How to work with a coach

By Jill Chivers

It’s a great idea to work with a business coach to get you and your business where you need to go. If you don’t have the right expertise, experience or skills to get your business where you want to take it, then a coach is often the best option to help you design and stick to a path that will do just that.

I have been fortunate enough to work with many entrepreneurs to get their businesses going.

And I’ve been on the other side of hiring coaches to help me with various parts of my business.

Here are a few simple things to make working with a coach productive, creative and successful.

Pick the right coach

Sounds bleeding obvious, and it is, but it’s amazing how often people don’t spend the time to assess if this coach is the right coach for them, at this juncture in time. I can’t tell you the number of stories I have heard of entrepreneurs and start-ups spending literally thousands on a coach who didn’t deliver what they needed or wanted.  The next point may  help you hone in what it is you need from working with your coach.

Have some idea what you need upfront

This will really help your coach to deliver what you need – if you have some idea what that is. You may need help developing your website, or your products. You may need help in planning and strategizing. You may need help staying organised and keeping on track. You may need help marketing and promoting yourself and your business (and its services/products). You may need help with a book idea.

You can’t (and it isn’t necessary to) know everything you need up front – some things just have to evolve.  But if you have some idea when you first hire your coach of what you want them to help you do and achieve, it will make your experience with that coach all the more successful.

Have the money to pay for it

Another simple idea, but it’s amazing how many start-ups don’t have the money to keep going with the coaching when they first hire a coach.  This can be very disappointing for you, as you get started with your coach, and you’re all excited about what’s possible – and then you run out of juice to keep the coaching (and your work together) going.  It’s like a train that got a fabulous start out of the station, then puffed to a stop a mile down the track – a long way from its intended destination.

Being too tight on money can also make the work very tricky with your coach.  It’s okay to have a budget, many start ups do.  But to be always tight on money is a different thing altogether – it can make you very stressed, which is not a great state of mind to be in when you are working with your coach to reach certain goals.

So be clear on what you have the funds for and communicate that to your coach.  Many coaches can work within a budget, if they know what it is upfront.

Whatever you do, please don’t hire a coach and then refer ceaselessly (or even more than once) to the amount you are spending with them and how you “just hope you’ll get it back one day”. This is not all that professional, and frankly it’s very dispiriting to the coach who is doing their very best for you and does not need to be reminded that you are spending your hard-earned cash on their services.

Give feedback

A coach is a person. Yes, they are a professional you are paying, but they are also a human being with their own lives, projects, thoughts and feelings. It’s great for your working relationship if you provide your coach with feedback about your work together. A good guideline is to share twice as many positives as any negatives or suggestions for improvement.

Your coach is not an indentured servant or an employee, but a partner (of sorts) in your business. If you can keep the relationship flowing with great communication, not only about the work you’re doing, but the process of working together, you’ll exponentially increase the creativity, productivity and success of the relationships. This is great for you, your business and your projects.