If you’ve never worked with a business coach before, you probably wonder: What exactly does a coach do, and what do I do as a coaching client? The following business coaching tips should give you a clearer vision of the process and how to get the most out of working with a coach.
1. Understand and embrace your role as a business coaching client. Working with a coach is collaborative. The coach gives you advice and guidance, and you implement it, in your own individual way, making your own judgments as you go. By hiring a coach, you’re embarking on an active, focused period in developing your business, venture or project. Your role is to be actively engaged in developing strategies and plans to help you meet your goals, which your coach can help clarify and define.
You’ll get the most out of your coaching sessions if you:
- Prepare for each session with questions and specific issues you want to tackle.
- Are open to advice and ask questions to clarify anything that is confusing.
- Make active efforts to achieve the goals set in coaching sessions and follow through with action items established in sessions.
- Stay organized and track your own progress between coaching sessions (with the coach’s organizational help).
- Report your progress honestly.
- Communicate openly, even about business topics or issues you find difficult or that make you feel insecure.
2. Understand the role of your business coach. Your coach’s role is to give you direction, advice and support in starting or running a business, managing self-employment, managing your projects and anything related to developing your ventures. Your coach can’t do it for you, and can’t perform magic. Every coach is different in what they offer; in my coaching work, what I can (and will) do is:
- Help give structure to your ideas and to your existing practices, with an eye to developing streamlined business systems.
- Advise you on a broad spectrum of issues that are crucial to business success (i.e. developing a target market, drafting a business plan, managing finances, hiring and managing staff, doing business online, etc.).
- Offer suggestions and guidance for how to build a business that supports the life you want to lead, and how to maintain work/life balance.
- Listen to your ideas, plans, approaches and practices and give you honest feedback, including suggestions for how you can make improvements.
- Help you set goals and develop effective habits for pursuing and achieving them.
- Help you stay organized by providing summaries and action plans after each coaching session.
- Support you in between our coaching sessions by answering your questions via email.
- Support your networking efforts and help you build your network by suggesting people you should meet, and making introductions when appropriate.
3. Be on time for coaching sessions. Remember, this is your time — make the most of it! Prioritizing these sessions and being on time helps put you into the right headspace to TCOB.
4. Be willing to be challenged by the process. You may find some of your coach’s advice challenging, either to accept or to implement (or both). I encourage my clients to explore new ways of trying things that may not be in their comfort zone. I also believe it’s very worthwhile to examine why certain aspects of self-employment are more difficult for you — for instance, discomfort in managing people, or dealing with money. Every coach has their own style; mine is supportive, inquisitive and honest. If I think one of your ideas is questionable or downright crazy, I’ll let you know, always with an eye to how you can tweak your idea or plan to make it more viable.
5. Ask a lot of questions! Don’t hold back because you’re afraid a question is obvious or for fear it will reveal that “you don’t know what you’re doing.” No one knows what they’re doing all of the time! Even the savviest, most successful businesspeople have blind spots. Entering into a coaching engagement is your chance to ask about anything — really anything — you want to know. I can’t speak for all coaches but if I don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you. More often, I’ll either have an answer or we can figure it out together.