How to tell the difference between a truly effective business coach and a pretender.

Hi again. If you are looking for a business coach, executive coach, or a consultant to help you grow your small business, here are some things to consider.

As business around the world has become increasingly competitive, the demand for business coaching has increased. A few years ago, just a handful of small businesses used business coaching as a means to augment their business.

Today, statistics reveal that almost 58% of the medium or small sized businesses in the US are seeking the benefits of business coaching. Businesses are using coaching because it is a cost effective way to achieve results as it helps to develop personnel skills and performance.

Effective business coaching can offer new insights into daily business activities and have a dramatic impact on improving the methods, systems and procedures you rely on for continued success.

However, this dramatic increase in the demand for business coaching has created a tremendous challenge for those interested in engaging the services of a true professional.

Firms that have been offering proven business coaching principles and practices for many years are suddenly seeing their profession flooded with individuals and organizations claiming to be business coaches when, in fact, many are no more than consultants and mentors looking to take advantage of an often unsuspecting marketplace.

The challenge?

The business coaching industry has no watchdog. Which is leaving the business coaching landscape littered with broken businesses and wasted dollars that are the direct result of business coach impostors who never gave their clients a chance for business success.

The words “Buyer Beware” should ring loudly for an individual or organization that wants to avoid falling victim to the parade of pretenders who have simply invested a few dollars to have the words “Business Coach” hastily printed on business cards and letterhead in hopes that buyers wouldn’t ask too many questions.

True business coaching requires years of experience and understanding in order to be able to create the level of quality and productivity that results when employees are allowed to make a connection between their personal needs and those of the organization.

We’ll get to those 3 questions in a minute but first, to help you better understand what to look for in a business coach, it might be insightful to understand what Business Coaching isn’t.

• Business coaching is not business consulting -True business coaching does not involve inspecting your current problems, cobbling together a nice solution in a report and then leaving you alone to implement it. An effective business coaching solution involves a long term commitment with key leaders of a business in which solving problems takes second place to redefining the future and breaking away from the past.

• Business coaching is not executive coaching – Business coaching doesn’t solely involve helping a key leader develop but always takes the broader needs of the organization into consideration. There’s no point in coaching an executive into growth without giving him or her the ability to help the entire organization experience it as well. Business coaching focuses on revealing the motivation and the tools to create broad change in an organization in line with the expanding vision and capabilities of the leader.

• Business coaching is not mentoring – Although deep relationships can develop between a key executive and a business coach, a business coach is not there to be a friend or cheerleader. Effective business coaching involves a process of accountability in all aspects of a business. Increased revenues and profits, market share, innovation, decreased stress, diffusing employee tensions, and reducing employee turnover are all bench marks you should be using to measure a business coach’s effectiveness.

Business Coaching is an extraordinary relationship between two or more people that commit to a common goal or future for a business.

Business Coaching is directed toward the entire organization and is focused and committed to transforming the organization’s culture.

The client must be open to changing their current belief system in preparation for an effective approach to business that involves change, learning and growth.

Here are three questions that will allow you to cut through all the marketing hype so you can identify a business coaching organization that has the chops and a consistent track record of providing clients with long term, sustainable results:

#1: How long has your coach been involved in providing business coaching and what kind of certification does he or she have?

By determining how long the business coach or organization has been around, you can quickly determine whether or not you’re dealing with someone who is likely to be able to help you or who

is more likely going to use your business as a laboratory while they learn on the job.

But don`t merely use the number of years an organization has been around as a yardstick for gaging its effectiveness. Make sure you determine whether or not the firm`s principals are going to be personally involved in your business or if they plan on farming out your account out to a newly minted franchisee who has essentially `bought `his way into the world of business coaching.

Sure, it’s great that the organization might have been around for awhile but that’s meaningless if your interests are going to be handled by somebody who has only called himself a business coach for a year or two.

#2. What kind of accountability is in place to help me achieve my objectives?

Don`t be surprised if someone who calls himself or herself a business coach fumbles for an answer when you throw out this hot potato. Many simply have no system in place to help ensure that you receive maximum value for your business coaching investment.

If you don`t receive a substantive answer when you inquire about the coach`s commitment to accountability, you may want to continue your search.

The fact is, accountability really depends on how you – the client – define it. The professional business coach will want to understand what accountability means in your organization. Only once this has been identified is a true business coach in a position to offer a method or structure to make sure you and your organization stay on point and meet your objectives.

You need to determine what works for your people and their culture. To get to the core of this, you need a business coach who not only understands how to do it but also appreciates the importance of using this approach.

#3. Do you have a comprehensive resource I can refer to between coaching sessions if I need some direction?

Nothing beats experience. Being “on the ground” where the real learning takes place.

And that’s what your business coach should be able to bring to the equation. That way, he or she can help you build a bridge between where you are today to where you want to go. Your coaching sessions should provide you with the insights and strategies you need to help you achieve your objectives.

But what about the “in-between” times? Those disconnected moments when your coach isn’t there? Where can you find the guidance you need to make sure you maintain a sense of momentum that will carry you through until the next session?

The solution is to find a business coaching organization that understands the importance of continuity and has created a means for providing you with support between the gaps in your coaching sessions.

After all, your business doesn’t stop in between sessions. You never know when you’ll need some critical information to help you address a particular situation -whether it has do with strategic planning, developing quality leadership or dealing with an employee relations issue.

Having some kind of resource you can refer to when your business coach isn’t available could go a long way towards increasing your confidence in determining how to handle a given situation. Be sure to find out how the business coach handles this important aspect of the relationship.

Although getting answers to the questions above isn’t a guarantee to finding an effective business coach, the way they’re answered will give you some real insight into what to expect from a particular individual.

If your questions are met with hesitation, uncertainty or a lack of clarity, chances are you are not on the right track.

On the other hand, if you receive complete, confident responses you can rest assured you are most likely well on your way to identifying a true professional business coach that understands the foundational keys for business success – experience, accountability and effective communication.

For more information on how I and my team can make a difference in your business, please visit http://www.AndrewBarden.com

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