You consider yourself an authority. That’s why you felt confident that your idea for a business was a good one. That’s the way of the entrepreneur. You go into the venture as a specialist in your niche.
After launching, however, probably unbeknownst to you, your status shifts. It’s actually more than a shift; it’s a downright plummet. From the expert, you become the generalist. There is a huge difference between being a coach – and becoming a coach who is building a business.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a chef, an architect, or some other kind of specialist; you’re possibly not a business expert. You may know your specialization and industry inside out, but, unless you’re an authority on commerce and finance, you have to accept that you could use some help and guidance.
To illustrate this point, I ask you to recall the plot of that beloved Nora Ephron film, “You’ve Got Mail.” Meg Ryan’s character is the expert when it comes to children’s books. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks’ character probably didn’t know Beverly Cleary from Marguerite Henry, and yet his bookstore thrived while hers went under.
The thing about business is that you can run it quite well without expert help for a time, but you will come to a point where you’ll find it more difficult to stay on top of everything or you’ll encounter a challenge that your experience thus far simply isn’t equal to. You can choose to continue winging it or you can get assistance.
Enter the business coach…
Many business owners in recent years have found it a worthwhile investment to hire a coach to help them in moving their organization forward in its bid for growth and development. A coach can assist you in various key aspects of running a business, such as meeting primary goals, bolstering creativity, managing changes that come with growth, boosting productivity and effectiveness, improving intra- and extra-organizational communication, recruiting and retaining quality staff, promoting a culture of work-life balance, and many other important benefits.
What are some of the specific areas where coaching can really make a difference?
Strategizing and Planning
A good coach has the wherewithal for strategy, having already gone through the process many times in the past. The guidance provided is invaluable. You can identify weak points so you can strengthen them, be warned against the usual pitfalls, etc. If you want to be challenged to think differently as well as to clarify your goals and means for achieving them, hire a coach. Sure, you have great ideas and you know what your expectations are, but too often, business owners forge ahead with blinders on. It’s good to have a sounding board. It’s even better when that sounding board has in-depth knowledge of what you’re going through.
Technology, especially IT, plays a huge role in business operations these days. Considering the speed with which it is updated, it can be hard for the layperson to keep up. It needs to be done, however, since these innovations are necessary for more efficient communication, automation, analytics, etc. As a rule, coaches stay abreast of the latest in business-related technology so that they can help their clients deploy it, manage integrations, and come up with technical solutions to unique challenges.
Leading and Managing
Leadership qualities are innate in some and developed in others. Whether you belong to the former set or the latter, a coach can help you hone management and leadership skills. Remember, you may have the chops, but there’s always room for learning and improvement, especially where a growing business is involved. Your management capacity needs to evolve along with your organization. A good coach will also support you to navigate troubled business waters, setting the foundation for your capability in handling those inevitable management storms. Unfortunately, they come sooner or later, all part of an organization’s growing pains.
If you think that there’s nothing more to marketing than great promotion gimmicks and common sense, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s a very involved and technical undertaking. A coach can help you with branding and campaign. You can access both traditional, tried, and tested tactics as well as trendy ones. Ultimately, you’ll be steered away from rookie mistakes, which could spell death for a business in some cases.
Just because your organization is growing, it doesn’t mean that it’s moving toward the destination and goals you’ve set for it. It’s easy to get carried away and just forget your initial intentions. While flexibility is a good thing, it’s also important to stay on the track you started on. You chose it for a reason, so you need to think really hard about straying. A coach will serve as your accountability partner, pushing you to stay on course and meet your goals.
At the end of the day, you can choose to hack it on your own or get expert help for you to stay accountable and work on achieving the correct growth and development of your business.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.
Salma is the first Arab female faculty member of CTI in the region, a certified Agile profile coach and trainer as well as a Cultural Intelligence Certified Advanced Facilitator. She works with a wide variety of individuals, ranging from directors and managers at Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs across various industries, and other professionals.