As entrepreneurs we are wired to take on the world by ourselves. We dig in, work hard, and are determined to be self-made. Why would we need someone to tell us what to do? Isn't that why we started our own business in the first place, to avoid that?

I'm a firm believer in business coaches and mentors. In fact, I have multiple mentors and a longtime personal coach to help guide me through my own business and life challenges. These knowledge-building experts provide layers of value to the small business owner. They can spot your weak points, give objective outside counsel, and hold you accountable to your goals.

Experienced coaches have seen businesses grow throughout every stage and know the challenges that come with every step. Some entrepreneurs will never consider one because they feel either they know their business better than anyone else or they think they "should" know everything about their business. It can be difficult to swallow some pride and reach out for help. However, many small business owners are seeing the value of coaches. As a result, they are taking advantage of one of the greatest resources at their disposal.

Coaching and Education

A recent study conducted by Infusionsoft and Emergent Research, "Defining and Achieving Small Business Success," discovered that small business owners are increasingly using paid coaches for overcoming challenges. The survey had 402 U.S. respondents from businesses with 2-25 employees. In addition to that survey, 26 in-depth interviews were conducted with new small business owners/executives who self-identified as running successful small businesses. Almost all of those interviewed reported using one or more of these resources in overcoming business and personal challenges.

Several factors are driving the use of coaches and training. Business has gotten more complex and is changing more rapidly. Businesses are turning to expert coaches and training that they're willing to pay for to provide guidance on working through complex problems quickly. There simply is no longer the time to "learn while doing" or the margin of error to "learn by making mistakes."

The growing use, and importance, of technology is also leading to greater use of coaches and training. Keeping up with technological change is extremely hard for any business. Having the skills required to successfully deploy new technology is beyond the ability for most small businesses. Because of this, almost all the interviewed small business owners said they used paid technology coaches, consultants and training programs to help them.

Masterminds, Mentoring and Metrics

Most of the successful small business owners we interviewed said they used coaches and unpaid mentors to improve their management and leadership skills, help them set and achieve goals and work through difficult business problems and decisions.

They also mentioned they often turned to unpaid mentors and coaches for emotional support, especially when faced with difficult decisions.

Several of those interviewed specifically mentioned a coach or mentor helping them to get over their fear of hiring their first employee. Interestingly enough, the larger firms surveyed also report using coaches and mentors to help their managers improve their skillsets and assist in decision-making. These firms clearly see the value of mentors and coaches and are expanding their use. The interviewed small business owners warned that not all coaches or mentors were effective or worth their fees. They also said good coaching was extremely valuable and more than worth their investments in these areas.

Three Reasons Why You Need a Coach

  • Personal Growth: Take advantage of those who've walked the path before you. There's much to be learned from those who've been there and done it before us. Sure, times have changed over the years in how we do business, but there are fundamental and enduring principles involved with running a successful business and dealing with people, especially the one you see in the mirror every day. There is no shame in getting help. Work smarter, not harder.
  • Save Time: You simply don't have the time to stay on top of the latest changes in Facebook ads, PPC, SEO and so on. As business gets more complex and the pace of change increases, leverage an experienced coach or mentor to save you and your team time and money.
  • Leverage Technology: There's more technology offerings designed for small businesses today than ever before, and these solutions can really transform your business and life. The problem is most small business owners don't have the time or knowhow to implement these tools. So leverage an expert resource to help guide you on the journey to success.

Don't be afraid to get help. Successful small business owners look to coaches, mentors, education and training for themselves and their employees to help overcome challenges, learn new skills and deal with complexity. They see help as a way to improve themselves and their business's competitiveness.

So what are you waiting for? Go ask for the help you need in your business to overcome the challenges you're facing! You, your team and your customers will likely all benefit.

Published on: Aug 11, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.