When people compete in sport, whether joining a team or individually, to be the best they can be they have a coach. Generally there is no question about it. When people are employed in a role or are progressing through their career they usually have a supervisor or mentor or someone to help them improve. So why is it when these same people go into business, probably one of the hardest and most challenging things anyone will ever do, they believe they don’t need help?

Building a successful business requires knowledge, skills and guidance from a host of people both inside and outside an organisation. More often than not someone like a business coach.

Whether you like the title or description business coach or not is irrelevant however every business and business owner need people with varied skills to challenge them, assist them and ultimately grow their business and achieve their objectives. The actual role played is hard to define because it can cover so many aspects of a business and it moves with the life-cycle of the business.

The fact is running a business is hard work. In Australia, various studies highlight that approximately 70% of small businesses fail within the first two years of operation and many of the businesses that do survive are not profitable. A business coach, an advisory board or even a trusted adviser (hopefully your accountant) can help start-ups navigate tricky situations, offer advice on when and how to bring on investors, and help founders make sure that every new hire is relevant.

A good coach will challenge you to reach higher or push harder, they won’t just say yes to all of your ideas but rather ensure you consider other alternatives and select the best idea, and they will offer sound advice and direction from a position of experience and independence. You see whenever someone goes into business it is usually because they are very good at a trade or profession or skill and figure they can apply that same skill in their own business and have more time or money. The problem is, in the majority of cases, they have never been shown how to run a business or completed any studies in business and the result is less time and definitely less money. So doesn’t it make sense to have someone who can help these businesses to be all that they can be? A coach.

A good friend of mine was telling me recently about when he interviewed Wesfarmers’ CEO, Richard Goyder. He asked him what was the best tool he had utilised in his career that has led to his success? His response…a coach. This is the CEO of a company with revenues of over $63 billion, pretty successful right, and he is saying his most important business tip is to have a coach. We need to listen to the masters.

I personally coach several business owners, individual businesses and groups of businesses and consider myself to know a bit about the subject. And yes, I too have a coach; in fact I have a combination of coaches and mentors all serving a different purpose. Because we can all continue to learn and be challenged but more importantly, you can too easily negotiate with yourself and a coach brings accountability to get things done.

At our firm, our team are not simply great accountants but also very good business advisers, mentors and coaches to business owners. How far could your business go with the right guidance and advice? You do need to ensure you have the right person or people though and when considering a coach or an advisory board, I would ask the following questions:

  • What do you want out of the relationship?
  • How often do you want to meet or communicate?
  • Are you after one-on-one support or would a group session suit?
  • What sort of experience are you looking for?
  • Are you ready to listen and dedicate the time required?

Many business owners battle with the issue of whether they can afford coaching…I would ask them whether they cannot.