Have you ever wondered how having a business coach could change the fortunes of your company?

CEO’s and business owners know that when it comes to charting their way through stormy waters of their company’s future, it’s always lonely at the top. Why? Because the buck always stops at their desk! If there’s a tough decision to be made, it is they that need to make it. And often times, entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by that thought.

With a savvy coach by your side however, it doesn’t have to be that lonely at all!

What to look for in your business coach?

The idea of using or having a coach isn’t new at all.  Business interns and apprentices know how much they owe to the fact that there always was someone to turn to for seeking advice and counsel when the going gets tough.  It is that same concept behind using a business coach in the “real” business world.

So what is it that business owners should look for in someone offering them business coaching services? Here are four traits that a great business coach must possess:

  1. Knowledge: Look for someone that brings a broad swath of knowledge to the table. It’s true that you are looking for a “coach” for business situations, but with knowledge beyond just the business world, a coach will be much more effective to you
  2. Experience: A coach is meant to be someone that’s “been there, done that!”, and then passes the benefit of that experience to his/her protégées. Preferably (but not necessarily), having a business coach with experience in the same niche as your company will serve you well in the long run
  3. Personality: It’s far easier to ask a “silly” question from a coach that’s personable and easy to get along with, than of someone that has a very unapproachable personality. That’s because 99% of learning comes from asking questions – especially the “silly” ones!
  4. Patience: As a corollary to the previous trait, business coaching is all about having the patience to explain new concepts, and to motivate and influence entrepreneurs and business leaders to succeed. Look for someone that is willing to take however long it requires to guarantee your success

While there is no oral or written test that business owners can administer to a potential business coach to determine if they have these qualities, you can – through extensive pre-qualification interviews and meetings – get a sense of whether he/she is a right fit for you. A thorough evaluation of their business coaching credentials is also essential.

The benefits of having a business coach

Running a business is much like going to school: You learn something new every day! Unfortunately, unlike students in an academic setting, for entrepreneurs and CEOs the stakes are too high to learn from failure. 

A business coach can help mitigate some of the risks of failure. And here’s how:

  1. Decision-making made easier: You’ll have your coach to turn to when you are faced with an unfamiliar decision or situation. Since they are likely to have weathered similar storms in their own careers, your decision-making challenges will be that much easier to overcome
  2. Problem-solving made lighter: A business coach is someone that has the ability to look at a problem is a totally different way than a business owner does. That’s because he/she is one-step removed from the “action”, and can bring objectivity into the problem-solving process. You can leverage their knowledge and experience to make your problem-solving burdens that much lighter
  3. Challenging your ideas: Not everything you think of doing is right, but because you are the boss, no one below you will dare to challenge you. A good business coach can be “carefrontaional” (caring yet confrontational) in their critique, allowing you to review/revise your ideas for the better
  4. Spotting opportunities more clearly: For most professional coaches, business coaching is about helping their wards/students to excel at what they are doing. When you run a business challenge by your coach, because of their years of experience they are more likely to see opportunities where you might see a challenge
  5. Be more effective with your time: An effective business coach will help you learn to delegate more, which will leave you more time to focus on vision, planning and leading.

The bottom line on business coaching

When trying to run a successful business, you’ll almost always come across situations that are alien to you. However, some coaches just have academic credentials, but lack real business exposure.

Gary Takacs is the founder of The CEO University is a US-based, CEO and Executive Peer Group Organization that creates opportunities for accelerated business growth and personal development  through CEO Peer Group Meetings that are CEO-led, one-to-one mentoring focused on unique business and personal challenges, and purposeful  learning events.  This is Business Coaching on steroids.