More and more business owners are looking to business coaching instead of business consulting to help them in their business. This is a very positive move for owners. In some cases, consulting is required by business owners to uncover what is going on within the business in one or several areas. The problem with many consulting engagements is that in the final report is taken and filed away and the recommendations are never implemented. For the most part this is because there are not the skills within the company to do so. In this situation, finding out what the issue is within your business is only half of the problem, the other half is how you are going to go about resolving the issues or pain points. If you are not sure how to proceed, adding coaching onto your business consulting engagement can help. In other cases, consulting is chosen by owners, who are looking to have someone come in and perform the work and not involved in the process as they just want the work performed. The problem with this situation is that if you do not have an understanding of the work that was performed, how do you plan to keep things going after the consultant is gone.
In most cases business coaching or facilitation can be used to perform most of the same exercises as business consulting. When a business owner chooses this route, we find the individual(s) are fully engaged and are learning how to not only uncover the issue but also how to resolve it. We find those owners that are engaged and have an understanding of what is going on tend to be the most successful.
As a business owner, you are not expected to know everything about running a business and there should not be any shame in admitting that. As the owner and usually founder of the company you are an expert in the products and services that your firm provides and are not expected to be an expert in all areas of your business. Even for business owners who have a degree or background in business sometimes find they need help in an area that was not their focus in school. They have been a finance major and struggle with marketing or need help in their human resources area.
What is Business Coaching?
The goal of business coaching is to help you and your business move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. This is based on the goals and objectives of the firm. A business coach will help push you in areas that you are not as comfortable or knowledgeable and aid you in acquiring the skills to move your company forward. We utilize our own methodology to deliver business coaching to help our clients meet their goals. Each business coach will have their own approach to delivery, so it is important to understand the process for the business coach you are hiring.
Business coaching is to provide guidance, advice, and learnings with the goal of teaching the business owner “how to fish”. A business coach is there to bounce ideas off of and help you brainstorm what could work for your company. The business coach you use should have some level of experience in all areas of business, and should have a high-level of expertise in the areas you are struggling.
What Business Coaching Is Not?
We have business owners contact us who say they want to purchase business coaching until they find out the level of commitment and time required. Business coaching is not an advice hotline to ask questions on a weekly or biweekly basis. It follows a standard methodology and requires the business owner to dedicate time over several months at minimum to establish a path to meet one or two of your issues. The issues within your business did not happen overnight, so waving a magic wand will not resolve them after working with a coach for one session.
Business Coaching is also not about having someone tell you what to do. There is a misconception that a business coach will come in and tell you all of the things you need to do to solve your business issues and meet your goals. If that is the expectation, business coaching is probably not for you. A business coach is there to provide guidance and help challenge you but is not there to tell you what to do. This will not benefit you, as you need to learn why it is important and be able to perform what you learn after the coaching is over.
Our business coaching engagements are a minimum of 12 weeks (3 months). There is no way to solve major business issues and meet any goal within a shorter period. If a client is not willing to dedicate that much time to working on their problems, business coaching is not the service they should choose. We require all face-to-face consulting to be 2 hours in length. We suggest all coaching to be the same length of time, but will allow 1-hour sessions for remote coaching. There should be no more than 2 weeks between meetings, otherwise, momentum is lost.
The first thing we do is provide the business owner and any stakeholders involved in the coaching a detailed questionnaire to understand strengths and weaknesses as well as gain valuable information about your business today and your goals for the future.
Once we understand where you need help, we will determine which one of our business partners should be the primary business coach assigned. If the expertise of the other partner is needed during the engagement, a meeting will be arranged to address that issue with the appropriate partner.
We meet the first time with the client to review the questionnaire and develop a plan to address the issues outlined and prioritize the issues based on the importance to the business. For a 3-month engagement only 1 to 2 issues can be addressed, so the meetings will be developed around those issues that are hindering goals being met. There are then 12 hours of coaching plus an introductory and follow-up meeting.
Additional months or individual sessions can be purchased as required at any point, but it is important first to address the initial issue(s) and take them through to fruition before moving on to the next issue. If a business owner takes on too much at a time, there is a chance that they will become overwhelmed and not be able to meet their business goals. Keep in mind that there is a business still to run while you are involved in business coaching.
Each meeting will have an agenda where we will work on the issues outlined. At the end of each meeting, the business owner will be assigned homework to help move the issue forward and to test for their understanding.
The business owner will work on their homework, and the business coach will then prepare the information and materials for the next meeting. The business owner is free to email or call their business coach to ask questions at any time during the engagement. The homework itself can be provided through email or can be reviewed at the start of the next session
After the initial 12 hours of coaching, there will be a final meeting set-up with the client to review where they are and determine next steps. If it is felt , additional work is required on the current issues; additional hours or months can be purchased. If it is found there are new issues to address, another engagement can be acquired at that time.
There is not a true standards board to regulate business coaches in Canada; as there is with Accounting, and Legal professions. For this reason, it is important that due diligence is performed to make sure you find out what level of experience your business coach has before hiring them to help you with your business.
Our 2 Partners have 25 years each of experience in management and executive level positions within large, medium, and small business. One Partner is a CMA, CPA so our practice is governed by the Chartered Professional Accounting Association of Ontario. He is on the Board of Directors of Education Credit Union while our other Partner is on the Board of the Business Advisory Centre Durham. RK Fischer & Associates has been in business since 2010 providing business coaching and consulting to Canadian businesses, and we provide referenceable customers on our website.
It is important before you choose business consulting or business coaching for your business that you are able understand the differences and determine if you are someone that is more suited for business coaching or business consulting. If you are not someone that wants to learn how to do the work yourself or do not have the time to dedicate, business coaching may not be for you. If you are just looking for advice or for someone to tell you what to do, business coaching is probably not a fit. We have created a service (Business Helpline) for business owners who are just looking for advice or ad hoc help.
If you are interested in business coaching, be sure to set-up a free 30-minute consultation which you can book directly from our website and find out whether business coaching or consulting is best for your business.
RK Fischer & Associates