Sometimes the cynical teenager in me pops up. I’ve morphed into a quite a positive adult, often found enthusiastically chatting away or writing about dreams, purpose and joy. Every now and then though, the dark moody pessimistic teen-me appears beside me, like Wednesday Adams, rolling her eyes and disdainfully sighing, ‘really?’
This is what she said when coaches started popping up all over LinkedIn and in networking groups. Business coaches, life coaches, a ‘bit of both’ coaches - what a total waste of time and money! I mean, if you can’t figure it out for yourself then what chance do you have anyway? Besides, don’t these people have friends? Coaches, I thought, target people who either love to talk non-stop about themselves or people who actually need a therapist but are hoping a coach will be less confronting (and cheaper). If I needed to work something out, in business or life, then I generally take one of two approaches:
Pen and paper and a good old-fashioned mind-map
An evening with a good friend and at least one bottle of wine (ok, at least two)
Then lockdown hit and there was no one to share wine with. My 7-year-old had no practical suggestions of where I should go next in my career (beyond her ambition for me to open a sweet shop) and I couldn’t start a mind map because I didn’t know how to begin. So, when a life/business coach offered me a massively discounted three-session package, I figured it couldn’t hurt.
One week later I’d completely changed my mind about business coaches. In fact, I think we should all see one at least once.
Now, I’m not a business coach so I have no agenda in trying to sell you on the benefits of working with one. I only know it has helped me and I know that my clients who have seen a business coach, have a much clearer picture of their company and can better communicate their values, needs and ambitions. Both in business and life.
In the last three years running my own business, I’ve seen much evidence to support the claim that investing in yourself always pays off. Yet, it’s important to recognise that doing so is a privilege. Being able to pay to see a business coach, for instance, isn’t accessible to everybody, especially not on an ongoing basis. Therefore, it’s important to recognise the times when it would be most useful. That’s why I have had a good think, drawn a mind map, spoken to some coaches, and pinpointed the most common 5 signs you may need a business coach:
You Have An Idea But You Can’t Get Started
Sometimes we are blocked by something deep and debilitating. Fear usually, or some other emotional obstacle we need to overcome. Sometimes, we are blocked by something more practical, or something that seems more practical, like the absence of a qualification, a particular skill or of time. Whether something physical or something emotional is blocking our path there is always a way around it. Except, we can’t often see this for ourselves.
A good business coach can help you get a better view. Because they don’t have their noses pressed up against the obstacle, they are better equipped to guide us over, around or under it. Or maybe they’ll just give us the straight-talking, no-nonsense shake-up we need to smash our way through it.
A good business coach will be a great bulls*** detector and will be able to tell the difference between anything stopping you from moving forward that is a result of a self-limiting mindset, and that which the world has put up to block you. They will then be able to help you put a plan together to overcome what you need to and get your venture launched.
You may have a great business idea or big ambitions but if you have tried and failed to get started, or you haven’t yet found the energy to try, then it’s time to consider asking a coaching professional for help.
You Have Set Up Your Business But It’s Not Working
You’ve taken the plunge and set up your business. You have a proper plan and you’re out there trying to get clients or customers but nothing is happening. Or maybe something is happening but it’s not enough to pay the bills. Not enough to make you believe that this could really work.
A business coach, in this scenario, could help you take a step back and see things from another point of view. Probably, they’ll look at your business from the customer/client's point of view and explore the reasons why they’re not investing in your business. Perhaps you’re not communicating yourself well enough. Perhaps your business plan had holes. Maybe your purpose isn’t aligned enough with your true and honest goals and/or vision. You are probably familiar with the expression ‘you can’t see the wood through the trees.’ This is exactly what a good business coach will be able to help you to do.
You’ll likely talk through your business going right back to your original motivation. You’ll look at your marketing material, at your ideal customer/client profile and you’ll try to work out whether your original ideas were flawed or whether it's that you have strayed from your original ideas. Being inside a business can make it difficult to see clearly. It’s a lot like how we perceive ourselves versus how we’re perceived by others. If you’re not reaching clients/customers then it's likely to be someone who is neither a friend nor part of your business, who will be able to pinpoint the problem.
On this note - don’t work with coaches who always tell you you are right. It’s the ones who can tell you the things that are hard to hear that will do the most to propel you forward. Friends and family are crucial for support and motivation but you should have someone outside of your business who is invested in your growth and not necessarily telling you you are right. The best coaches may get on your nerves. They may make you feel uncomfortable but when they do, go away and take some time to mull over their feedback and if you still feel discomfort after a couple of days, they were probably saying something you needed to hear. Listen and be open to criticism. Nobody starting a business is likely to get everything right but those who don’t listen to the ones who point this out are the ones who will probably not succeed. A coach is there to hold up a mirror and force you to see things you won’t always want to see.
This makes working with a coach an odd investment to make, but it’s one worth making.
You're Established But You Don’t Know How To Upscale
Upscaling is a scary word. Growing a business can often be scarier than launching a business because now you've got something to lose. You may even have people who rely on your continued success.
Working with someone who can offer ideas and help you formulate a plan, but who will also ensure you're growing at a rate you're comfortable with, can be invaluable at this time. There are so many stories of people starting businesses from a point of purpose. Then the business expands and they begin to do what they feel they should instead of what feels right and what follows is disillusionment and maybe even burnout. The business has grown but they haven’t grown with it. They no longer feel a part of it. It’s gathered momentum that is no longer tethered to them. And then they’re just another boss. Another business owner who doesn’t love their business.
The business world is littered with casualties of this and funnily enough, many of those casualties end up becoming coaches intent on ensuring others don’t make the same mistakes they did when upscaling.
A business coach can keep you aligned with your original purpose whilst finding creative and rewarding ways to upscale your business.
You Are Struggling With Work-Life Balance And/Or Career Fulfilment
A good business coach will talk to you as much about your life outside of work as what you’re doing inside of work. Both need to be fulfilling you if you're to truly succeed in either. Balance is essential.
The truth is, many of us cannot completely separate working and non-working hours, especially if we’re running a business. Therefore, you’re going to have to find a way to align the two. A business coach may be able to help you do this.
Many coaches will help you to set goals in your personal life and explore pursuits outside of your business. Not only can this help you become a happier more rounded person, but it can also make you more creative at work. Far too often our goals and plans relate to our careers only but a coach can ensure you're moving forward in all areas of your life.
In addition, a coach can help you if you're struggling with long working hours impacting your family life. They may be able to help you better manage your time and find ways to relieve your workload, possibly by outsourcing or by surrendering that which is not serving you.
You’re Running A Successful Business But You Feel Like A Fraud
You have a business, it’s working. You hand out business cards at networking events, people tell you they are amazed by what you have achieved, they ask you how you managed it. You are even invited to speak at events for other aspiring business owners. But you have a secret - you have no idea what the hell you’re doing!
Well ok - you know what you need to do on a day-to-day basis to run your business and your business plan unfolded as you’d hoped, so you must know something right? But it doesn’t feel this way.
Honestly, a business coach may not be able to eliminate this feeling for you. Some of us are brave enough to try to make our dreams come true, and yet, we're still surprised when they do. So we then wait with trepidation for it all to disappear. We tell ourselves that it was a fluke.
An intuitive business coach may be able to help you navigate what has widely become known as imposter syndrome, though this is massively overdiagnosed. Somebody outside of your business, trained in seeing the bigger picture, can help you to take a step back, absorb what you have achieved and better see the paths that led you there. Think of it as a post-project debriefing. You have built the structure, it exists. Now you have to explain why and how you did it - if only to yourself.
Feeling as if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing is normal, even for the people we think are ‘bossing it’. It’s something we need to feel sometimes because the forward momentum has taken over and we're too busy doing what comes next to appreciate how far we've come. Every so often though, it’s important to step off the ride, take a few moments to find our feet and reflect on how it all happened. Doing this alone is near impossible and friends and family have their own skewed perspectives. Therefore, this is a surprisingly good time to see a business coach. Not to help you to launch or expand, but to help you catch up with the mega business superhero you've become.
You Have A Coach But What Else Do You Need?
Well, now I’ve shared with you why I have changed my mind about coaches, what have we learnt? We’ve discovered that the person best able to see your business clearly isn’t always you. We’ve learnt that sometimes an honest outsider can do more good for your business than a friend or family member. We’ve learnt that growth can be uncomfortable and that it’s essential to have someone who can keep you grounded and true to yourself even if doing so doesn’t seem to serve your immediate needs.
What’s really uncomfortable to admit is that, although I used to be sceptical about coaches, copywriters aren’t that different. In truth, they’re people who can articulate the truth of your business better than you can. Let me explain -
I can’t write my own copy. What do I offer? What do I actually do? Hardest questions in the world! Yet, talk to me for a few minutes about what you do and I’ll put your speech into a strapline. I’ll turn your twists and turns explanation into a Ted Talk-worthy story. You see, I can see the wood when you’re looking at the trees. Only someone outside of your business can tell your story.
So, talk to me. Let me retell your business story, email me at email@example.com