For many people, hiring a business coach never crossed their mind. Mainly because it is not all that common to have a business coach. By that I mean there are millions of independent business owners and only a small fraction of them utilize a business coach.
How do Successful Business Owners Get that way?
Ask successful business owners and you’ll see the percentage of them that use all types of support people goes way up. That means that successful business people value help and guidance of others. More so, it is quite common to hear about coaches and mentors – two key ingredients in business success.
New Business Owners
It can be a real challenge for new business owners, I know it was for me. I actually knew several business coaches when I was getting started. I even met with a couple, followed their work, even went to a couple of group meetings.
So did I get a coach? Not right away. I remember thinking “I’m a little embarrassed to tell anyone that I need a coach”. I guess I wanted to do it on my own.
The old chicken and the egg dilemma
What comes first, success or a coach? Look around at athletes. Have you ever seen a successful ‘independent’ athlete?
NO. They all have coaches … and it’s very clear that they got where they are because they had good coaches. Most athletes these days have multiple coaches.
How many does Tiger Woods have? 6 or 7? I know he has several.
(I’m not sure how many coaches he has – leave it on the comments if you know)
So successful business people and athletes, and many others use coaches. But we seem to be somewhat conditioned to believe that we need to do it alone. That is especially true for independent business people.
It was true for me. Not only did I love the ‘independent’ part of ‘independent business owner‘, but I was also starting a second career as a business owner. I wanted to immediately be as successful as I was in my previous career and was reluctant to seek advice.
That probably slowed my success. For me, when I started actively seeking consulting help, coaching help, my business really started to take off.
I was very used to helping other people – training, coaching – but slow to see that it was a two-way street.
Cash Flow is King
Just so I don’t mislead anyone. I am a firm believer that Cash Flow is one of the most critical aspects of startup businesses.
I remember a training course I took some years ago – it was on business finance, focused on small businesses. I was a business consultant for small, and not so small, business owners at the time. This was one of my favorite courses – I really like the instructor, very down-to-earth.
He said, “If the Cash Don’t Flow, the Loan Don’t Go”
We were obviously talking about how owners can get business loans, at the time. But it turns out, that phrase is so important, it really is the start of a lot of thoughts that successful startup businesses have. The banks know this, even if the business owners don’t – always keep your cash flow healthy.
- If the Cash Don’t Flow … the bills don’t get paid
- If the Cash Don’t Flow … you can’t buy groceries
- If the Cash Don’t Flow … your suppliers lose interest
- If the Cash Don’t Flow … you can’t afford a coach !
… and yes, of course, the Loan Don’t Go either – the bank won’t lend you money.
So back to the chicken and the egg – you must have positive cash flow, that does come first, but then a coach is right up at the top of the list after that. Stay within your budget.
I’ve even known some business owners that have sought out consulting or coaching help even in times of negative cash flow – to help turn the business around. Risky, but successful.
Most people can’t afford to NOT have a coach. After having tried it both ways, I’m a big believer in actively seeking out the right kind of help early in starting a business.
If I had it to do over again, I would have skipped the assistant and spent the money on a coach. My first two coaches cost less than I spent on a part-time assistant for six months and I’ve got some permanent progress to show for it.
What kind of Coach?
Not everyone needs a coach. Pure and simple. But for the majority of people that want to start a business and be successful, the journey to success will be shorter with a coach.
If you know your weakness and it is specific, look for a trainer or a training course. Free information exists for a lot of business areas. Free training exists.
Here’s a hint: FREE stuff doesn’t hurt your Cash Flow. So free is good.
Consultants have expertise in specific areas, like marketing or business organization. They can typically analyze your business and make specific recommendations for improvement. Your benefits from a consultant should include a ‘fresh eyes’ look, some new ideas, and information about best practices.
Coaches, on the other hand, have expertise in helping you help yourself. They can facilitate growth in a variety of areas in which they may or may not have specific expertise. Their approach is much different than a consultant or a trainer. It is important to have a good rapport, or develop a rapport, with a coach. A good coach will help you figure out the best solutions for your business and the benefits are often the most significant and far-reaching with this approach.