It seems like a lifetime since I launched my coaching practice in 1997. In fact, there were only 5000 coaches of all disciplines (business, life, time management, career, etc.) internationally. Today, that number has soared to include those educated by reputable institutions to those who merely hang out a shingle and call themselves a coach. In fact, a recent report by IBISWorld shows that 46,700 firms provide coaching for business in the U.S. alone. It’s growing!
Coaching, for all disciples, is primarily about discovering…discovering what’s missing—missing in your thinking, your vision, your direction, and your plans. The coach asks probing questions that allow a coachee to search within the database of their experiences to uncover the missing piece.
Coaching is also about discovering what is present yet unseen. That includes talents, skills, values, beliefs, and attitudes that are getting in the way of success.
That’s all well and good—in theory—but in the real world of small business, it’s not very practical. This is especially true for small business owners who are masters of their crafts, such as attorneys, thought leaders, writers, accountants, and therapists who have transitioned to entrepreneurship. Without the context (i.e., experience) from which to draw, many business owners are frustrated with their coaching experience. They want—and need—more. And, I might add, they deserve more.
The Coaching Wants of Today’s Small Business
Although today there is an element of probing questions that will always arise within the context of any productive business coaching call, small business owners truly desire much, much more.
- Small business wants a business coach who partners with them.
Regardless of the number of employees within a business, the owner walks the trail alone. Isolated from what feels like the rest of humanity, it is a solitary journey. Growing a business in a silo is bad for business.Having a business coach that walks next to them accelerates learning, reduces isolation, stimulates creativity and innovation, and removes the fog that accompanies the loneliness of business ownership.
- Small business wants a coach with strategic business skills.
Few people have been taught, or know how, to think strategically within a business. Yet, strategic thinking is the prevailing skill that shapes the future of a business. It makes the difference between success and failure—achieving and doing—moving forward or falling further behind.A coach with a strategic skill set is priceless for small business owners.
It’s the strategic piece of coaching that fosters the alignment of goals and plans with mission, vision, and strategies. Rather than cluttering the business environment with seemingly unrelated activities in hopes of growing the business, a strategic approach prompts a business owner to think in terms of what really matters.
Coaching that is strategic promotes lean thinking, saves a business owner countless hours of unproductive activity, and fosters greater work-life balance.
- Small business wants a business coach with an understanding of business.
Especially in today’s complex business environment, a small business owner can no longer engage a coaching professional without a deeper knowledge and understanding of strategy, marketing, process, performance, metrics, and growing pains associated with the various stages of business.An experienced and well-informed business professional, armed with a tool box of entrepreneurial competencies, is a powerful combination that allows business owners to cut through the flood of information and make quick, smart, strategic decisions that catapult their business forward.
- Small business wants a customized coaching style.
Cookie cutters are the perfect solution—for a baker. A business owner in today’s market, however, wants a coaching approach tailor-made for their personal, professional, and business needs and wants.There is no denying that small business is becoming more complex. As each industry responds to the rapidly changing needs of small business with greater innovation and ingenuity, business coaching must also branch out and grow to meet those needs.
Are we up for the challenge? You bet!