Don’t be fooled, business coaching is not easy

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking that partnering with a business coach will solve all of their business challenges. This is only partly true. Read on to find out why.

Imagine you’re training for a marathon. You have your goal, you have your training plan, and it’s all going well. But, still, you feel you could do better. So, you hire a running coach. What happens now? Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it? If you diligently follow the coach’s advice, you’re certain to see progress. If you think the mere fact you’ve appointed the coach is enough and continue without making any changes, you probably won’t.

The same applies to business coaching, says Pieter Scholtz, Country Partner of ActionCOACH. “Appointing a coach is the first step. Thereafter, the hard work starts,” he says. Scholtz adds that there’s often a misconception about the business coach’s role. “You can’t expect your coach to solve your business challenges for you. A good coach will tell you the truth about you and your business, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, or how hard it is to share with you the realities of your business and the changes you need to make.”

A business coach will help by providing training, skills, guidance and advice, Scholtz says. “When you’re working by yourself, it’s easy to get off track. You might have a vague idea that you’re not happy with where the business is headed, but you’re not sure how to correct it’s course. This might be because you’re too close to the business and you can’t see where the areas of weakness might be, or maybe it’s simply because you don’t know how to fix things,” explains Pieter.

This is where the objective view of a business coach can help. Because they are less invested in the business, especially from an emotional perspective, they aren’t afraid to take a critical look at what’s going wrong. They can make the hard calls that business owners are afraid to. What’s more, they have the industry experience and insight to understand what changes need to be made. But this is where the responsibility of the business coach ends and that of the business owner begins, Scholtz says. “Your coach may suggest books to read, conferences to attend, webinars to watch. You’ll also need to be prepared to think up issues that you want to discuss before each session if you are to get the most out of the relationship. There’s a lot of homework involved,” he points out.

Of course, you can choose not to follow up on your coach’s recommendations. After all, entrepreneurs often carry a heavy load, and it can be difficult to find the time for ‘enrichment work’ in between income generating tasks. But, says Scholtz, “as with most things in life, the benefits you receive from coaching will correlate directly with the time and effort you invest. If you don’t think you’re ready to make the commitment, this might not be the right time for you.

“Remember,” he continues, “growth comes from doing. When you are part of a coaching relationship, you’ll be doing a lot of doing. You’ll be answering a lot of tough but important questions. You will be challenging your paradigms and perspectives. You will be unlocking your potential. You will be on your way to becoming the person, the leader, that you need to be in your life and in your business. You will be made aware of the obstacles, and you’ll learn how to overcome them.”

It won’t be easy – but then change and growth (and all the other uncomfortable situations that ultimately benefit us) seldom are.