Both start-up entrepreneurs and long-time business owners hire coaches for the same reason: the promise of receiving key advice and shortcuts to success. Business coaching is an invaluable resource and one every business owner, young or old, should utilize. I know this personally. Even as a highly experienced coach myself, I still get great benefits from having a business coach. I utilize mine for everything from their unique/outside perspective to simply having someone to help me flesh out my ideas.
Unfortunately, as valuable as a business coach can be, most have the same Achilles heel: sales, differentiation, and niche marketing strategy. As someone who has been responsible for several multi-million dollar start-ups for my clients and for myself, I can tell you that in most cases you need more help than most business coaches can provide.
The average business coach reports their number one problem is finding clients. I say this not to devalue what they do, but to highlight one glaring fact: if a business coach has trouble growing their own customer base, how helpful can they be growing yours? While it is true that some people are better coaches than performers, in these disciplines that is generally not the case. A coach has to know their subject matter better than anyone but I find that in many cases they, like many struggling businesses, avoid sales and marketing.
Again, this doesn’t negate their ability to help you create change in your business, overcome obstacles, and grow your business through frameworks that hold you accountable. It simply means niche marketing and sales may not be their core competency. Unfortunately, this leaves a glaring gap between the help most business coaches can provide and the number one need most linked to business survival: sales and marketing. After all, reducing costs and increasing productivity will only be effective for a short while without increasing sales revenue.
I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t hire a coach unless they have all these competencies. It is very hard to find a coach with a range of skill sets this wide. I am suggesting that you need one coach with all these competencies, or two coaches who between them have all the skills you need to make your business a success.
For those who currently have a business coach and worry about broaching the topic of seeking additional advice, remember: a business coach that truly cares about you and your business, rather than just their own bottom line, should be happy to work alongside another business advisor. True, it might mean fewer hours for them now but, as your business grows from the wider variety of advice, their hours should increase substantially.
Of course, I can hear you screaming inside your head, “I was worried about paying one coach and now you’re suggesting I hire two?!” If you can’t find a coach that is an expert in all fields then ideally, you do -- if you can afford it. Keep in mind that they should more than pay for themselves in the short-to-long term. In fact, I tend to think that a sales and niche marketing coach that can’t pay for themselves within a few short weeks is not worth the money you’re spending on them. However, you may not need both coaches at the same time.
In order to determine whether you need a business coach or a sales and marketing coach, consider your current business goals. If you believe your needs primarily lie in personal and staff development as well as creating an organizational vision and forming well-structured business systems and processes, then it is likely a business coach will be the right choice.
However, if you want to get in front of more prospects, tap into new markets and increase sales conversion, a sales and marketing coach will likely be best for you. If you have a new start-up and you need it all, start with a coach that can address your greatest weakness. Don’t forget that both types of coaches can likely help you and your business, no matter what your goals, but picking the right coach at the right time can make a substantial difference to the success of your business.
So, do yourself a favor. If you are thinking of hiring a coach, or have one already, consider your current major business goals and ask yourself whether a business coach, or a niche marketing and sales coach, is the right choice for you and your business. Keep in mind that the answer may be, “both.” Then remember to continually reevaluate this decision as your major business goals change.