If you're a small business owner, you probably know at least one business coach. You may even be one. It is a field that has exploded over the last few years. For small business owners, having someone to bounce your ideas off can be a truly valuable thing. That said, the main reason so many business coaches have popped up over the last half-decade or so is that it is easy to set up shop.

With the ubiquity of the Internet, all a business coach needs to get started is a website. Overhead is extremely low. What's more, there are no real certifications needed. In short, a coach becomes a coach by standing up and announcing him or herself as a coach. The downside of this dynamic is that the most competent business coaches are lumped in with all the rest.

It wasn't always this way. The earliest business coaches were almost uniformly qualified individuals--successful entrepreneurs, business owners, and modern-day philosophers--mainly because there were hardly any of them. Dan Sullivan, founder of the twenty-five year old, multimillion dollar Strategic Coach says that when he first went into business most people thought they were a bus company.

So what is a qualified expert in the information economy to do?

The answer is the same as so much else in the world of business: Specialize.

Take for example the New York company AcceleratingCFO, a firm started by two former Fortune 500 executives who felt they could impart their strategic knowledge to the entrepreneurs who needed it most. Yet instead of announcing themselves as one of many business coaching operations, they present themselves as CFO consultants--experts in using the quantitative aspects of an organization to make qualitatively strong business decisions.

Or take John Palumbo, the founder of Big Heads Network. A successful businessperson many times over, he teaches organizations to combine unrelated concepts to form innovative solutions. Despite the advice and counsel he provides, never once does the word coaching cross his lips or his website.

The market for expertise is as strong as it has ever been and can provide massive opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs. Getting specific around the precise value you offer and then crafting your messaging around that specificity is what every would-be business coach needs to do to thrive in the second decade of the 21st century and beyond.

Published on: Sep 18, 2015