Blog Post

Business Strategy

You hire a coach because they're not you

Terry-Bell's avatar
Icon for Advisely Partner rankAdvisely Partner
6 months ago

In our first article for the Advisely community, we discussed the importance of benchmarks and how they help you get a clear handle on how your business is travelling compared to peers – where it outperforms or underperforms and where the potential is. 

Our second article discussed the importance of developing a plan for your business – armed with the knowledge of benchmarking, the owner is well-positioned to decide goals, strategies and actions which are realistic and achievable.

Of course, plans don’t always work out – not as planned, anyway! Sometimes they don’t deliver to their objectives; they don’t achieve their goals. No real surprise there, but in many cases the result is avoidable. It's been our experience that the biggest reason why plans fail is poor implementation. They just don’t get followed!

Enter the third component of successful business planning: someone to help the business owner implement the plan. This is a person who will objectively critique, offer constructive comment and guidance and, most relevantly, keep the business owner on plan.

As Carl Richards recently observed, "You don’t hire a coach because you’re stupid. You hire a coach because they’re not you. Other people can see things you clearly cannot see.”

An analysis of our HealthCheck database reveals that 45% of Australian practices are currently using the services of an external business adviser/coach. For larger, more complex businesses, they might convene with an advisory board on a regular basis (at least meeting on a quarterly basis).

Here’s who they’re turning to for advice:

  • PDM/BDM/relationship manager: 70%
  • Personal acquaintance/respected peer: 41%
  • CPA/accountant: 30%
  • Business coach (paid): 26%
  • Peer or study group who meet regularly: 9%

But what about the other 55%? Why, in such a disrupted and challenging environment, do the majority of business owners believe they can navigate their way through without any form of external input or accountability?

If you’re not already, why not consider working with a coach?

Two pre-requisites

Before you start looking for someone, there are at least two things you need. The first is an open mind – a willingness to listen, consider and generally accept the advice being given. Not much point seeking feedback if you’re not prepared to listen and action accordingly.

Second, there has to be a game plan for you and your coach to follow (all the better if they’ve maybe they’ve helped you to put it together). Nevertheless, a clearly documented, current plan for the business must exist: defined goals (measurable and achievable) and actions, with allocated responsibility and timeframes.

Choosing the ‘right’ coach for your business

Just as every business is different, it follows that some coaches are better-suited to work with some businesses over others. You don’t have to like your coach – but you have to respect their views and advice.

Why not start your search for a coach by talking within your network – who's already using a coach successfully? How is it working for them? What led them to choose who they did? Do they have any tips and suggestions for you?

Your BDM/PDM is a great resource for you here – they’ll be aware of who's currently using a coach and having success. And, of course, they may be willing and very capable to act in such a capacity with you.

Working together – top five tips

As with any other professional business relationship, the result/outcome will be directly proportional to the effort put in.

  1. Decide up front what you want to get from the arrangement. Both owner and coach need to be on the same page regarding the objectives of the coaching relationship – otherwise how can success be measured?
  2. Ideally your coach will bring experience and knowledge gained from outside your practice. After all, if you both think alike, one of you is obsolete.
  3. Meet regularly – no less than quarterly, and preferably monthly to begin with. They’re hard-baked into the calendar and aren’t deferred or cancelled without good reason. Doesn’t preclude ad hoc contacts if needed.
  4. Ensure all discussions are kept private and confidential. It's up to the owner to decide what can be communicated post-meeting and to whom.
  5. The arrangement is commercial as well as professional – the practice should pay a market-rate fee for the services the coach is providing. This applies even if you are using your B/PDM as your coach (you’re still paying for it one way or another).
For how long should I work with the same coach?

Our general view? For as long as you feel you're receiving benefit. However, it's also fair to recognise that, as with most professional relationships, there will come a time when it's "right" to end the arrangement and look to engage with someone new.

Don’t commit to an open-ended term. And as part of your annual business planning process, set time aside to consider your existing coaching arrangement and what tangible benefits came from the last 12 months. Are changes needed to the arrangement? Are you both still happy working together?

The payback

Engaging with a external adviser (business coach or advisory board) should always be viewed as an investment of your time, resources and money. And as such, an ROI should be expected. To this point – the results of our latest industry analysis, Future Ready IX, reveals that those practices who actively engage with a business coach are achieving a higher level of profitability (+39%) compared to their peers who aren’t.

Will 2024 be the year of your coach?

For your consideration.

Updated 5 months ago
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