smb-tech-trendsFeeling stuck in your small business? Maybe things aren’t moving ahead the way you want and your goals seem out of reach. Friends and business associates can offer advice, but you may need a business coach to help you get out of the rut you are in. Think of a business coach as a personal trainer. You know you need to get in shape but can’t do it on your own. A personal trainer can show you what you need to do. A business coach works much the same way.

Unlike a consultant who you bring on board to help pinpoint areas that need change and provide solutions; a business coach works right alongside you to help you discover whatever is holding you back. Be prepared to get uncomfortable. Your coach will ask tough questions to get to the heart of the matter.

What a business coach can do for you

Track RecordAccountability may be one of the most important things a business coach can do for you. Being the boss means you have no one standing over you. There’s where your coach comes in. Your coach will keep you focused to take the necessary actions to keep you and your small business on track.

Maybe you need to delegate more of the day-to-day operations of your small business or outsource responsibilities. You may need to change your management style to give team members more autonomy and flexible work options. With today’s mobile devices and cloud computing, your workforce truly can be anywhere and just as, if not more, productive. You may even decide taking on a partner is the right way to go. Your coach will help you examine options and consider the risks and benefits of each.

Ask questions to find the right coach

If you decide a business coach is right for you, here are questions to ask of potential candidates:

Relevant experience: Ask for client references and be sure the coach has relevant experience in the area where you need help. Also find out if the coach works with small businesses. Some coaches have more experience with large corporations and may not understand the challenges of small business ownership.

Qualifications: Find out if a coach has accreditation since there are training institutes and certification that coaches can achieve. Keep in mind that accreditation is not a substitute for years of experience and a track record of success with clients, however,

Personality: Determine if the person is someone you want to work with. While the end goal should be the same of any coach you choose, everyone has a different style. You need to work with someone you like and can relate to.

Process: How you will work together is another area to explore. Some coaches work over the phone; others will want to meet weekly to talk. In some cases, you may be asked to keep a journal or get reading assignments. Make sure the process works for you and fits with your work style and schedule.

Results: Ask what you can expect as the outcome of your relationship and what happens if you don’t get the results you want.

Fees: Coaches generally charge on an hourly rate, though some offer a package for a set number of hours. Coaches can be expensive. Ask for an estimate of the hours you’ll need to get the results you want. Keep in mind that a lot will depend on what you put into the effort, too.

Have you ever worked with a business coach? How did it help you and your small business?