Some People Have a Therapist. I Have a Business Coach.
Here's why I think having a business coach is invaluable for any entrepreneur.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We all have issues. For many people, those issues tend to be related to personal goals and problems, such as relationships and the like. For me, my anxiety, focus, goals and frustrations seem to mostly be around business.
So, while many people hire therapists, I have the business equivalent: a business coach.
I have been working with my coach, Alan Roby, for close to six years. We "meet" via phone for an hour, usually twice a month. He has helped me to not only transition myself from investment banker to a media and entrepreneurial hybrid, but he is a constant source of support.
While coaches can vary in price -- from less than $100 to several hundred dollars or more per session -- price shouldn't be the deciding factor. You want to find a coach who understands you and your business and that you are comfortable with, but also one that will push back on you, too. Hiring a "yes man" (or woman) won't produce a good return for your investment.
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Design Their Lives and Businesses for Success
Getting recommendations can be a good place to start on your search for a coach. Also do some research online and then try out a few in a complimentary or low-cost initial session (which most coaches offer) to get a feel with whom you think would be the best fit for your needs.
Here's why I think that this type of business therapy is helpful and how you and your business can benefit from it.
I pay to only talk about me and my business
I'm an advisor -- it's the role I play in life. That role is so prevalent that for a while, my nickname was Lucy (a la "The Dr. Is IN" from the Peanuts cartoon). Personally and professionally, I give advice to solve other people's problems.
This means that most of the time, I am not focused on or talking about my development.
By paying a business coach, I get, for a full-hour at a time, to talk about and focus on nothing other than me, my problems, my opportunities, my goals and did I mention me? It forces me to schedule time to work on my own business, time that I would likely have spent helping someone else. This discipline has been invaluable in morphing my professional life and growing my business endeavors.
Additional business knowledge
While I do have many friends who would oblige listening to me if I asked, many don't understand business. So, their help isn't so helpful in problem solving. Having a savvy business person in my corner gives needed perspective, such as seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak, from someone whose input is relevant.
Related: Why Smart People Make Bad Entrepreneurs
Consistency and history
Having a history of working together allows my coach to see patterns or to reference things and opportunities that I have mentioned in the past that I may have overlooked or even forgotten, but that could be helpful in the present and the future.
Because my coach is a paid advisor and not a friend, he will call me on the few occasions where I need to be called out. Friends, family and even colleagues are often hesitant to do this because they have a multi-faceted relationship with me and want to keep up the "warm fuzzies" in our interactions. The coaching relationship is aligned around helping me to succeed, which gives my coach more freedom to be honest and helpful.
On the other side of the coin, I am also brutally honest with my coach, because I know that there is no judgment. I don't have to worry about hurting someone else's feelings or being vulnerable. Not that I am one to really be anything other than brutally honest, but I still feel like I have more liberty to deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of my moods, challenges, etc. because I know that he will help me to work through those, without having to worry about it making family dinner awkward.
So, whether you are seeking discipline, a forum to vent or even a sanity check without judgment, I recommend that you invest in a business coach to help your business get to the next level.