The true cost of small business coaching should be a big fat zero when all is said and done and this is because any fees and time spent should pay for themselves many times over — if they don’t, then you have been working with the wrong coach.
Many coaches including myself make this claim, but there is, of course, a transition period from starting to work with a coach and actually seeing tangible results, which is the period that makes entrepreneurs and businesspeople naturally nervous because of the initial fees that going to be paid out before the results are seen.
And with so many people jumping on the coaching bandwagon these days, there are many bold coaching claims out there along with the usual horror stories experienced by hiring the wrong, or incompetent business coach or advisor.
There are 3 main ways to work with a small business coach, which I go into a little later, but the essence of any coaching arrangement is to take a person or a business from where they are today, to where they want to be in the future and to help them make better, more informed decisions, with better outcomes.
And naturally, you will expect the coach to have had a huge amount of experience in the real world of business and not a textbook, plus someone who has faced and overcome adversity, which is something that many entrepreneurs and businessmen face over the course of their business career.
Here is another perspective as to how a coach can pay for themselves and take a look at this article to see what I mean.
You have to have the right coach and that of course, is easier said than done…just like a world-class soccer club will go through millions of dollars in their quest to find the right person to lead their team to victory and where victory is usually short and sweet in terms of time…owners of small businesses are often the receivers of so much advice that they don’t know where to start and end up going it alone — potentially causing themselves more harm than good, especially in the early months from launching.
It doesn’t matter who you are, how much experience you have, or how great your business idea is — you will have a boatload of fear in you when you pull the trigger to launch your own business.
And fear is both your friend and your enemy.
When I started out in business some thirty-six years ago, I had absolutely nobody to talk to — family, friends, and acquaintances were extremely quick to tell me how I was setting myself up for failure and you can only imagine the trepidation that I had in my own mind, but the entire experience for me, was one of excitement, as I hope it is for you.
I was lucky to find a few people who helped me immensely by generously offering me their time and without any thought of compensation…but I needed more, I needed to have someone who could share my problems and challenges as they occurred, or in “real-time” and that would come with a cost, as you would expect.
Free advice is great, but it comes with another cost!
Running a small business can take up huge chunks of your life, especially in the personal sense, and having an experienced coach right by my side when I needed to sanity check my decisions, was a great comfort to me, so it is not all about business.
Running any business and even with a partner or team, is still a very lonely exercise at times.
I was out to disrupt my industry and take some market share away from the established players…Just as in the same way Richard Branson wanted to take on the “big boys” and show them how an airline and other businesses could really be run against the status quo!
For me, it felt like a “David versus Goliath” battle and there are times when I was so grateful to be able to pick up the phone to someone, no matter what the time, and share my problems — to me, this was a much greater value than having formalized meetings (which I did), where we would talk about the usual business and commercial issues that I faced.
Small business coaching: The need
With so many small business and startups failing in the first year and many not surviving beyond five, there is clearly something wrong — and this is where I believe entrepreneurs and business people need a helping hand from those who have been through the process, experienced the trials and tribulations and made it through to the other side.
But unfortunately, many of the coaching offerings that I see today, do not go deep enough into the business and mindset of their clients and simply provide a band-aid fix for a problem, or deliver programs that are too generic, inflexible, and expensive.
I am not a traditional business coach and in the sense of offering a structured coaching program, over a set period and with fixed coaching timescales — the world of business and entrepreneurship is fast-paced, dynamic and situations can occur and change in a heartbeat.
To me, the most important component of success, be it in business or anything else comes down to having the right mindset…it really comes down to how resilient you are because starting, running, and growing a small business will put most of you into uncharted territory, that will push and test your limits, plus you will have to deal with the everyday business issues that the large companies have huge departments to deal with.
Let’s get back to better decision making and with better outcomes — when you are experiencing sleepless nights for both good and bad reasons, your decision making can be compromised, and even when you think you are making the right decisions without pressure, there is an element of doubt that often creeps into your thinking.
For me, this is where I found having a coach and mentor helped me the most — today you have a ton of information available on almost any subject, thanks to the Internet, so I don’t really see a need for a coach to cover what is already out there and available, which many coaches simply copy and paste into their own formats.
Also, I do not believe in sitting down with a prospective client to work through a manual that asks endless questions serving to take up valuable time that can be put to better use.
The right coach will have a serious amount of expertise and experience; they will know what you need and will ask you simple but challenging questions so they can quickly formulate a strategy to help you with whatever your goals are.
And they will be available pretty much at your demand.
What is the true cost?
Here, I am talking about the true cost of real business coaching and as I have explained, I have little time for once-a-week or month coaching workshops or twelve-week accelerator programs that cover issues you can easily find for yourself on YouTube.
I am talking about the type of coaching that I am currently providing to a start-up in the US and that involves a daily ninety-minute call with the founder and it has been that way for over four months…and I mean every day including the days when he went on two vacations, plus over Christmas!
You may think that would cost a small fortune if you looked at some of the coaching prices you see online from the so-called gurus and experts, but it does not.
We agreed on a fee plus equity deal that made us both feel comfortable and you have basically three choices:
- A combination of both
A fee-based offering is perhaps the most common in the industry, but this is where you can get fees that are exorbitant and out of reach for many start-up entrepreneurs and small businesses.
I personally offer very reasonable fees when it comes down to helping cash-strapped start-ups and small businesses because I know only too well, the struggles these companies face because I was in those shoes.
When it comes down to equity, then it becomes more personal to the business owner because they are potentially giving away a piece of their company, but the simple formula here is to make sure that the value of the company is greater than it could have been without the support and work of the business coach.
But that creates a whole host of problems that are centered on proving the value and also ensuring that should things not work out, there is a way to break the agreement while still reflecting the value that the coach has provided up to that point (if of course, they have).
The combination of the two is self-explanatory and it is not possible to cover all of the intricacies of any agreement in this article and it would also require taking specialist advice…but you get the idea.
I have, over the years, dedicated a huge amount of my free time to helping others with business advice to cover every aspect of business and entrepreneurship…the good, bad and ugly, simply because I want to help them avoid the mistakes that I made and to capitalize on some of the more successful strategies that I employed.
Today, I still offer that service and primarily through my volunteer work with the Welsh government, and outside of that there is this blog, where I offer information for free and I have no intention of turning it into an “insiders club” or membership site when it comes down to giving business advice.
But I do charge fees if people want to take things further and those fees are entirely negotiable on a case-by-case basis, but in any event, I will guarantee that:
- I will sharpen your thinking and focus…and your profits.
- I will offer you impartial advice and look at your business from both an outsider and a customer perspective.
- I will rapidly get to the heart of your business and understand the problems and challenges you are facing, plus what you are likely to face in the future.
- I will work through each of your business functions — sales, marketing, finance, technology, support, and customer service and whether you are a traditional or online business.
- I will work with you to build profitable growth strategies.
- I will identify risks to your business and help you prevent them.
- I will be at the end of the phone should you need support at any time.
- And a whole lot more!
Now, this is not a sales pitch for my services…it’s actually what I really do and if I achieve it, then there is no cost to you because I have created the extra revenue and efficiencies to pay for them, and if I don’t then I am sure that you will not want me around.
Good coaches are also extremely conscious of maintaining their reputation and they are not going to want to fail in any way, shape, or form.
If you have decided to take the step of hiring a business coach, then it is important to make sure you have the right type of coach relevant to your business.
The goals of your business coach are just as relevant as your own and some coaches work on a part-time basis, with fixed monthly hours and no out-of-hours contact — others are part of a franchise network that requires them to pay monthly royalty fees in addition to the initial franchise fees they paid to have the right to operate the business under the name of the franchise.
Or coaches can be totally independent and answer only to themselves, like me.
These are important factors because if you are a dynamic start-up that is going for fast growth, then you need a coach who can operate in that environment, and equally, if you are running a business on the side from your main job, then your needs may not be as dynamic in both business and coaching.
The next and for me, the most important part of the process is the first interaction you have with your coach.
They need to be accessible, so pick up the phone and call them!
If you want to start with an email then that’s fine, but ultimately you need to interact with them in real-time and you can gauge a lot more from a phone call/zoom meeting than you can from an email.
And during that first interaction, pick their brains and make sure you get something from that very first phone call and if they are reluctant to spend a good amount of time, or are too cautious about providing information, then move on and find another coach.
I often spend a good hour on the first call and I will always give away a few ideas and tips — in one case, it was all the person needed and my job was done, literally before it started.
I don’t mind because it is the nature of the business and some people just need a quick jolt of energy, or a simple idea to get them on track, or back on track because they have lost their way.
Once you have selected your coach, then it is time to put together an agreement to work together and set the goals and expectations…but remember that it is your business and the responsibility to take action will remain firmly under your control and not the coach.
Good coaches will truly deliver a huge amount of value and that can come in many forms and not just profits, but they are not miracle workers.
If you want to talk further about real business coaching then get in touch with me:
Last modified: January 22, 2021