In the 21st century, the term “coaching” is everywhere. It wasn’t too long ago that the only kind of coaches were found in sports, but now the types and kinds of coaches have exploded. There’s Life Coaches, Executive Coaches, Financial Coaches, Organizational Coaches, Diet Coaches, Health and Wellness Coaches, Acting Coaches, Singing Coaches, and so many others we can’t even keep count.
To make matters more confusing, there is no strict definition of coaching. Coaching is more than standing on the sidelines drawing out a plan for your team to follow while you yell at the refs for missing a call! As such, there are no governing laws that dictate what a coach can or can’t do, and thus no one to keep them accountable. Some coaches prefer to be mostly hands off (which is really consulting), others want to just solve the problem for you and leave, while some want to help you transform yourself in order to help you solve your own problems
Most people understand what Coaching is when it comes to sports, but when it comes to other areas of life people often get confused. For example, they might not even know business coaches exist, or that most of the Fortune top 500 businesses use them. If you were to ask for a definition, most people can extrapolate a basic understanding using examples of sports coaches, but that’s really missing the mark. On top of that, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. For example, is business coaching worth it? What kind of benefits does it provide? Or even how does one become a business coach? In this article, we’ll try to answer some of those questions.
What is Business Coaching?
At its root, a Business Coach helps businesses succeed. Whenever an entrepreneur or business owner tries to reach a goal, they sometimes can't figure out how to get there. They have a destination in mind, they know they want to move forward, but they can't seem to find the right path. That's what a business coach does. Think of them as a guide. Every time the business has a problem that the owners and CEOs can't figure out, the Business Coach is there to help them solve it.
In addition, a business coach sharpens the key players, trains them, challenges them, pulls the best out of them, comes up with strategies, holds the team accountable to the business's goals, and helps set them up to win.
When you're a busy business leader, you often don't have the time or the energy to dive down deep into the processes that make your company work. Not only that, but you're often too close to the company to truly step back and look objectively at it. There's a reason business owners call their businesses their babies, it's because they get too attached!
A true business coach won't solve your problems for you--they are there to help you be the best you can be. Does a sports coach get off the sidelines and join the team in the middle of the game? Of course not. And the same can be said of any kind of coach.
Consulting is different from coaching. Instead of looking at the overall niche of where a coach specializes, a consultant often specializes even further into their niche. Need a marketing consultant to come in and revamp your marketing efforts? Need a dating consultant to help you find the relationship you want? You can easily hire those. Need a consultant to help you figure out where the bottleneck in your company is? That's going to be a lot harder to find.
Coach Training and Certification
Just as a sports coach gets training on how to lead their teams and players, there are different ways to get training as a Business Coach. But where you start has a lot to do with how fast you want to grow your own coaching practice.
The cheapest way to learn how to be a business coach is to work for one. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is often overlooked. You might have to do menial work, or be their secretary, but often by hanging around them over a period of time you'll see how they work, the words and language they use, the skills they practice, etc.
If you don't want to spend the time and would rather get a jump start, there are two options. The first option is to buy a franchise. Plenty of them exist, and you can easily spend high five figures or even six figures depending on the name of the franchise you buy. These models are proven to be effective, but just like any business, you have to also put in the work. There is no magic bullet here. Several you can find are Action Coach and Strategic Coach.
The last option for the aspiring business coach to get training is to take an online course. This option is great for those who are in the middle, who are willing to put in a little time and spend a little bit of money.
While there are great courses out there, there are plenty of terrible options as well. Because it's so easy to become a coach (you just have to call yourself one), plenty of people sell incomplete information or package information you can find by spending five minutes on Google. So how can you tell if a course is legitimate? Look at the person selling the course. Some common indicators to look for are: how long have they been coaching others, are they affiliated with the International Coach Federation and/or the Better Business Bureau, and have they run a successful business outside of coaching?
Does a business coach need to have run a successful business before becoming a coach? No, but it certainly helps. Most people take a look at spreadsheets and organizational flowcharts and their eyes glaze over, but as a business coach you have to be willing and excited to dig into those parts in order to help your clients achieve the success they desire.
2 Important Accreditation Organizations You Need To Know About
International Coach Federation- Founded in 1995, The ICF is a non-profit dedicated to professional coaching. It is currently the largest organization in the coaching world, with over 34,000 members in over 130 countries. They can help you become certified, find a mentor, continue your professional development, certify any online programs you may sell, and can even refer clients through their Certified Coach Finder.
Better Business Bureau- The better business bureau is a step above the ICF. They are a non-profit corporation that uses an accredited businesses system to assign grades to businesses, charities, and non-profit organizations. Once you apply and go through their system, you'll be able to post your grade on your website, adding a level of credibility and trust that people can verify.
Business Coaching Strategy
Many business coaches feel they need to be present on every social media platform and reach out to every single business... and they forget about strategy. Don't make this mistake! If you don't have a road map for where you're going, how are you going to get there? If you're trying to get from Los Angeles to New York, just a couple of degrees north or south of the trajectory will send you to a vastly different place.
Unless you buy a franchise coaching business, your coaching business will and should be different than most others. And it all starts with your goals. Most people take months of planning when determining what house they should live in, but not what business they should start. Another common problem coaches have is once they begin, if they have some level of success, they often don't pause and reflect in order to reevaluate their business and create new goals. They simply keep following the same plan that got them to where they are, expecting the plan to continue taking them to the next level. But it never works like that.
Your experience where you are in your coaching journey can potentially impact the kinds of clients who will hire you. If you're just starting out, signing a business as your client that does over a million dollars in revenue is unlikely.
Determine Your Coaching Niche
The last thing to consider when determining what strategy you should be pursuing is what kind of niche do you want to start your business inside of. If you're not familiar with the term, a niche is a specialized, much smaller segment of a larger market. For example, Business Coaching is a large market and in it you can find businesses of all types and sizes. A niche of the business coach may be that they specialize in 5 person or smaller startups, or that they work in a certain field like manufacturing. The sky's the limit really. You can choose whatever you like, but be conscious of who you are as a person and as a business owner when determining your niche.
No, you shouldn't just market yourself to every business. Not only will you burn yourself out, but you'll be involved with businesses that you don't have a passion for. Because the coaching process is so personal, the last thing you want to do as a business coach is deliver a subpar experience. Not only will people refuse to give you any referrals, but they'll also likely go out of their way to tell their friends and acquaintances to avoid you. You'll lose out on tons of business over time, all because you decided to work in an environment where you wouldn't thrive.
Building a Consistent Brand
Your brand as a business separates you from your competition. And make no mistake, every business coach who is not you is also trying to make a living. Think of it like this, if someone wanders onto your website versus a different business coach's website, how are they going to determine who they are going to hire? It is those things that make up your brand.
You are a brand. The choices you make, the market you work in, your communication style, and even the colors and feel of your website all speak to your brand. And if it is off, people will smell it from a mile away. You can't change a tiger's stripes, and likewise, you can only pretend to be someone you're not for a short period of time. Notwithstanding, the bigger the client the more likely they are to sniff out any deception.
There are several methods of how coaches work with their clients. Each has their benefits.
In-Person- This kind of coaching is the most common, and can work with a business of any size. Sometimes you'll need to help lead all-company meetings, or meet with staff members, or go into detail about a business's financials, and obviously these things can't be done over a Zoom call.
Virtual/Telephone- This type of coaching is best done when doing a one on one or a small business session. With medium to large organizations, it is nearly impossible to effectively help the CEO go through all of the necessary steps of the coaching process.
Content Creation- This last type isn't really coaching, but it still can be very effective. Through this process, a business coach will disseminate their information into an easily consumed format like YouTube videos, blog posts, podcasts or online courses.
Coaching Business Analysis
If you're looking for a Business Coach, or you're looking at becoming a coach, the most important factor when determining a coach of any value is finding out if they have a coach. That's right, a business coach needs a coach! If someone proclaims themselves to be a business coach but doesn't believe they need one too, then no one will be there to keep them accountable and help them grow their business. It would be like a doctor who didn't have a doctor, or a teacher that never went to school to learn how to teach.
A coach needs a website. You're a business, and every business in the 21st century has to be on the internet. More than ever, clients will be using your website to determine if you can solve their problems long before they get on the phone with you. A coaching website will definitely have your contact information, but it should also contain your bio, any clients you have worked with, your certification, any online courses you may have, and some way for potential clients to learn your unique coaching style either through blogs, podcasts, or videos.
You As A Business Coach
With countless businesses all over the world needing help, there is no doubt that business coaching is going to be a long lasting opportunity. What was once reserved for teams of players playing a sport for entertainment has grown to encompass entire industries and marketplaces.
If you're already a business coach, or on the verge of making that decision, there is no doubt that you could have a tremendously successful career. Just like any business, if you can separate yourself from the pack and prove you have the knowledge and know-how, businesses will come knocking on your door for help.
Creating and building a coaching business that can succeed in any marketplace may seem daunting, but it can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. We have multiple training options, which you'll find linked here.