Most likely, you just need someone who will listen, then guide you to the outcome you want … and need.
The question is – “Who should that someone be?”.
The usual answer is to employ the services and skills of either a MENTOR or a BUSINESS COACH.
Allow me to explain the difference.
A MENTOR is an adviser who can usually provide solutions to business owners with temporary problems.
Since they have a lot of hands-on, real-world experience in solving problems that plague businesses, they should be called in whenever you’ve got an issue that you can’t handle alone. Maybe you don’t have the right tools, or you don’t have enough experience.
A mentor works with the often “hard” aspects of a business:
Most Mentors address a specific aspect of your business. It’s kind of like outsourcing your delivery logistics, but with a mentor, what you’re getting is a fresh perspective.
A BUSINESS COACH will advise you on what you need to do to be better. This role involves helping you to address mental obstacles that are blocking you from realising your full potential.
Business coaches work on “you”. They help you develop your purpose and often ask you questions to help you discover your own “why’s”.
You’re a business owner, but you’re also a human, which means you’re potentially weakened by cognitive biases and thinking traps.
A BUSINESS COACH will help pinpoint these issues and teach you how to avoid them so that you can stop self-sabotaging your business and really start believing in yourself.
You might need a business coach if…
These issues aren’t caused by the business – they’re caused by a chasm in your thinking process.
A good business coach will pinpoint these issues and poke at them until they find the root causes, and then they’ll help you address those causes.
Business coaches will help you with problems that directly impact your business, and connect you with tools that can get you to the next level.
For example–if you have a chronic customer complaints problem, your coach might tell you to start a staff on-boarding and training program that’s geared to heightening awareness of what it takes to provide a positive and memorable customer experience.
Regular meetings with a great business coach will serve as a support framework that can keep you accountable on your business journey. Whilst others around you might well support you (such as friends and family), sometimes what you really need is a huge push or a big fat dollop of the honest and unmitigated truth.
Back to the UNICORN……
Some business coaches are actually mentors who provide a holistic approach to your issues.
They’ll address the aspects of your business that are failing or need more work. However, they’ll also help you out of thinking traps and other mindset mistakes.
A Unicorn is a mythical creature, someone amazing who is hard to catch or simply a very rare find.
To figure out if a business coach is actually a coach-mentor (Unicorn), look at the services they offer and the experience they share on their site.
If they talk about topics like growing your business or increasing your profits but also talk about work ethic and personal responsibility, then chances are that they’re a coach-mentor.
How do you find a good business coach?
You shouldn’t rely on your business coach for the day-to-day trivialities. Their job is to guide you to an independent state where you can handle the mental and emotional blockers that are preventing you from running your business successfully.
What qualifications do they have?
Anyone can say they’re a coach. Be especially wary of any business coach who has no real world business experience and has just a bought business coaching program or has an MBA Certificate hanging on the wall.
How much experience do they have?
The ideal business coach has coaching experience and business experience.
A business coach who has successfully scaled their own business will be able to identify more strongly with your fears, pain points, and issues – because they’ve been there. They may even had business failures from which they have learnt what NOT to do.
They “get it”.
Does their scale fit with yours?
Mindset approaches are different for self-employed business owners, professional services providers or and founders with a hundred employees.
Do you run a mini business (Solopreneur), a tiny business (2-5 staff), or a small one with say, upwards of 10 staff?
No matter what your answer is, make sure you stick with a business coach whose portfolio includes businesses of your size.
Are you truly compatible with them?
Be diligent when choosing your business coach.
They might seem perfect, and have a ton of experience relevant to your business but if you can’t relate to them/establish a rapport with them, then you are likely better off with a different person as your mentor coach.
Check out their social media.
For instance, if you’re looking for a coach who can help you deal with your negativity and fear but one of your candidates keeps posting on social media about how amazing they are and how awful other people are, then they are highly unlikely to be a good match for you.
Read the content they put out, too.
If so, then that’s a great sign that your 1-on-1 sessions will be even more helpful.
What are their values?
Business coaches are still people too.
Think about your own values, and check to see if they match up with the coaches that you’re vetting. If your foundations are mismatched, then there’s no way you’re going to have a successful relationship in the future.
Their content might be the best you’ve ever read, but if something feels “off” when you speak to them in person, go with your gut.
What do they offer?
Some coaches will offer a free initial consultation so you can see what your subsequent meetings will look like. This is a good deal. You can get to know each other and see if there’s a good fit between what you need and what they offer.
During this time, ask them about their other offerings: will the price you pay include other services like classes, books, and programs? Or do you have to pay more for those?
What do past or current clients say?
A business coach with no testimonies is suspicious.
If they don’t have any references that you can contact, then step away. It means that they either A) don’t have any clients yet or B) don’t trust that their past clients will praise them. And when you’re throwing down wads of money for their expertise, you definitely want proof that they’ve helped other people find success.
Written testimonials on their website can be convincing but check to make sure they include real names of real people with real companies. Testimonials are easy to write and they’re powerful because they immediately increase customer and lead trust.
Ask your coach straight up if they’ve got references you can contact. If they seem iffy or hesitant, you don’t have to immediately cross them off the list; just proceed cautiously.
How are their communication skills?
A great coach can creatively solve problems and don’t get stuck on basic issues that might confuse newbies. More importantly, they’ll work with you to create a personalised plan of action that addresses your specific blockers.
They also won’t use a bunch of confusing, obscure words that you need a dictionary to understand. An ideal coach will speak in a way that you truly, simply “get” plus they’ll also listen to you.
There’s a huge difference between listening for the sake of listening, and listening because you really want to respond and get in a word or two.
Does your potential mentor/business coach seem more focused on sharing their “obviously-amazing” knowledge, or on listening to your problems and guiding you towards a solution?
These questions should help you in your search to find a great mentor/coach (Read – “Unicorn”). Remember: don’t feel guilty for asking a lot of questions or for thoroughly vetting the coach you plan on working with.
(CEO & Founder)