Have you ever wondered about what it would be like to be a business coach? Do you think that advising and teaching entrepreneurs could be a good career for you?
If so, this tutorial can help you find out if business coaching is a viable option. We cover what it means to be a business coach, the pros and cons of the industry, and what it takes to get in and be successful in this field.
What is Business Coaching?
A business coach is a person who provides dedicated assistance to an entrepreneur, usually in a small and medium-sized business. Coaches can serve as a sounding board for ideas, a strategic planner, or an accounting partner. They can even be more active consultants helping to solve specific problems. Usually, however, the business coach acts more like a trusted advisor.
A survey by The Alternative Board (TAB), a business coaching group, found that when it comes to business advisers, 31 percent of business owners trust business owners, while 24 percent trust a business coach. Employees, lawyers, and friends rank much lower on the list. Clearly, business coaches are one of the first trusted people that entrepreneurs turn to when they need help.
What Does It Take to Become a Business Coach?
Although there is no strict list of credentials required to become a business coach, there are some skills and traits that you will need on the job. Although this is not an exhaustive checklist, meeting the following criteria can ensure that you will be able to handle the challenges that come with acquiring and maintaining your first training clients:
Business-related background. Other business-related degrees are not required, you should have at least some experience with business, whether you are managing it, building it, or working on it. The closer prior experience you are to running or building a business, the better. Of course, having degrees, courses, training, or certifications in business, marketing, economics, accounting, and finance can also help.
Personal skills. Being a business consultant also requires a deep understanding of human behavior, probably more than having a business background. After all, 35 percent of business owners hire a business coach for their coaching style and philosophy, while the coach’s area of expertise comes in second at 27 percent. So, even without a business background, people with a psychology or social science background also do well as business consultants. The job often requires uncovering hidden motivations and obstacles, changing behaviors, and trying to convince clients to take action they might be reluctant to take – even if it is to their advantage.
Certification. Although not always a requirement, many business consultants obtain certifications from organizations that represent the industry, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), the World Coach Institute, and the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Coaches can also be approved by organizations such as non-profit organizations or universities. When considering certification, consider your goals, your clients, and the projects you want to work on. This will help you decide if certification is right for you and, if so, which option to follow.
Know your limits. This may seem like an odd requirement, but with the extensive services and experience that a business coach offers, it is inevitable that you will end up advising on topics in which you are not that experienced. This requires the humility and foresight to identify when psychotherapists, lawyers, accountants, and other specialized professionals should intervene.
With the variety of projects, a business coach has to deal with, it then makes sense to have the above mix of business, communication, and social skills to get the job done right.
How to Make Your Business Training Services Stand Out
One of the main challenges of marketing your business training services is, how exactly do you stand out? With other eager and qualified business trainers who can work from anywhere, why would potential clients choose you over them? Fortunately, there are several things a new business coach can do to make them more memorable and unique in their industry:
1. Choose a Specialization
The easiest way to stand out is to choose a very specific niche to serve or to choose a very specific problem to solve. For example, you can categorize yourself as the coach who focuses only on increasing profits. Alternatively, you could be the business coach helping small businesses that are developing software products. By being specific about who you serve or what you do, you become the go-to for that particular need rather than becoming “just another business coach” like most of your competitors.
2. Build a great network
Since 85 percent of entrepreneurs report that referrals are the most trusted methods of finding business coaches, it makes sense to build a strong and broad network of contacts to increase your chances of meeting potential clients.
Networking may seem more difficult than promoting yourself on LinkedIn, but it will be more effective if word of mouth is how coaches tend to get hired. If networking is too intimidating, either because you are typically introverted or find it difficult to make small talks during events, the guides below can help you through the process:
3. Have Strong Case Studies
If there’s one thing that can win over target customers, it’s your case studies, testimonials, and reviews. According to the TAB survey mentioned above, 53% of entrepreneurs are more confident from a business coach’s reviews and testimonials from previous clients.
Because of this, be sure to take the time to develop strong case studies and collect testimonials from your clients. The results of the survey above tell us that spending time on articles on social media instead might not have the same impact on entrepreneurs looking for a coach.
4. Quantify your contribution
A business coach who doesn’t track their impact through numbers is only guessing about their impact. The good news is that you have many options for quantifying the results that you work for. You can track a company’s sales, profits, savings, efficiency, productivity, and other valuable metrics that are relevant to the specific problems you are working on. With these metrics, you can clearly see if you are really helping your customers and can defend your role in the business.
5. Scale your Services
Some business coaches try to scale their services by offering classes, online courses, events, or books. It is wise to learn how to benefit from these efforts, whether you are converting them into products for sale or using them for marketing since you develop them only once – as opposed to one-on-one training and networking, which require your presence in real-time.
Is Business Coaching the Right Career for You?
Given the overview above of what it takes to do well as a business coach, you are in a better position to know if this career is a good alternative for you. If you decide to be a business coach, as long as you enjoy working with business owners, are comfortable with flexible projects, and are committed to your own marketing, you are definitely going to prosper.
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