If you're looking to take the next step in your entrepreneurial growth, one of the best investments you can make is in a business coach. Whether you want to increase your sales or improve your hiring strategy, this person can act as an invaluable resource.
Like any professional relationship, you'll want to find a coach with whom you feel a strong connection and rapport. More importantly, you should seek out someone who understands the industry you're in and the unique challenges you're facing. If you're in the market for a business coach, follow these tips from eight seasoned entrepreneurs.
Consider virtual coaches as well as local ones.
A local coach you can meet with face to face may sound like the best approach, but it can be restrictive when it comes to scheduling, according to Blair Thomas, co-founder of eMerchantBroker. "By finding a coach that is available online, such as via video conferencing, you are opening yourself up to a wider pool of individuals," he says.
"Video conferencing can be just as energetic and beneficial as meeting face to face," Thomas notes. As well, when you are not bound by location, you can find a coach who specializes in a certain industry or has some other attribute that works best for your needs.
Make sure you feel comfortable opening up.
Rachel Beider, CEO of Massage Outpost, reveals that a great business coach should push your boundaries and help you get out of your own way.
"Feeling vulnerable and comfortable with your coach will help you establish a real connection, where you can feel good about being brutally honest about your fears," she says. "I have worked with a phenomenal business coach who helped me level up by pushing me hard and providing support."
Ask for details about how they work.
Anyone can call themselves a business coach. That's why Vik Patel, CEO of Future Hosting, recommends finding out some details about the coach's process, their past successes and their industry experience before hiring them.
"Get specific," he advises. "The job title 'business coach' covers a lot of ground, and you need to be sure that your aims for your business match with the coach's skill set and processes."
Find someone who shares your long-term vision.
One of the most important things to look for in a business coach is a shared long-term vision, according to Sunny Desai of Desai Hotel Group.
"It helps to make sure that every decision you are trying to make is aligned with your end goal," says Desai. "Start with discussing how they would approach your current situation to see if there is true alignment."
Look at their track record.
Michael Hsu, founder and CEO of DeepSky, believes that it's crucial to find a coach who practices what they preach.
"Knowing what to do and doing what must be done are two very different things," he explains. "A coach who eats their own dog food will understand the little nuisances and how to deal with them when life gets in the way."
Seek similar industry experience.
To truly learn from someone, you want to know that they've experienced a similar path of development as you have, and that they'll understand the specific areas in which you need support, says Stanley Meytin, CEO of True Film Production
"A coach who has been where you are can give personal advice on how to thrive moving forward and won't waste time trying to understand you," he adds.
Find a coach whose values align with yours.
While your business coach doesn't need to share your exact mindset, Angela Ruth of Calendar believes they should be similar enough to understand what you respond to, your learning style and your overall value system.
"I need someone who understands how I think and approach things," she says.
Avoid hiring a clone of yourself.
On the flip side, Dan Golden, co-founder of BFO (Be Found Online), doesn't think you should look for a coach who is too similar to yourself.
"Focus on someone you think you would respect and listen to," says Golden. "Often there's a tendency to find someone who's like yourself, but what you really need is a different perspective and a different style to make that breakthrough you desire."