11 Ways to Get the Most Out of Working With a Coach

Picking up new skills is an essential part of being a successful entrepreneur. A coach can help -- but you have to put in the work.

learn more about Stephen Key

By Stephen Key


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've been teaching a course, inventRight, with Andrew Krauss for nearly 15 years now. It's a pleasure. We're dedicated to teaching people how to license their ideas. We continue to give a lot of our insight and methodologies away for free -- but people still need help. Selling a product idea to a company isn't inherently difficult, but there are a lot of steps along the way. We teach the different skills and practices required to succeed.

I always like to say, "Find someone who's doing what you want to do and learn from him or her." It's the quickest route to success. You'll avoid making some of their mistakes along the way. At the end of the day, it's you who will have to dive in. Coaches can help.

Related: Coaching Makes All the Difference

The way I see it, education is inherently tied to entrepreneurism. To become an entrepreneur is to value and seek out knowledge. We're students of life, really. Could we be better students? Maybe.

I'm always thinking about how to help our students get more out of our course. So the other day I asked my team, "Tell me about your ideal student. How would she act? What would she do?" This list is compiled with their input. If you have a coach now, are you getting the most out of that relationship? If you've thought about joining a coaching program, are you willing to do what it takes to succeed?

1. Secure a level of trust with your coach. Early on, get personal. Tell your coach about who you are, including your likes, dislikes, hobbies and work experience. People work together better when they feel comfortable enough to articulate questions and concerns. What your coach learns about you will help him determine which strategies and action steps are the most likely to help you become successful.

2. Be open-minded. No one has all the answers. Your coach is there to work with you. Focus on listening.

3. Get in the habit of recapping what you've learned via action steps. What are you going to do next? Document it. Share your intentions with your coach. You won't forget what's expected of you next.

4. Stay consistent. Schedule calls as needed. Some students go too long without scheduling a call because they don't want to bother their coach. That's the wrong way of looking at it! Your coach wants to stay on top of your progress. Check in frequently, whether it's to review homework, discuss an update or ask a question. Pick up the phone if the subject matter has weight.

Related: 4 Crucial Qualities of Phenomenal Coaches

5. Make the focus of your course a top priority. Actively work toward accomplishing assigned tasks each week. Look for ways to get the work done, not for excuses as to why you couldn't.

6. Set realistic goals about the time you have available to pursue your goals and your ability to succeed. Set goals that inspire and drive -- not overwhelm and depress.

7. Listen with the intent to take action. What do I mean? Focus on action steps at all times. There's a big difference between passively taking something in and actively noting what needs to be done to move the ball down the court. Engage with the knowledge your coach imparts. Coaching is a two-way street. All the instruction in the world won't help if it falls on deaf ears.

8. Don't be afraid to get real. This is your coach. They are here to help. Having a coach, especially one you've hired, is a unique experience. Maybe you've never opened up about your ideas before. Maybe you've never verbalized your ambitions out loud. Now is the time. This is what it's all about. And, being able to clearly and concisely express a message is an invaluable skill you will use over and over again.

9. Do the work. Better yet, return asking for more. If you want monetize your ideas, you're going to need to be enthusiastic.

10. Be patient. Nothing happens overnight. At the same time, you need to maintain a sense of urgency. Accept the process for what it is, that it might take longer than you want. There's no point in letting forces out of your control frustrate you. But do everything in your power that you can. It's a balancing act, to be sure.

11. Don't let projects sit too long. Follow up, follow up -- and then follow up some more. Use any down time to learn even more and in turn, better prepare yourself for the future.

If you follow these steps, you'll get the most out of working with a coach.

Related: 4 Reasons You Should Seek Out a Business Coach

Stephen Key

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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