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Business Coaching: An entrepreneurs guide to hiring and becoming a coach.

May 27, 2020 / Comments (0)

Business-Coaching-Entrepreneurship

This article outlines my own journey to becoming a business coach and is slightly different from the pure informational guides and resources — it is purely based on my own personal, business, and life experiences.

Business coaching is a multi-billion dollar industry…and growing rapidly.

And quite rightly so  — people want to grow their companies and themselves for that matter.

They want fast, profitable growth and to be the very best they can be, not to mention the fact that they want to live the life of their dreams…and on their own terms.

A good business coach will accelerate that process and pay for themselves many times over…so hiring a coach should be a “no brainer” and I truly believe that business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives will routinely hire coaches.

It is easy to see the attraction of business coaching and let’s talk about the subject of coaching in general for a moment and take a look at this article, to read about some of the billionaires and celebrities who have used coaches.

The term “coach” actually originated in Oxford University in the 1830s as a slang term for a tutor who helped students through exams and the word “coaching” is now about transporting people from where they are to where they want to be, which involves some form of transformation and an improvement in overall performance.

Oxford-University=Origin-of-the-term-coach

Fast forward to today and we are in unprecedented times — in today’s uncertain, volatile, and technology-dominated economy, speed is of the essence and we are in a hypercompetitive world — there is always someone ready to eat your lunch and let’s also not forget that at the time of writing this article, we are in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic, which has posed a serious threat to both our health and the global economy.

So we need all the help we can get to make sure we are successful in transforming both our businesses and lives.

In this article, I am going to go deep into the world of business coaching and this will be particularly useful for:

  • Business owners of start-ups and small to medium enterprises (SME’s) who want to scale their companies.
  • Senior executives who want to improve their performance and stay more marketable in the 21st century.
  • Existing and aspiring business coaches who want a different perspective of the industry.

I have enjoyed the benefit of good coaches and mentors, as well as having hired many consultants and advisors over the years to grow my business and to grow myself.

I know first hand about the tremendous successes of having your own business, as well as the dark side — the sense of loneliness, the uncertainty, and the feedings of self-doubt that can force you into periods of doom and gloom.

These feelings can come at any time in business, not just in bad times, and let’s not forget the more standard business problems that can cause monumental headaches and frustration.

Sometimes all you need in life is to be able to talk to someone — other times you may need to bounce a few ideas around with someone who you trust and then there are the times you need specific help to overcome a tough and challenging problem.

I want to use my own personal experiences because it will give you real-world experience and you can see how my own coaching methodologies were formulated and evolved.

I have been in business since the age of nineteen and I am now fifty-six — I have experience in a wide range of industries and have built several businesses — I am now a business coach, mentor, consultant and advisor and you can read my bio here.

As a self-made entrepreneur, I have deliberately not included corporate coaching here, as I believe it is a slightly different animal, although, in my opinion, many senior corporate executives could benefit hugely from the benefit of being more entrepreneurial in their thinking.

As for executive coaching, I have been in the staffing services business for thirty-five years and I have worked with some of the world’s largest corporations, locating key expertise, often at very short notice.

I have also directly marketed technology and other specialists to the companies that could best utilize, develop, and challenge their skills, creating many opportunities in the process.

In my current role, I now find myself encountering a variety of people and businesses, which allows me to put all of my knowledge and expertise to good use.

A word of warning…the business coaching industry is unregulated and although there are certain regulatory bodies, there is no requirement for a coach to belong to any of them. This is not necessarily a bad thing because there are some very good coaches out there, but you have to be on your guard and wary of the unscrupulous marketing techniques of some, especially on the Internet.

Here is an example — in the USA, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), two years ago, obtained a court order halting a business coaching scheme and I think there will be more to come.

Before I go deeper into coaching itself, it is important to cover the economic landscape of today and any business, executive or coach must understand the dynamics of where we are right now, how the future could play out and the entire basis of my business and coaching philosophy is centered on being predictive, pro-active and with a focus on being able to survive.

As I will explain.

Business coaching — a new business era

We are entering a new business era and one that should both excite and frighten us!

The digital era is firmly upon us and we are now moving firmly into the quantum era — one where at least conceptually, everything and anything is possible.

Why on earth you might ask, am I bringing quantum physics and mechanics into an article about business coaching?

Well, it is a lot more relevant than you think.

Business-coaching-we-are-entering-a-new-business-era

Having been in the technology industry for most of my business life, I am well aware of what was once a dream, becoming a firm reality — and also that nothing really stays the same.

The ability to communicate on a mobile device, was once a desire in our minds and now we can run entire companies from that same concept, so you should now that everything and anything is possible.

The reality is that so many people are unaware of where we are, technology-wise, today and that includes the many people I coach and mentor, as well as the other business coaches I meet.

How are you going to coach and mentor a business if you are simply unaware of the technology landscape today and the potential future impact of that technology?

If you are a business, then how do you prepare for that and as a business coach, you have to be thinking in quantum terms right now.

You have to be prepared for any eventuality and have the ability to adapt and change in a heartbeat.

Anything goes!

I am always looking to the future and if I am working with a software company, for example, I am always thinking of how others would try to make that software obsolete?

And then to defend that scenario, what technology could be implanted to make it invaluable?

If I am working with an artisan food producer, then I would be looking at what technology could be used to automate any systems and processes, plus how to efficiently connect with, sell to and support the customers.

We are in a world of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and soon we will experience quantum computing.

Now we can add a couple of other technologies into the mix such as 3-D printing and blockchain and you can start to build the picture.

The business landscape has changed and one of the pivotal roles of a business coach is to help companies prepare for, and embrace that change…a business coach needs to be just as science-savvy as they are fluent in the human components of business coaching.

In my “old” world, I would routinely plan my business revenues and survival in the immediate 3 months.

Business-economy-new-technologies-3D-printing

Many people thought I was crazy and they told me the importance of 3 and even 5-year business plans that would become the benchmarks of their strategic lives and this was back in the 1990s — as an entrepreneur, I would always think that I was lucky if I could survive the next 3 monthly payrolls and I would joke with my business partner as to how much revenue we would need to give us that surety.

I was always ultra-conservative in my thinking and today 3 months is more like 3 weeks!

As a business, you should be continually evaluating everything and the problem with today’s economic landscape is that it is so uncertain and so volatile, which is where I began with this section.

Ultimately, I believe we will be replaced by machines — the movies are becoming reality and the only thing I don’t know is when…and that is the part that frightens me…

But I think it will not be in the mine or the next lifetime.

If you are a business, then I hope I have stimulated your thinking and if you are a business coach, then you know what you need to do to keep yourself in the game — if you are an aspiring business coach, then you have a head start…if of course, you get and believe what I am saying!

Introduction to business coaching

Business coaching is all about transformation and whether you are a business owner looking to increase your revenues, whilst maintaining your profits, or an executive who is looking to fast-track your career, then in today’s economy you need all the help you can get and if for no other reason than your competitors might be receiving that help!

A business coach will help you affect that transformation and broadly speaking, they will provide an all-important and impartial set of “eyes and ears,” to view things from an outside perspective.

Coaching-outside-viewing-perspective

Just think of a soccer team and you would expect that at the highest level and where players’ wages bills could rival some of the revenues of some countries economies, that the players, who are highly-trained individuals could work out the tactics to win a match by themselves.

Unfortunately, that is not the case and it requires an entire team of coaches to work incessantly to provide the strategy, tactics, training and eating programs and still there is no guarantee of success due to the extremely high standards of player ability and of course, fierce competitiveness.

So just think about that for a moment and remember we are dealing with professional athletes, who spend the majority of their time training, recovering and refueling for the main event and still need the expertise of a coach to motivate, guide and bring out the best in them.

Just apply the above to the average business person to see where I am going with this and then take into account that most start-ups fail in the first year and the numbers of companies that are successful during the first five years are still painfully low.

And for time-starved executives who are working long hours to combat the ultra-competitiveness of the business world today, there is the problem of staying employed as well as having the right skill-sets, attitude and ability to survive in a cut-throat job world.

At first glance, business coaching is expensive and some coaches can command eye-watering fees, but in reality, the right business coaching will pay for itself many times over and it is a very wise investment — outside of most of the nice cars you would love to get your hands on, that will in no doubt, give you hours of pleasure, but will rarely improve your bank balance.

Way back in the 1980s, when I began my entrepreneurial journey, business coaching was unheard of…at least to me anyway.

I had to beg, steal, or borrow information, a the saying goes, and combined with my total lack of formal education, beginning the journey was not an easy one.

Business-coaching-similar-to-soccer-coaching

Thankfully, I did meet some very key people and actually by pure chance, who helped me immensely in my business and entrepreneurial career, so I know first hand about the benefits of coaching as well of the pain that is experienced through a lack of help, support, and guidance that can easily plunge you into darkness in the often lonely world of running a business.

Let’s firstly define business coaching and this definition from the World Association of Business Coaches will give you the idea.

So as I have already said at the beginning of this article the role of a coach is to take someone from where they are, to where they want to be.

And this is so evident in the world of sport where a coach can literally make or break a team or individual sportsperson.

If you take some of the worlds leading soccer clubs and in the USA, NFL football teams, you know that coaches are hired and fired in a heartbeat and some last many years such as Sir Alex Fergusson, the former coach of Manchester United.

Interestingly enough with regard to Fergusson, his successful record of coaching one of the leading soccer clubs in the world gathered a lot of interest from the business world and he was to be appointed to teach in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programs.

“Steve Jobs was Apple; Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United,” says the club’s former chief executive David Gill.

So you can see the inter-relationship between the various types of coaching and it is always good to bring in fresh-thinking to any organization and also to attend events where you can hear motivational speakers.

There are many ways to receive coaching and also to coach others — for example, I learned a huge amount about both business and personal development from senior ranking military officers, as we were fighting on battlefields long before we were discussing the latest corporate strategy in boardrooms.

Here is an old, but a relevant article from Business Insider:

“33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win In Business.”

Many people are flocking to the world of business coaching and this is a double-edged sword — great in the sense that people are recognizing the importance of helping people achieve their dreams, goals and objectives and bad because many of these coaches are simply not up to the job.

But without question, the demand for business coaching is growing quickly and for the right people, there are a huge array of high-paying and rewarding opportunities.

And to finish off this section, you can read this article from HubSpot, where you can take a look at their view of the 22 Best Business Coaching Services of 2020.

My business coaching philosophy

Neil-J-C-Franklin-Business-Coaching-Philosophy

 

I have coached people through all of my business life — before I became a business coach I would often help out other entrepreneurs and friends, just as they would always help me.

We are all coaches at heart and even my twelve-year-old son, Samuel, who has set a firm goal since the age of 7 to be a professional soccer player, is just as fascinated by coaching, tactics, and training methods as he is about playing the game.

He will study games from years ago and use his soccer coaching whiteboard to create and model different situations, regarding player positions, formations and then come running up to me with his prediction of how the game would have turned out, had they had “coach Sam”!

He also loves to watch videos on youtube about the various special forces soldiers from different countries and is fascinated by the training methods, especially how they learn how to survive in the toughest and most challenging environments.

It is the fusion of the two raw qualities of predictability and survival that has shaped my own coaching philosophy and there were two pivotal moments in my business life that cemented my thinking and started the process of refining it into a methodology.

Ultimately, you want to be your own coach and not have the dependency on others — this will help you develop the mindset to keep acquiring new knowledge as well as learning the building blocks of predictability.

But all this is useless if you do not have the ability to survive and never quit.

Here are the two points in question and I talk about survival a little later;

  1. I was fortunate to have met a former creative director of the advertising giants Saatchi and Saatchi (the original) who shaped my creative marketing and sales philosophy that propelled me ahead of my competition.
  2. When I learned about the sciences of operations research(OR). and later,  AI.

Creativity is one of the power-houses of success and it gives you as an individual, the freedom to express yourself in any way you choose — music, the arts, sport…and of course business.

I learned to think more creatively and then put creativity into my core skillsets — sales and marketing.

It gave me an edge over my competition for sure and learning how one of the greatest advertising agencies in the world approached the process of client engagement was a real eye-opener.

Then I learned about the world of applied mathematics and the science of OR.

Putting creativity and science together was a dream for me and this is why I believe that business coaching has to re-invent itself a predictive business and mindset modeling.

We have to think about the future and work in anticipation as today has already occurred.

Every business coach needs their own business philosophy and methodology and mine has come from my own entrepreneurial and business experiences, which saw me build a global staffing business from a living room in South London to a multi-million dollar global business.

You can read my story here.

My road to success was not an easy one, but it allowed me to shape my entrepreneurial thinking as well as hone my business skills, which I ultimately used to develop my own coaching systems and methodologies.

If you are a business coach then you will have no doubt done the same as you will want to differentiate yourself from your competition and if you are looking for a coach, then you need to establish both their skills competence levels and their real-world experience as in my opinion, with the latter, there is nothing better.

There is an article in Forbes magazine that states: “Why (Most) Business Coaching Is a Waste Of Time.”

The first thing you pick up from the article is that many business coaches are focussed on the subjects of mindsets, motivation, and emotions rather than implementing proven best-practice systems, strategies, and action steps that will actually grow a business.

I am talking about a section from the article here — I agree and disagree to a point as I can both see the influence of what you may term ” lifestyle coaching” as opposed to what I call “technical coaching, ” which I will talk about later and the fact that as a coach, you will by default, affect both personal and business performance.

The ultimate answer is that it must combine the two — every business has a person(s) and therefore you are dealing with human nature and qualities, but the writer is correct in the sense that focussing solely on what you can describe as emotional intelligence (EQ), can overpower the real and technical issues of developing and growing a business.

In my role as a business coach and mentor, I help solve the tough and challenging problems that keep people awake at night.

I am rapidly able to assess a situation and in seconds, I am “computing” various solutions and outcomes — good and bad.

Business-Coaching-Emotional-Intelligence

It might sound crazy and in a way somewhat arrogant…but I do not need to ask a multitude of questions because I can pretty much guarantee that I know the mindset of an entrepreneur and businessman and through my staffing experience, I can understand the career frustrations of many executives.

When I am selling to my clients and at the highest executive levels, I do my homework and I make sure I don’t ask questions that I could have easily found out the answers to.

That would be wasting valuable time — instead I talk in a manner that gives an assurance to the client that I both know and understand their business deeply.

You can read about how I conduct research to prepare for high-level executive meetings and also  my sales training philosophy in this article, “Ultimate sales training to help you become a key influencer.”

In the world of business coaching, I do the same — but I don’t have to get into the mindset of an entrepreneur or businessman, because I am one and because I have a good knowledge of world economics, geopolitical events and conduct regular research, it is easy for me to understand the impact on various industries.

I also know first hand the pain, the frustration, and also how to break through the barriers and solve those complex problems…and I have learned to survive.

But it has taken me thirty-five years to get to this position and I have truly lived the rollercoaster ride of the entrepreneur and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Predictive business and mindset modeling

In the aftermath of the technology bubble burst in the early 2000s, I co-founded what was to become a technology software company, that would analyze mobile communications networks and predict and re-engineer potential “hot spots.”

Business-Coaching-Predictive-Mathematical-Modeling

The basis of the technology was OR and later, AI — these two disciplines would re-shape my whole approach to business and now business coaching.

The essence of operations research is to use mathematical modeling to make bolder and better decisions, with better outcomes — time-starved executives would be able to use a subject that was traditionally hated in schools to now benefit their decision making.

Mathematics doesn’t lie and it is the creation of mathematical models in business that allow executives to “play” with real and artificial scenarios and test outcomes.

Now add the component of artificial intelligence and you are now enabling machines to do the thinking and scenario planning — an oversimplification I know, but you must understand where this is heading and with the power of quantum computing you are now beyond your wildest technology dreams.

But we humans created this technology (or so we believe) and therefore we have to look closer at two critical human components:

  1. Instinct.
  2. The human brain.

Instinct is something we are born with and you only have to look at the “nature-nurture” debate in psychology to understand where I am going with this.

With regard to the human brain then you should take a look at the work of Prof. Lars Muckli, who talks about the brain being predictive in nature and not simply reactive to events and also this article by Prof. Lisa Feldman Barrett.

Now please stay with me on all this because I want all of you businessmen, executives and existing/potential business coaches to understand how in my opinion, the future of business will be conducted…and I must stress that it is just my opinion!

Just imagine how effective you could be when you combine the innate quality of human survival and the predictive brain.

The other component to consider is the mindset — people always tell you to develop a “strong mind,” but very few are able to tell you how to do it.

I explain to people when it comes down to coaching that eighty-percent of business success comes down to your mindset and that the remaining twenty-percent is down to taking action.

But you have to put in one-hundred-per-cent into that action!

Survival

I have learned over the years that in, business, it is not about winning or losing…but learning how to survive, as there is one thing for certain in the business world and that is you are at some point, going to be “tested.”

But the key to winning is to first learn how to survive.

The best businessmen and entrepreneurs are natural survivors and never quit, no matter what.

If you don’t, try to win, you cannot lose — first learn how to survive and don’t get me wrong, survival in my mind is far from “passive.”

You have to actively and aggressively look for opportunities and turn those opportunities into success.

I have survived 3 recessions and some other extremely tough and challenging situations that would stress the strongest of entrepreneurs and this is because I have learned how to survive in a “rough sea.”

Now as I said earlier, I always look for inspiration from outside of the business world and I get mine from many sources.

Business-Coaching-Outside-Inspiration

I have studied martial arts longer than I have been in business, plus I am a musician, just to give you very different fields to start with — I also come from a military family and I love to cook.

Reading is another hobby of mine and when you have spent as many hours on a plane that I have, you need to pass the time and it gave me so many opportunities to learn about how other people think.

I am an entrepreneur at heart and I have so many business experiences to share with you over my thirty-five-year career and with my main business being in the world of global technology and other staffing services, I know a thing or two about careers and helping people land their dream jobs.

These were pivotal points for me and I was now able to put everything together and distill it into a methodology that I have benchmarked and will continue to refine.

Let me give some more insight and I will start with how I became focussed on survival:

I had studied martial arts for a long time and the reason was that I was bullied at school and desperately wanted to learn to defend myself…as you would expect.

I went through the grades of martial arts and in the traditional sense of white belt, blue belt, orange belt, etc.

But I was totally disillusioned with the arts when I first had to defend myself after learning — and it didn’t work!

Russia

I could not understand why my crisp, fast, and well-rehearsed techniques did not work in the real world.

Now many martial artists would tell you that it is the person behind the art and not the belt, that matters…but for most of us who learn, we believe that the grading systems are there to establish proficiency.

In business, I have seen many business graduates enter the world and fail miserably, because the classroom techniques, whilst providing a firm understanding of the language of business is very different from the real world, where the unexpected is almost a daily event.

Steve Morris, the legendary martial artist, although that term does him a massive injustice in some ways because, his thinking, abilities, and approach to everything would earn the respect of the best philosophers, scientists, and coaches taught me how to “survive in a rough sea, ” as well as generate tremendous speed and power and later, my experiences when I traveled to Moscow to learn Russian martial arts.

The Russian emphasis on survival was explained to me that if you are on a military operation, for example, the success of that operation is paramount, just as it is with any military operation and with martial arts, you must first learn to survive an attack — be it from a fist, knife, gun, stick or whatever and then through survival, you will uncover opportunities.

This is not a “passive survival” mentality — just like two boxers who come out in the first round of a grudge match and one tries desperately to knock out the other, but the other plays a smarter game, like a chess match, waiting for the opportunity to capitalize on the other’s mistake and when having to survive the initial onslaught, there is a sense of “survival purpose.”

In business, too many people are playing a “sprint” race, when they should be playing the game of a middle-distance runner.

Notice I didn’t say “marathon” here — some races are far too long!

But middle distance running requires speed, thought, strategy, tactics and of course, endurance.

In another example where I was cooking for two highly experienced Italian chefs, I had made a mistake and had to rectify a stock that had boiled dry! There was no way I would make an excuse and I simply had to improvise with the remains of the bones in the stockpot, some wine, and a few seasonings.

You get the idea!

To get ahead of your competition, as a business owner or coach, you have to have so much more knowledge and bigger, more wide-ranging thinking than your competitors.

Then you have to out-work them.

Business-Coaching-Having-The-Right-MindsetMy friend and Internal martial arts teacher Chris Ray Chappell has spent most of his life learning martial arts, particularly internal martial arts, ballet, and acting, he was also a former student of Steve Morris.

Having learned a few of the ballet strengthening exercises I can now appreciate how hard it is and the internal and external strength of ballerinas!

Alongside my martial arts practice, I competed in Olympic Weightlifting, and between the two sports, I managed to severely damage my hip to the extent that twenty years ago, I was diagnosed as needing a total hip replacement.

Being a gung-ho person and extremely stubborn, I decided that I would not have the operation and do what was necessary to avoid it, but over time I was unable to walk without the use of a cane.

After a few sessions with Chris, who provided me with a series of exercises I was able to lose the cane!

Chris believes that the secret to controlling the mind is to work through the body and for me it was the simple practice of “standing meditation” that helped me develop both internal and external strength and also focus and strengthen my mind.

Chris was a long-time student of a world-famous martial artist, Bruce Frantzis and you can get an idea form the video below:

 

I believe that everyone should do this as it is extremely counter-intuitive — you actually learn more about “movement” by actually standing still, as opposed to moving itself!

I will leave the explanations to Chris but let me assure you it is not easy — I was shaking like crazy and just after a few minutes and I have also witnessed others without any injuries do the same, even some strong athletes.

Whatever you do, you have to test yourself and for me it was always getting out of my comfort zone — wearing no coat in the winter, taking cold showers in the morning and also dousing myself in ice-cold water… the Russian way.

Not to mention the odd vodka or six!

It is up to you.

How to choose a business coach

Business coaching-choosing-a-business-coach

 

The scene-setting at the beginning of this article and my philosophy should go a long way to help you decide who you wish to coach you.

Make sure that you speak to anyone offering business coaching before you engage with them, especially those offering online coaching — it is essential that you get an initial feel who you are dealing with and beware of the sales pitches, the process should be a natural one and you should feel at ease immediately.

But I want to add some more parts to the process here and it is more on an emotional level.

I categorize coaches in two ways:

  1. Technical.
  2. Entrepreneurial.

Technical coaches to me,  are pure subject matter experts who bring valuable information to the table — they may have come from a corporate background and have spent their careers working in single or multiple capacities such as sales and marketing, finance, mergers and acquisitions, technology, risk management, administration, and support and human resources.

They will bring a structured approach and discipline to the table, in line with their knowledge and expertise and this type of coach will suit many businessmen and entrepreneurs, who need this type of discipline.

The entrepreneurial coach will bring a sense of “entrepreneurial spirit, thinking…and  little chaos!”

They are disruptive and fearless in nature and will be a constant source of ideas, pushing the boundaries and you to the limits, simply because they have none!

They will challenge the status quo and never accept the word “no.”

I am an entrepreneurial coach by nature, but have learned the importance of technical coaching and can perform that function, but my bias is to the entrepreneurial side.

I am going to keep this relevant to my personal  experiences because I have hired and worked with many people who fall into the categories of the following terms “business coaching,” “consulting,” “mentoring,” “business advisor” and “non-executive director.”

Inspiration, resonation, and transformation

Firstly, the person concerned must inspire me and that may be because they have been supremely successful in their life (that of course, depends on your own personal definition of success), or they may have overcome the biggest adversity in their life.

And everything in-between.

Inspiration in this context will usually come down to how passionate they are when describing their lives — passion is infectious and I am not exempt from that kind of infection!

Next comes resonation — I must be able to understand and empathize with the story and that will involve the person going deeper into their experiences and expertise in life…but also their ability to make sure that I understand the relevance to me personally.

Business-coaching-inspiration

This is a serious skill in itself — it’s one thing to have a story and another to be able to get people to resonate with that story.

The final part is a natural conclusion — if of course, they have had the “buy-in” from the first two components and that will create some form of transformation.

I use the term “some form” because transformation can be a variable — no coach can ever force you to do anything and you have to have the self-motivation to do the work required, which is why the results will always vary.

But the best coaches and mentors can motivate you beyond belief.

Interconnection

The ability to recognize that each and every component part of a business is interconnected is of paramount importance to any business coach and before you think this is obvious, let me explain:

There are many coaches out there who specialize in business niches — such as online marketing, sales, traditional marketing, technology, finance, human resources, etc.

This is especially true when you look at the online coaching world and especially if the coach has bought an online “coach the coach,” or similar programs that usually run for twelve weeks and promise increased revenues for the coach as well as being an authority in the marketplace.

There is nothing wrong with this by the way and it is good advice from a marketing perspective, because you can laser focus, but it may not be the best idea when it comes down to the business itself.

I coached and mentored one company and the owner had hired a sales trainer, with the objective of recruiting five new salespeople to double revenues within the next year.

I came in during the latter part of the process as it wasn’t working too well…in fact, it was rapidly turning into a nightmare!

A quick look at the accounts showed that cash flow was a critical issue and the owner was pumping in a serious amount of money to fund the program, pay for the trainer, and of course the salaries and recruitment costs of the salespeople.

The owner initially wanted me to work with the salespeople and help turn them around, but my focus shifted to the totally overlooked area of credit management.

The company was not getting its invoices paid on time and not checking the creditworthiness of its customers and was instead simply focussing on generating sales invoices. Additionally, the credit controller had no real strategy of credit control and simply relied on emails to chase clients who in some cases were ninety days over terms.

This situation was there before the hiring of the sales trainer and the recruitment of the sales team and had simply become much worse over time.

Business-coaching-business-functions-are-interconnected

So the team was reduced to two, the trainer was gone and the first thing to do was to teach the credit controller how to sell!

You would be amazed at the effectiveness of this and within a couple of weeks, clients were paying because now the credit controller had started to build relationships with her customers and although there were a few bad debts and some customers were not creditworthy enough to deal with, the overall picture started to look much more healthy.

So you can see here the interconnectivity between sales, credit management, and finance — and it was not only those functions that were disconnected in this particular business.

The company had in my opinion, spent too much money investing in technology that was premature, because the owner had a passion for a few gadgets, to put it mildly! There was nothing that could be done with this aspect as the money was spent, but a lesson was learned.

Now the only reason I could very quickly understand the problems, was because they happened to me…in exactly the same way — I thought I could sell my way out of anything and generate enough cash to make the problem of cashflow go away…but even if you are successful, you are only putting a band-aid on the issue.

So make sure your coach understands the importance and interconnectivity of each and every business function and not in a textbook fashion but from real-world experience.

Final selection

It is vital that you connect with your coach and as you would expect, so make sure you have an initial call with who you select, even if that coach is an online coach.

I would make a shortlist of say, three coaches, talk to each of them, and then go with the one that you not only connect with but gives you the best “feeling.”

It is vital that you use your instinct and you would also expect me to now talk about obtaining references.

But, I am going to tell you that they are largely a waste of time!

Having been in the staffing services industry for thirty-five years, you very quickly learn that references are not worth the paper they are written on and in today’s litigious world, people are very wary of giving them in the first place and many companies when it comes down to a providing a reference, will only confirm dates of employment.

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Also, it is very easy to have many people write you good references and testimonials, and unless they are from someone very significant, like Paul Pook, who has a reference from Vladimir Putin.

Paul is a fellow coach and we actually mentor each other — he used to be the strength and conditioning coach for the Irish national rugby team and was part of the team that guided them to victory in the 2009 six nations rugby grand-slam victory.

And you can take a look at the testimonial from Mr. Putin on his website and Paul uses a combination of science and his own methodologies to help people sustain high-performance by improving energy levels, health, and wellbeing.

I would suggest you look at the credibility of your coach in the first instance, then arrange a call and go with your instinct.

Finally, you want to make sure your coach has experienced adversity — it is essential that they have been through rough times and survived and also made some serious mistakes of their own — that is how they will be able to stop you from making the same.

How to become a business coach

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I hope you get the sentiment of the words above and here I am trying to show you the passion that you must have if you want to become a business coach and in fact, the passion required if you want to do anything!

Becoming a coach is fundamentally about helping people and that, in my opinion, should be your first goal.

In my entrepreneurial, coaching and mentoring life, I have always strived to help people and without any requirement for anything in return — now on many occasions, this act of help, has not been appreciated and also forgotten, but it is my pure passion for the industry as a whole, that drives me forward and with the knowledge that eventually, I will find the right people who I will resonate with…as I talk about below.

Too many business coaches are eager to “close on the first date,” and that simply shows the prospective client that the coach is money-driven — don’t be one of them!

Also, some are very keen to put people into a sales funnel, which assumes that all things are equal in terms of processes and procedures and that your business and coaching needs will fit into that funnel.

There is nothing wrong with a sales funnel, but some marketers, especially the online ones will make you “sing to their tune,” rather than follow the dynamics of business.

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I offer all of my clients 24/7 access to me and that is because the world of business operates 24/7 and also that tough and challenging problems do not adhere to timescales.

I expect a little “reasonableness” here and I nobody so far, has taken advantage.

If I am here to help you solve the problems and challenges that keep you awake at night, then it follows that I should be able to live “in your shoes” and especially when you are paying me to do so!

Make sure you not only understand the problems of your clients but that you articulate to them, that you will be there with them as much as possible.

This is extremely important.

So now let’s work through some of the steps involved in becoming a business coach.

Audit your skills

Here, I am not talking just talking about your professional or business skills, but about everything you have learned over your life.

You can see from my story, that I have so many other passions alongside entrepreneurship and business — and how they have all influenced my life and thinking.

Coaching is about firstly connecting with people and whatever type of coaching you do, you will be dealing with people.

People have the same fears and emotions — it’s how they deal with them that counts.

In your life so far, no matter how long you have lived, you have overcome some challenges and dealt with some tough scenarios — add these to your business experience and you are well on your way to defining your business coaching offering.

I talk about this in more detail in my article, “How To Become A Linchpin At Work And Be The Best Employee.”

You are taking all of your skills, experiences, and learning to create your own unique value proposition that will compel people to buy from you.

And there is an extremely simple way to get this message out quickly and with very little cost…

Start a blog

One of the first things I would suggest you do and I am saying this pretty much in every post these days is to start a blog.

With more and more people getting online, you will be able to reach a huge audience from all over the globe, simply by starting a blog, sharing your knowledge and helping people.

One word of warning though — don’t do as many people do and simply regurgitate information — you have to help people and be prepared to give away your knowledge for free.

You can talk to my friend and online everything mentor, Fernando Raymond, and take a look at his web-hosting company, Seekahost, plus his online education platform.

It was Fernando that inspired me to start this blog and who also coaches and mentors me regarding the specifics of online marketing — whilst I have been involved in the online world since inception, it was from the point of being a business owner and CEO, so I had people doing the nitty-gritty work.

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Now it is time for me to learn the detail!

You can read here about why I started my blog and on the WordPress platform, to give you more of an idea.

But there is nothing to lose by starting a blog and everything to gain — each day you leave it, you are a day away from being seen online, just think of it that way and it is also very easy to start and requires very little money.

Once you have started your blog or at the very least, developed your online presence with a website, then you can start to market your services, and here is where you need to look at the offerings from Fernando Raymond, or someone similar and I will leave the finer points of online marketing as far as this article is concerned to them.

Please beware of the online marketers who offer you “coach the coach” services — some are good and some are beyond all belief with regard to the false promises that they make and the so-called “guarantees.”

Nothing is easy in life and everything worth having and doing well requires hard work and dedication.

If you are interested in looking at one of the good guys who helps coaches become an authority in their market and also someone who really practices what they preach, then take a look at Rob Stewart.

Rob is a former fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and is really committed to helping people improve their lives.

By the way, I receive no commissions and am not affiliated with Rob or any others I mention in this article.

Independent coaching

I am an independent business coach and mentor and that means that I am tied to no person or organization.

The methodologies I have developed have come purely from a real-world perspective and what works…at least for me.

My whole coaching philosophy has been devised, developed, and tested by me and it’s the way I like it, but you don’t have to follow my way, and please don’t think I limit my own learning just to my own experiences because I don’t.

I am constantly evolving, learning and never stand still…but I always test my knowledge in the real-world, and discard what doesn’t work before I pass it on.

I do this pretty much each and every day of my life.

Get a business coaching qualification

For some people, who feel they need to go through a more formalized and structured learning process, it is a good idea to obtain a relevant qualification.

There are many organizations out there offering qualifications and one such organization is the BCF Group or you can look at the International Coach Federation, who doesn’t offer coaching programs as such but accredits programs that deliver coach training.

There are a lot of choices out there.

Please remember, before you spend your hard-earned money that qualifications in no way guarantee success and there are many well-qualified coaches who are not successful.

Buy a franchise

There are many business coaching franchises out there and here are a few:

Action Coach.

Business Doctors.

UK Business Mentoring.

Chrysalis Partners.

The above franchise models offer an entry into the world of business coaching that may be useful for people who want to join forces with an established brand and established systems and processes.

I have not delved deep enough to evaluate the companies mentioned, but I will give you my own opinion of franchising and the factors I would consider.

Franchising for me is about buying into a trusted brand where the hard work — branding and marketing awareness has been done for you and you pay a franchise fee in return for the use and benefit of that brand.

Now beyond this, there are the systems, processes, procedures, and the technology behind them, that give you a seamless link between the brand and the operational execution of the business itself, which is why for the right franchise, you would have no problem paying the fees and subsequent royalty payments.

A great example is a franchise from McDonald’s.

This is a perfect example of brand awareness and seamless operation and the franchise operator follows proven and time -tested systems and procedures, with not having to worry about marketing, sales, or promotions.

It is also clear how you can expand and open other franchised locations and their success rate is extremely high.

However, it is not an easy franchise to obtain and the selection criteria are rigorous…as it should be and the franchise fee is substantial, because the returns are as guaranteed as they can be in any business model.

A good franchise will also create a  seamless experience with the end-user as I have mentioned and when you buy a Big Mac and fries, do you care or even know if the location you are buying from is a franchised one or not?

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The pricing structure is also key — McDonald’s creates a pricing structure for all of their franchisees and the customer is again, kept out of the process, and only has to think about what they want to order and what promotional offers they can take advantage of.

Also, when the customer hands over the cash, they have the surety of handing it over to a trusted brand, and also if they have any complaints there is the added surety of being able to take up their grievances with a huge corporation.

The process form brand awareness, ordering, enjoying (or not as the case may be), is seamless.

Lastly, let’s consider the location of the franchise and what is termed a “territory.”

The McDonald’s franchise location is carefully selected based upon demographics and a host of other factors and the franchise operator is genuinely getting an exclusive territory — McDonald’s wants each franchise to succeed as failure will damage their brand reputation.

Take a look at the British Franchise Association for more information and to take it a little wider, the International Franchise Association.

Now you can use the McDonalds example as a benchmark for buying a franchise, but remember that we are talking about an industry that is fairly predictable — we all eat and many people enjoy fast food.

All I would say to anyone buying a franchise is to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are buying and delve into the detail.

Conclusion

Business coaching is an extremely lucrative and fast-growing industry and one that is attracting a lot of attention.

The economic landscape has changed dramatically and to operate and survive in the business world today, requires agility, adaption, and the ability to constantly research and refine business strategy, systems, processes, and procedures.

Research is key.

You must be able to constantly keep abreast of dynamics and trends.

From here you must learn how to predict them.

Technology is an “enabler” and will transform the world as we know it, especially as we move more into a “quantum” world, where everything is probable and possible.

Traditional coaching methods will have to adapt in line with the above and it will no longer be enough to simply “sell” a set of systems, processes, and methodologies — coaches must have the human touch and with a deep understanding of existing and future technologies, coupled with the ability to be predictive in nature and proactive with their approach.

Most importantly, a good business coach will firstly understand that survival in business is the key to winning.

It is only through being able to survive in the toughest and most challenging conditions, that it enables you to build the resilience needed to operate in a volatile, dynamic, and ever-changing global economy.

To your coaching success and from whatever side of the business coaching spectrum you are in!

Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin-Entrepreneur

Last modified: May 29, 2020

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