Should You Hire A Small Business Coach?

Ever feel like you’re stuck? Your business is chugging right along but you can’t seem to make it over the hill to that next level. Meanwhile, your competitors are moving forward, leaving you behind. Maybe it’s time to get some help from a small business coach. Decide for yourself by learning more about this resource and what they can (and can’t) do for your business.

What Is A Small Business Coach?

These individuals guide small business owners through a process to achieve a goal the owner sets. You might work on areas like strategic planning, increasing sales, leadership, improving productivity or managing staff. Ideally, they have experience running a business so they help clarify goals, offer feedback, and identify obstacles.  

Together, the coach and owner develop an action plan and checkpoints to address the issue. Then they meet on a periodic basis to review progress and adjust as needed. That’s where the coach plays a key role—holding the owner accountable.

What It’s Not

Small business coaches don’t provide you with the answers, they facilitate them. They ask questions that guide you to find your own answers. That means you need to come armed with information and a willingness to confront difficult issues. The payoff is you’re developing problem-solving skills that can be used to tackle future challenges, as well your current ones.

In addition, coaches don’t guarantee results. Instead, you determine the outcome based on what you’re willing to put into it. Think of it like an Olympic athlete training for a race. Their coach guides them but ultimately it’s the athlete who logs in the practice hours and crosses the finish line. It’s the coach who shows them the most efficient way to get there.

Be Prepared To Invest

Coaching services require you to make an investment. Many charge a fixed fee for their services. It can be as little as $50 or upwards of $1,000 an hour, depending on experience. Some may offer discounted consulting sessions to help you decide whether their service fits your needs.

In addition to fees, be prepared to invest your time. You’ll need to put in the work outside your coaching sessions, while still running your business. That might be researching alternatives or implementing a new process.

Lower-Cost Options

Not all small businesses have the resources to invest in a private coach. Luckily, there are lower-cost options to consider. They may not be able to provide the same level of service, but they can be a viable alternative for some business owners.

  • SCORE – This organization provides free coaching from its volunteer experts, many of whom have run successful businesses of their own. Face-to-face volunteers may be available in your area. In addition, they offer virtual help using video chats.
  • Small Business Development Centers – Operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA), these centers provide face-to-face business counseling and at-cost training on a variety of topics. Here’s a link to find one located near you.
  • Targeted Centers Veteran and women business owners can get free to low-cost counseling on issues related to their small business.
  • DIY Resources – There are a number of self-study and reference materials to help you address business needs. The disadvantage of these is they don’t provide the personalized guidance an in-person coach offers.

How To Choose One

You’ll get the most benefit from coaches who are compatible to your needs. Entrepreneur contributor Stephen King identifies nine qualities you should look for. Here’s a highlight of three at the top of the list:

  • Experience – Find someone who can speak to real-life experiences, someone who has failed and succeeded. Ask for testimonials and look for reviews.
  • Accessibility – Ask how much time they have to offer you. What is their schedule like? How many other projects and commitments do they have?
  • Connections – A great coach will have longstanding relationships with people who could benefit you. Ask if they’re willing to open doors for you.

For those willing to make the investment, a small business coach can help you unlock the key and take your business forward. Answer for yourself by learning more about this valuable resource.