It’s rare to find a professional athlete without a top-class coach, but when it comes to the business arena, people often jump in with little training.
In Australia, more than half of new businesses fail within the first three years.
This cannot, of course, be attributed to one factor alone, but a lack of business acumen is certainly among them. Which is why you should consider bringing in a business coach.
What is a business coach?
A business coach is someone paid to help you move your venture from where it is to where you want it to be.
They have strong business credentials and typically have worked with a wide range of companies and founders. And so, if you have a problem or a challenge, chances are your business coach will have experienced a similar situation before and know how to come out on top.
When do you need one?
A coach will be helpful at any stage of the business lifecycle – whether you are trying to transform an idea into a viable business, develop a small company into a much larger one, or get it ready for a major sale.
However, according to Melbourne-based coach Bruce Frame, most owners only contact a business coach when there is a problem.
“Mostly, it’s in a time of crisis. The big three are people, time and money,” he says.
“Business owners say I am struggling to find people, I am really busy, but, at the end of the day, there is not that much money in the bank, or they need a break because they are working ridiculous hours.”
On the other end of the scale, Frame says he helps successful business founders to scale up their company, franchise it, or sell it.
How will they help?
A business coach is proactive: You tell them what you want to achieve, and they come to the table with a plan of attack.
They will also stay on your back until you implement the strategy and find a solution that works – something which Frame says is crucial, as many owners fail to do what they know they need to.
He also warns having a mentor is not a substitute. Mentors may act as role models and give advice, but they generally don’t provide well-researched strategies, nor put sufficient pressure on owners to take action.
How much does it cost?
Industry pricing varies significantly, but a good coach will generally cost between $1000 to $3000 per month.
According to Frame, “hands on” owners of merchant-style trade businesses can typically expect to pay at the lower end of the scale, but owners of complex organisations, executives, or companies facing unique problems could need to pay a lot more.
How do you pick a good business coach?
The main thing to look for is rapport.
“It’s a close working relationship so you have really got to like the person,” says Frame.
“You are going to go through difficult times and if you don’t like them you will just walk away.”
Consequently, research is crucial to finding a good business coach. Ask people you know whether they have a business coach, search online for coaches with proven track records, and ask prospective coaches for the contact details of past clients, so that you can double check the veracity of their claims.
A good coach doesn’t necessarily need to know your industry back to front, but experience with similar ventures in the sector is always helpful.
It’s important to remember, too, that when you meet prospective coaches, they’re not the only ones being interviewed.
Business coaches need to produce results, and, if they think your business idea is flawed or your goals are unrealistic, it is unlikely they will take you on as a client. So you need to come prepared.
“It’s a rarity but it does happen,” Frame says.
“There are people who have come to me and said that they want to double the profit of their business within six months. I look at it and it’s not achievable.
“The business has got to have a future, it’s got to be something scalable that can make money and grow, not something that you just want.”
Working on your own can be difficult so check out collaborative spaces on Spacely to find a strong network of peers.