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Do I Need a Business Coach? Here’s Why Having One Might Be Right for You


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Are you in the market for a business coach?

The truth is that in entrepreneurship, the right coach can help you reach new and exciting heights. We’re talking places you might never have reached without help from an expert advocate.

In fact, many business owners credit their success to a business coach. And whether you are a youthful employee, an early-stage startup founder, or decades into running your own company, chances are that you can benefit extensively from coaching.

Insights from a sound advisor can give you the clarity and accountability you need to take your career to the next level.

Insights into coaching: history and statistics

Where did coaching come from? Early references to coaching can be traced back to Ancient Greece. In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus’s son Telemachus relies on the support of a wise older man named “Mentor.”

In the 1860s, meanwhile, the word “coaching” was used in an athletic context in Oxford, England. And while executive coaching didn’t become popular until the early 1990s, history shows that the value of a supportive relationship—a relationship rooted in meaningful conversation and personal development—has been touted for quite some time.

Today, the International Coaching Federation estimates that there are currently 53,300 coaches practicing around the world, up from 47,500 professional coaches working in 2011.

Of these, 33% operate in the United States, where demand continues to grow. In 2016, the U.S. market for personal coaching reached $1.02 billion, a significant increase from $707 million in 2011. Experts project a 6.7% average yearly growth rate through 2022.

Clearly, business coaching can be very beneficial. But how should prospective clients go about selecting the right professional?

Choosing your coach: three strategies

Are you ready to kick off your search for a professional coach? Keep in mind that you’ll want someone with the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you reach your unique goals.

It’s also important that you find someone you like and respect. While a referral from a trusted friend or colleague may be a good place to start, you should note that their idea of a great coach might not align with yours.

With that, here are three tips for choosing the right coach:

1. Do your research

So you’ve begun researching prospective coaches—this is excellent news!

However, you’ll want to be sure to check the professional’s experience and references before making a commitment. You should research who they have worked with in the past, review their website and publications, and speak to a few options in order to narrow down the selection process.

Related: Coaching: The Best-Kept Secret to Growing as an Entrepreneur

2. Focus on support

For many, a coach is a trusted yet objective friend who can offer guidance along their journey.

Here’s the deal: If you want to climb Mount Everest, you need a Sherpa. Similarly, if you’re hoping to grow in work and in life, you might benefit from having an expert help put your vision into action. Your coach shouldn’t do everything for you, but support you by providing the direction you need to thrive.

3. Consider the fit

Please note that even a highly-skilled coach might not be the best coach for you.

In baseball, the manager is like a coach. Perhaps he/she acquires a great new player, but the player is not filling the right position for the team to win the championship. For example, the team might get a great home run hitter, but the team has a weak pitching staff; the team will never make it to the World Series!

You and your coach are meant to work as a team, and you must find the correct fit; all the proverbial stars must align.

So, how can you determine whether you’ve found the right fit? When chatting with potential coaches, simply ask questions such as:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • How do you define success?
  • How do you handle failure?
  • What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve helped clients tackle?
  • What measurable outcomes have you helped clients achieve?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

You’ll also want the coach to describe their ideal client.

And if there are a few options that seem right, you may want to shop around a bit more. Most coaches will offer a complimentary introductory session to help you do just that!

Oh, and one more thing: Online coaching can be just as beneficial as in-person coaching. Many practitioners offer remote sessions, so avoid limiting your search by location.

Related: The 5 Essentials to Effective Coaching

Build trust and make the most of your coaching relationship

Ready to cultivate a trusting relationship with your coach?

The more your provider understands what makes you tick, the more they can identify useful strategies you can implement to enhance your life. You will want to kick things off by discussing:

  • Where you spend the bulk of your time and money
  • Which daily habits you find most useful, and which ones you’d like to change
  • What personal development tools you’ve found most helpful in the past

Aim to be realistic when possible. “Making more money,” for example, isn’t a concrete goal—you’ll want sound figures and a detailed plan to back everything up. Similarly, “being CEO within a year” won’t be feasible if you only have a couple of years of career experience.

Ultimately, you want a coach who will hold you accountable. The right coach should make you feel good about yourself—but their job isn’t to fix you. The best coaches around make a point of helping their clients overcome the obstacles in their path.

And if this sounds appealing to you, hiring a coach could be the best thing you can do for your career.

Related: 7 Key Considerations to Finding the Right Business Coach


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