Yes, You Need a Business Coach
Here’s why Google’s CEO and other entrepreneurs say hiring a coach was the best advice they ever received.
Written by Scott Duffy, Founder & CEO Content.Market
Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, once told Fortune magazine that the best business advice he ever received was to hire a coach. He shared, “I initially resented the advice, because after all, I was a CEO. I was pretty experienced. Why would I need a coach? Am I doing something wrong? My argument was, ‘How could a coach advise me if I’m the best person in the world at this?’ But that’s not what a coach does. The coach doesn’t have to play the sport as well as you do. They have to watch you and get you to be your best.”
Eric Schmidt isn’t alone in his initial thinking. Many entrepreneurs balk at the idea of hiring a coach, and some even find it downright insulting. As an entrepreneur, you’ve built your business and achieved success because you understand your industry. Of all people, why would you need a coach?
In reality, that’s the wrong way to think about a business coach. A coach isn’t necessarily better than you and doesn’t necessarily know more than you do about your industry. Instead, a coach is someone who brings out your best by providing counsel, support, feedback, and advice. As long as you have an open mind, you can benefit from working with a coach in a number of invaluable ways.
The biggest reason to hire a coach is to gain a new perspective on ways to do business or accomplish certain goals. Think about the many times when you may have been only capable of looking at a problem from one angle. Sometimes, a coworker or even an intern can spot a solution by approaching the problem with a different perspective. It has nothing to do with someone being smarter; it’s just about looking at problems differently. Think of a business coach instead as a voice of reason or a support system as you map out your next business moves.
Think about all the projects you’ve considered pursuing but never did. One of the reasons why may have been because no one else ever knew about those ideas and, therefore, there was never any pressure for you to make something of them. A business coach expects you to make progress toward accomplishing specific tasks. They can inspire you to push harder, work faster, and think bigger.
Remember, there are two paths to success: you can figure it out on your own through trial and error, wasting valuable time and money. Or you can find coaches, role models, and advisors who can guide you. It’s ultimately your call, but I think we both know which of the two options makes the most sense.
Sometimes you come across an article that you could not agree with more, this is an example of one of them.
Need advice? Experts, including myself, will be glad to share it. Unfortunately, experts can give very bad advice. As an expert, I need to walk a fine line here, since this article itself is an expert opinion. But hear me out.
The main problem with experts today is that everyone seems to be one.
Don’t get me wrong. We need experts. The next time my dishwasher breaks, I want an expert to fix it. And sure, if my business needs help with marketing, I want a marketing expert to help me. But you need to separate the good from the bad by watching for the following five warning signs.
1. Hasn’t been there, hasn’t done that
You want a coach or expert who has actually done what you are doing. While a coach may have training in your field, nothing can top hands-on experience. Look for a coach that has direct experience in what you need advice about.
2. Big words, little action
It is easy for an expert to gain credibility by writing. Many experts quickly dominate the blogosphere with sage advice. But the reality is that words mean nothing if you can’t execute. Look for coaches who both write about what they do and do what they write about.
3. Advice, but no specific experience
Ever ask an expert what they think about your product or service and they then tell you why it is a horrible or great idea? I don’t care if you have 100 years of consulting experience. If the expert is not the end consumer of the product or service, his advice is wrong.
The consumer knows what she wants. Listen to her.
Tip: If you want to quickly qualify an expert, ask them what they think about your offering. If they offer advice, without qualifying (or disqualifying) themselves based on their consumer experience, they’re likely giving you bad advice.
4. No coach of their own
If a coach doesn’t have his own coach, red flags should fly! It could indicate that the coach you’re hiring doesn’t believe in being coached. Or, that the coach feels she has nothing left to learn.
5. Nothing to learn from you
An expert doesn’t know all things. Being an expert means having superior knowledge and hands-on experience in one category. To apply this knowledge on your behalf, the expert must learn about your business. If they aren’t thirsty to know more about your industry or if they don’t ask for your direction, you may be getting a one-size-fits-all solution. At the end of the day, that’s not a real solution.
When you need an expert in a certain field, be discerning. You want someone who knows what they’re talking about, does what they talk about, is constantly learning and doesn’t try to solve all problems with one easy-fix solution. That expert will give you some great advice.
Author – Mike Michalowicz
A recent article I wrote for In and Out Magazine.
Here’s a Before Internet (BI) scenario: A consumer has a problem with a business. Consumer informs owner. Owner rectifies problem or does not. Consumer decides to forgive and forget, or decides not to patronize the business ever again. It’s simple. Here’s an After Internet (AI) scenario: A consumer has a problem with a business. Consumer jumps on the keyboard and slams the establishment through blogs, forums, social networks, and consumer rating sites. There’s no face-to-face constructive criticism given to the owner/manager, no opportunity to immediately address the customer’s complaints and possibly send the customer home feeling validated and satisfied. Condemnation over the internet leads to repercussions that will exist for an infinite amount of time. This is not so simple.
You show me a business that doesn’t screw-up now and then, and I will show you a unicorn. Stuff happens. Be realistic. I spent two decades owning a small business that was built on customer service. Anytime a customer shared a problem or bad experience with me, I felt like he had given me a gift; I had the chance to rectify the problem and improve my operation. Other, unsatisfied customers chose to leave and never return. No gift.
They keyboard can be mightier than the sword. It can be viewed as the modern-day, school-yard bully. At least on the playground you know who the bully is. The internet fosters an environment that allows for anonymity and no accountability. Recently, it was my turn to choose a restaurant to dine in with friends. I was bombarded with comments from my pals: “reviews weren’t the greatest”, “service was slow”, “Joan, from Utah, said she would never eat there again.” My replies were: “Food is subjective to individual taste”, “Maybe the customer was in a super rush”, “Joan could be a competitor, ex-employee, or an ex-spouse.” We ate there, and the result was I picked another winner. My entire party had a great time. We would gladly return and recommend the restaurant to friends. Lesson learned: Take reviews with a grain of salt. Of course, I understand that there is truth and consensus on blogs, forums, and consumer rating sites. I take issue with the disgruntled customer who would rather try to destroy someone’s business than allow them an opportunity to address complaints in person or at least directly. This is what makes us humans and separates us from keyboard tyrants. I guess it’s okay if and only if that person admits that they have never made a mistake. I have seen a lot but I’ve yet to see a unicorn living in a glass house.
So be thoughtful when a business or an individual makes a mistake. Maybe you can implement a 24 hour cool down period before you pull out your keyboard and go for the kill.
Larry Vivola is a business coach. He works with entrepreneurs to help improve their business results. He can be contacted at Larry@InLineBusinessAdvisors.com
I’m expanding my business through a national affiliate program, and
I’m looking for five entrepreneurs across the country that might be interested
in launching their very own small business coaching firm.
I’m blessed to work with the smartest, most-hard working entrepreneurs on the planet. Their successes have inspired me to share my coaching/business philosophies with others. The ultimate goal is to help as many small businesses as possible.
So, if you know someone that might make a great business coach, please
forward them my information. Thanks in advance. I look forward
to returning the favor.
10 Things You Need to Know About Being an Entrepreneur
Contributed by Anne McAuley of McAuley Freelance Writing
Employees are taking it on the chin lately. They are subjected to longer hours, more responsibilities, less security―and all for reduced compensation. It’s a sad sign of the times. Employers are struggling as well. They must function with less revenue, increased expenses and more demanding consumers than ever before. What gives? Usually, it’s the employee. A common answer to an employer’s financial woes is to cut employee-related expenses in an effort to prop up the bottom line. This weak solution is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that requires stitches. In the long run, you will be left with an ugly scar.
The most successful companies in the world treat employees better than customers. This may seem to contradict the old adage that the customer is the most important element of any business. Wrong, employees are. Often times, people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. So, why not demonstrate as much respect for employees as customers? Take employees to lunch or for coffee. Entice the staff with incentives. Cash is not always king; It’s proven that appreciation, spontaneous time off, recognition and genuine care are often better motivators than money. Happy employees make happy customers.
HP founder David Packard once said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” Everyone in the company has a critical role in marketing. Disgruntled employees release tension by complaining about their employers to anyone who will listen. Each employee needs to buyin to its company’s goal and mission. Passionate employees naturally promulgate a business’s vision. Treat employees poorly, and the risk of extinguishing their desire to go above and beyond is rife.
When I first moved to Anthem, I needed new tires for my car. I went to Discount Tire and experienced terrible service from a miserable employee. I swore I would never spend my money there again. Four years later, I met Ben, another employee of Discount Tire at a barbecue. I shared my horror story with him. He appeared genuinely shocked. He apologized on behalf of the company and went on to tell me how he is treated like one of the family at Discount Tire. He was emphatic that the company values its customers and employees. Ben volunteered this information; he had nothing to gain by spending 30 minutes praising his employer. This is an example of employee marketing at its best. I’ve been loyal customer of Discount Tire ever since I spoke with Ben at that barbecue.
Trust employees; They internalize practical knowledge by performing the day-to-day operations. Sam Walton is credited for jumping on his trucks and picking the brains of his drivers. He understood that his employees acquired the knowledge needed to improve business. His actions demonstrated a trust and regard for employee input. Truly caring for and treating employees with respect, regardless of their position on the corporate ladder, is an integral part of a smart business plan. Employees understand that times are tough, but implementing positive energy and working together will help a company persevere and knockout the competition.
Keep Your Crew Happy
• Work From Home Days Employees can skip the commute hassle and work in the comfort of their own home.
• Family Days Employees get bitter when they have to use a vacation day to stay with a sick child.
• Exercise Programs Arrange for a group session twice per week. You’ll get the group discount and they’ll
lose the stress and gain energy.
• Pizza Fridays Provide your group with lunch once a week. Whether its a catered affair from Our Kitchen to
Yours or a couple large pizzas, free lunch is always welcome. Or, make it a bagel breakfast to start the day right.
• Share Your Discounts Buying in bulk typically allows a business to get good prices on computers and
• Discounts on What You Do: Give them a discount on your company’s goods services.
• Fun and Games A dart board or a putting green in the office can help balance the stressful moments.
• Free Seminars Professionals will often speak for free (to promote themselves) on topics such as investment
planning or ways to relieve stress.
• Socialize: Holiday parties, family picnics, movie night. These are all ways to promote company unity.
Congratulations Harkins, our home town family owned theater, with 30 theaters, 427 screens and about 2,500 employees, Harkins is the largest privately owned theater in the United States.
Dan Harkins tributes his companies success to passion and never being satisfied. Dan made a great comment when he spoke recently at the Economic Club of Phoenix kick off event.
“When you get complacent, that’s when you start going out of business.” Said Dan