A good business coach can transform your business. Consider this real case study of a family-owned business that increased sales from $10,000 pm to $90,000 pm in 12 months with coaching. Ask any multi-millionaire or billionaire the secret to their success, and you’ll hear one common response…

“I had a great mentor and coach”. 

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Alphabet (formerly CEO of Google), says the best advice he ever got was to hire a business coach. Bill Gates credits Warren Buffett in coaching him to deal with tough situations. Richard Branson credits Sir Freddie Laker when he struggled to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground.

According to Branson, “It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.” But, what exactly, is a business coach and what can one do for you?

What Is a Business Coach?

In a nutshell, a business coach is an expert...

  • Who provides guidance to move your business in the right direction.
  • Gives you the support you need to make high quality decisions.
  • Offers insight into what you’re doing well and can do better.
  • Helps shape your company’s culture and people management.
  • Helps craft a business plan to increase sales.

Consider this real-life case study pulled from the success archives of ActionCOACH, the world’s #1 business coaching franchise:

900% Increase in Sales in One Year

Conron Stockcrete is a family business owned by Rachel and Joel Conron.

The business started as a part-time enterprise. However, it morphed into a full-time operation 2 years after its founding. When business coaching began just over a year ago, Rachel and Joel were operating out of a borrowed family shed.

Sales were patchy and sitting at $10,000 per month. After an extensive analysis, their business coach identified 4 key areas of improvement:

  1. Rachel and Joel’s self-belief about what they could accomplish.
  2. Cashflow issues (they both felt a bank wouldn’t give them an overdraft).
  3. Facilities to ramp up production.
  4. Recruitment, management and review of staff.

Key Actions and Changes

  1. Improving the Recruitment Process: Joel and Rachel didn’t believe they could ‘find the right staff’ in a small regional centre. So their coach helped them build a system to recruit and employ the right people. Their coach also showed them how to hold staff accountable to targets. Result: They now have a great team and Joel is no longer required in the shed at all.
  2. Systemised the Sales Process: Their business growth expert helped remove Joel from production to free him up and work on a sales system. Result: Major orders with a government authority continuing to supplement growing orders from retail and account clients. Production is close to capacity.
  3. Marketing - Knowing What Works: Their business coach helped create a robust marketing plan that will continue to increase sales going forward. Parts of the marketing plan focus on a major website revamp. It also includes a system for testing and measuring marketing spend to track what works. This makes their spend accountable.

The Results

  • Sales have increased from $10,000 / month to $95,000 / month in just 1 year.
  • Double the current production facility and sales in the business.
  • Purchase surrounding farmland for cropping/ livestock enterprise.
  • Establish and pursue licensing agreements for future residual income
  • Hired 3 full-time production workers.

What Traits Should I Look for in a Business Coach?

Many of the world’s best business coaches tend to share a common list of traits. Amongst others, look out for the following:

Patterns of Success: One highly successful business mentor is a national competitive horse rider. Another won two Super Rugby Finals while playing for the Warritahs and Reds. So check to see if a business coach has excelled in other fields, such as sports. Success leaves clues!

Balance Between Patience and Accountability: Your mentor should understand the position you’re coming from, such as if you need some time to make the necessary changes they suggest.

Real World Experience: Real world experience is hard to trump. A successful business coach North of Brisbane was part of a team that grew a start up from $800k to $26m in 5 years. So be on the lookout for a business growth expert that’s profitably sold their business before embarking on a business coaching career.

Holds You Accountable: A good business coach won’t let you quit when things go south. Instead, they’ll make you push your limits and help take the necessary steps towards success.

A "Knack" For Procedures and Systems: Systems free you from being trapped in your business. So a business coach that’s talented with systems is particularly valuable. One such business coach worked for 11 years at a bank. She set herself up as the “go to” person for Back Office Operations. She always made sure to learn new systems and processes - in her own words she was “relentless in my search for answers and following systems”.

Previous Coaching Experience: In a prior career, a successful business mentor in Bendigo was a healthcare leadership coach in the Public Sector. He always wanted to help and support others to be the best versions of themselves. Previous coaching experience is a good indicator of a great business coach. That’s because some of the best coaches feel they’re born teachers - that kind of mission and purpose is truly irreplaceable!

Why Do You Need a Business Coach?

It’s time to cover a few concrete situations to show you why you may need a business coach. All these examples are real-life case studies pulled from ActionCOACH’s success archives:

Nigel and Kath were having cashflow problems in their fencing and landscaping business. Not only that, they’d been burnt many times with the hiring of new staff - try as they might they couldn’t find great talent. (After coaching their revenue tripled and their profits increased by 800%. The couple now own over 60 investment properties).

Jock and Hamma's business had a good reputation for its innovative products. It had grown steadily over the years and had much more growth potential available. But they were both stuck in the day-to-day running of their business. This was taking their focus away from working “on” the business to grow further. So they needed help with their systems and talent recruitment. (After coaching, revenue soared from $3.5 million to $8.5 million. A General Manager runs the business, which frees Jock and Hanna from the day-to-day).

Lifestyle by Design didn’t start out as an award-winning building company. Owners Brad Schram and Nick Black started as a small carpentry business and grew organically over the years. But they couldn’t seem to grow the business and they weren’t making a lot of money. In short, the business was stuck at $1.4 million per year turnover. Brad and Nick were putting in a lot of effort for little return. (After coaching, their revenue skyrocketed from $1.48 million to $6 million).

A Tradie Auckland is a husband and wife business that didn’t earn enough for the owners to live on. They needed the wife’s salary to pay some of the mortgage and provide a little life style. But then, when the couple started a family, there was an urgent need to improve profitability. Furthermore, 70% of their sales came in summer, making it a difficult business to run the rest of the year. And finally, the owners were working long, long hours for little payoff. (After coaching revenue leapt from $750,000 to $1.49 million per year).

Owning (and running) a business can be challenging at the best of times. After years of running their business, many owners begin to fatigue. For some, the passion starts to fade away.

A good business mentor can help you rediscover that lost passion. A great business coach can help you find the motivation even after the coaching is over!

How Do You Find the Right Business Coach?

Well, this is where you’ll have to do some research. It’s important you take your time and find a coach that’s right for you and your business. Here are 6 steps to follow:

Step #1: Discover your purpose
The first step is to think about what it is exactly that you’re trying to accomplish. Not every business coach can meet your needs equally well. To find the one, you need to have clear goals first.

Step #2: Hop online
The next step is to shop around for a coach. Obviously, the Internet is a great place for that. One of the most useful keywords to use is “business coach”.

Step #3: Check references
Once you’ve hopped online and shortlisted a few business coaches, seek out testimonials from their clients.

Step #4: Check the track record
The next thing you should do is look to see if a coach who has already achieved what you’re striving towards - there really is no better proof! Plus, a coach that meets this attribute will deeply understand the unique challenges you’re faced with.

Step #5: Probe, probe, probe
Once you’ve done enough research and narrowed down your choices, it’s time to get to know the coach a bit more.
Don’t just ask a coach whether they can help you. Ask them to explain HOW they can do it. Look for specifics. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions. Go through every detail before you decide whether the coach will be able to help you reach your goals.

Step #6: Take your time
Lastly, remember to take your time and think things through. Don’t let a good pitch draw you in immediately.
Take the time to ensure you’re in alignment with your potential coach’s expertise. A good coach will never make you rush this process in the first place, so that’s another factor to consider.

What Are the Red Flags of a Bad Business Coach?

It’s fine if you’re not able to find the right coach straight away. However, it’s essential that you know who to steer away from immediately.

The first red flag is a coach that tries to make you depend on them. Some coaches will manipulate their clients into believing that they won’t succeed without their help. If this happens to you, look for someone else right away.

The second red flag is if you recognize a business coach is intentionally overwhelming you. A good coach helps bring you clarity. In turn, you feel less pressure, which makes you more confident about your future. If the coach is burdening you with all kinds of unnecessary demands, they’re not doing their job well.

This isn’t to say that a business coach shouldn’t push you. You already know that it’s one of the main things the good ones do. Take their advice and go out of your comfort zone. Still, make sure to draw a line between productive work and effort that makes you lose your focus.

The third red flag is a coach that can’t relate to you or your business. Every good business mentor has the ability to understand their client’s business.

The fourth red flag is a business coach that misdiagnoses what’s holding your business back. This is a tough one to identify because chances are you’re struggling with the same challenge! This is why it’s so important to find a coach with real world wisdom.

The fifth red flag is a business coach that doesn’t map out 90-day and 12-month plans. You see, it’s important to chart your progress over the short-term and long-term. This way you objectively assess if progress is happening.

What Are the Common Challenges That Every Business Faces?

Owning a business can be challenging at the best of times. The key challenges that every business faces include:

  • No growth
  • Low sales
  • Cashflow issues
  • Staffing problems
  • Long hours and sleepless nights
  • Never-ending paperwork
  • Long working hours
  • Mindset
  • Competitors stealing customers

Consider this real world case study pulled from the ActionCOACH success archives:

Junglefy experienced what many companies face – internal underdevelopment. Even though their green wall business had gained a stellar reputation, it just couldn’t keep growing. Hanna, the company’s CEO, didn’t have enough time to focus on growth, as she was busy with the day-to-day operations. So they hired an ActionCOACH.

The first thing that ActionCOACH did for Junglefy was the development of systems that “professionalised” the business. This included control systems, KPI introduction, and many other systems that helped the business grow internally. Hanna was also able to appoint a general manager so that she could manage her time better and focus on growing the business further.

The results were team growth as well as revenue growth of $5 million to $8.5 million within a couple of years.

How we can help

Now that you know what it is that a business coach can do for you, it’s time to consider whether you could use one. As you can see from the examples above, a good business mentor can help your business grow in many different ways.

So far, ActionCOACH has helped numerous business owners achieve their goals. Our experts have solved a large number of business-related issues in a variety of industries. If you want to know more about the possibilities, Click here to find a coach in your local area.

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Written by ActionCOACH April 17, 2024
ActionCOACH is recognised as the creator and most successful practitioner of business and executive coaching methodology that offers owners and managers a new perspective on their businesses and companies.