them, combined with what I term a “deep intensity.”
- They were all accessible and responded promptly and timely when needed.
- They were complex and sometimes extremely difficult people to deal with.
Now, that last point may seem a little contradictory considering the other points, but as I was taught by one of my martial arts instructors many years ago…the best and most talented people are usually complex in relation to their thinking, makeup, and in the way they live their lives — it’s that fine balance between genius and madness and I can tell you from my own experience, that the best people I dealt with, were also eccentric.
When you look at high-achievers, you will find behavioral patterns that don’t fit the norm — you will find rule-breakers, people who constantly challenge the status quo, and people who routinely seek to set new standards.
They are never standing still.
Business coaching services: Better outcomes
Better outcomes are the result of better and more informed decision making, as I stated at the beginning of this article and the key to the process is data.
Data is information and the more you have at your disposal, the more you can do…provided of course, that you know exactly what to do with it and this is where subject matter expertise or knowledge comes in.
Plus you have to have experience.
Many coaches are overly focussed on what I term technical issues, such as:
- Writing a business plan
- Basic bookkeeping and accounting
- Risk management
- And other things
But behind all of this is a person or people, and we humans are more often than not driven by emotions and I have found through my own life that fear is one of the most dominant ones.
When I talk about gathering data, I am talking about information on all fronts — the market as a whole, the specific industry, the business in question…and concerning the person.
Now, this is where you can tell the difference between a good coach and the rest — to be able to collate and interpret the information needed, requires a great deal of knowledge and experience, but even that in itself is not quite enough. You have to be able to relate that knowledge to the client and the situation you are working with.
If you are looking for better outcomes, you need to make sure you are covering all of the bases that will impact those outcomes.
I am working with a young serial entrepreneur who has just launched his own real estate brokerage in the US.
He was all set to follow his father in the corporate world and then turned his back on it after his entrepreneurial instincts took over and led him to learn all he could about the Internet marketing and web design industry.
Using this experience he started to market and promote events — for the corporate and luxury vacation world until he met someone who convinced him to get his real estate license and he was hooked.
The reason I am sharing his background with you is that it will help you understand my process — knowing his background and experience gives me a great insight into his thinking and I must add that for a younger entrepreneur, he is extremely calm and relaxed under pressure.
Learning about his childhood and early teenage years resonated with me because I had some similar experiences so it was easy to make a connection and next it was time to work on the business aspects.
His objective was simple — to offer a premium and personalized service to real estate customers and to also help ambitious individuals to start a career in real estate.
For the last four months, we have had a daily call that lasts a minimum of ninety-minutes…and those calls have continued through his Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, where he traveled to Mexico and they are 7 days a week!
So what on earth do we talk about for all of this time?
Initially, with this client, there was a lot of talk about his personal life and especially the early years, which totally resonated with me because I had similar experiences — this is another thing that a coach will do…they will share their own life and business experiences to help and inspire others.
When you have these types of discussions, you potentially uncover mental blocks that are holding the person back and you need to build a good degree of trust with your client.
Once I have built up a good understanding of the person and what makes them tick, I turn my attention to business matters.
Now we are in the territory of entrepreneurial disruption and that is for both me and this entrepreneur to channel our thoughts and energies into how we can take on the established names in real estate and gain market share.
This is something I have done throughout my entire business life, so it is second nature to me…but I am not the one running the business and it is essential that your coaching client develops the skills themselves.
But you, as the coach are only there to help them achieve that goal and not to do it for them…it’s about transferring re-useable principles and building frameworks.
When you make a connection with someone, you shouldn’t have any trouble interacting with them and in this case, we will talk about whatever is in his mind on the day — it could be a breakthrough that he made the day before, a business issue that has arisen or just pure technical work such as working on the copy for the website, or writing the real estate training program…there is never a shortage of conversation and this is because we are operating in real-time.
Business coaching services: Conclusion
Business, just like life in operates in real-time and you are always at the mercy of the next “situation,” whatever that may be.
Business coaching must reflect this.
Forget the endless “more profits” “10X your growth” programs that were selling for tens of thousands of dollars a few years ago and that now are given away virtually for free…running a business and especially a start-up, takes up a huge chunk of your life and you must not try to consciously separate the two.
Better and more informed decision making is the goal as far as I am concerned and this again, impacts each and every aspect of your life and a good coach will be able to gather and interpret the data and combine it with their own business and life expertise and experience to enable this.
What you are really looking for, if you are a client who is going to work with a business coach, is for someone to help you break through the barriers that are holding you back and then guide you through the technical aspects of business, to help you achieve your goals.
If you are a business coach, you have to realize that your clients will demand more…it is no longer (and never was in my opinion), about launching an “accelerator program” or charging a fixed fee for fixed hours; business is fluid and it doesn’t sleep — start to mirror the real dynamics of business and your clients will thank you for it.
I am always available to discuss all things business and life in general for that matter and if you want to talk about real-world coaching, then contact me for a free informal discussion and if you are a business coach looking to change the way you work, then let’s talk!
Last modified: January 16, 2021