Do you own and operate a business and feel that you should be further ahead than you currently are? Perhaps you feel stuck or that your progress has plateaued? The truth is, without a business coach you’re unlikely to reach your full potential.

Hi, I’m Eric Partaker, and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders close the gap between who they are and who they’d like to be, or where their company is and where they’d like their company to be. Here are six reasons why you need a business coach, and how to choose one, based on my experience advising Fortune 50 CEOs at McKinsey & Company, my time helping build Skype’s multibillion dollar success story, and from having helped scale over 100 companies to date, including my own.  

The 6 Reasons You Need a Business Coach

#1 You recognize the need for change

The first reason that you might need a business coach is because you recognize that there’s a need for change. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with your work or that you don’t have enough time to do what matters most. Perhaps you feel imbalanced and that the amount of work is coming at the price of your health or relationships.

Maybe you’re tired of going home and repeatedly saying, “Yes, I’ll be more available later. I just need to get this done. I just have to finish this one email.” Maybe you have goals, but you’re not properly hitting them, or maybe you don’t even have any goals, but you know that you should -yet- quarter after quarter goes by and they’re still not in place.

Or perhaps the performance of the company, a team, or an individual is not exactly where you think it should be. All of these reasons and many more could prompt you to recognize there’s a need for change.

#2 You want to develop a competitive edge

Perhaps you want to develop a competitive edge to beat the odds. What do I mean about beating the odds? Well, here’s the simple truth – 96% of businesses never achieve sales greater than $1 million per year. Let’s flip that around, only four out of 100 break the $1 million mark. Would you like to break the $10 million mark? Well, that’s only 0.4% of companies. So, the odds are against you, and scaling your business to $1 million in sales, and then to $10 million and beyond is like turning pro and making it as a professional athlete.

Now, imagine Tom Brady or Lionel Messi during their career, looking over to their coach and saying two games into the season, “Hey, you know what coach? I think I got this. You can take the rest of the season off.” It would never happen, right? So, think about this, if even the very best need a coach to both get to and stay at the top, what does that say about the rest of us? So, if you really want that competitive edge to beat the odds – if you really want to ‘turn pro’ and play in the big leagues – that’s another reason why you should hire a business coach.

#3 You want to reach the next level

You recognize that you want to reach the next level. Maybe you’re a founder and you want to transition into becoming a CEO. Maybe you just want to be delivering more strongly within your industry or sector or transition from being number six, five or four to number two or number one in your industry. Whatever it may be, that next level might be the inspiration for you to bring on a business coach.

This was certainly the case for me. During one of my entrepreneurial journeys, I recognized a lot of gaps in my leadership. It was one thing to start a company as a founder, it’s obviously entirely another to scale one as a CEO. I recognized this and I voiced these concerns with my business coach at the time and he set my sights on a “CEO of the Year” award. Through his counsel and his help, I structured a two-year bootcamp, if you will, to shore up my leadership abilities and turn me into a better leader.

I interviewed other top performing CEOs to see what drove their success. I did 360s with my team to understand what they thought success looked like and to uncover my blind spots. I read various books on management and leadership that my coach recommended. All of this helped me transform from a founder to a CEO and culminated in receiving the recognition of “CEO of the Year”. So, if you want to reach the next level but aren’t sure how to get there, hiring a business coach could be the answer.

#4 You want to go faster with less pain

Perhaps you want to go faster with less pain. Maybe the journey today has been quite tough and full of hardship. Maybe you’ve questioned many, many times, why am I doing this? Am I really cut out for this? That’s normal. We all have those types of feelings. I certainly had a lot of them as well, but with the help of a business coach, you can accelerate your progress and move more quickly, avoiding common mistakes and recovering more quickly from setbacks, so you can hit your goals faster and with less pain

#5 You want to work ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ the business

The fifth reason you need a business coach could be because you recognize you need to be working more on the business rather than in the business. For example, are there a myriad of things that you’d like to be doing strategy-wise, but you just don’t have the thinking time? Are you constantly doing the work shoulder to shoulder with your team members when you should be coming up with that next big product idea or thinking about that next partnership or organizing that next round of funding?

If you find yourself constantly caught in the details of the business and not having enough time to work on the business, that’s another great reason to hire a business coach.

Now, let me just give you one caveat here. Working in the business does have its value and you should never completely distance yourself from that. You still want to spend time with your people and customers to see what’s happening on the front line.

The problem arises if you find yourself spending 80% of your time working in the business and only 20% of your time working on the business. If you want to grow and scale your business, you can’t spend so much time in the trenches. That ratio needs to be flipped around. 80% of your time working on the business, and 20% of your time to keep in touch with things in the business.

#6 You need support and accountability

The sixth reason why you might need a business coach is because you need extra support and accountability, or perhaps some comradery and challenge.

As a CEO, I’ve never felt lonely, but I’ve certainly felt alone in the role. There were issues or challenges that I perhaps didn’t feel comfortable discussing with board members, investors, or team members, but I always had an outlet for support with my business coach.

Similarly, on the challenge or accountability front, I trusted that my business coach, in the spirit of service, would dare to say to me the things no one else dared to say, and would push me and hold me to account where others couldn’t because he had an inside track into what was exactly going on, on a regular basis through the strength of our relationship.

Choose a Business Coach

How To Choose a Business Coach

So those are six reasons that might signal the need for a business coach. Now let’s wrap it up by going through how to choose a business coach. Firstly, look for a business coach that actually has experience in the trenches.

Here’s a dirty secret about the business coaching industry. Most business coaches out there have never run a business. Yes, maybe they’ve been in a leadership position before, yes, maybe they have a coaching certification, but they actually haven’t built and run a business. If you go into the CVs or the resumes behind coaches, you will see this for yourself.

As a result, many business coaches haven’t experienced what it’s like to nearly run out of money, or what it’s like to be up against fierce competition, working grueling hours and facing tough decisions, or any of the other highs and lows that are part of the entrepreneurial journey. So, the first thing you should look for is a business coach that’s actually been in the trenches.

Number two, look for a coach who’s going to help you holistically. If you really want to achieve high performance, peak performance, that next level, if you really want change, if you really want to crush the competition and beat the odds, then we can’t just look at what’s happening on the field of play. We have to look at what’s going on off the field as well.

What I mean is that traditional business coaching typically just focuses on helping you scale the company. Let’s get the strategy right, let’s get the execution right, let’s make sure that the people and the metrics are all right, etc. All of those things are important, of course. However, I like to think of scaling the company as the ‘hardware’ – and if the hardware is going to operate correctly the ‘software’ needs to be coded correctly. And the software consists of two other pillars that you must scale in parallel with the company – namely, your leadership and yourself.

As mentioned before, it’s one thing to start a company as a founder and entirely another to scale one as a CEO. A great business coach will help you cross the chasm and become the great CEO that your business needs and your team deserves.

Then there’s you as a person. According to research from Abraham Maslow only 2% of people are estimated to operate at their fullest potential. How about you? Are you operating at your highest possible level? Are you showing up at your best? Not just on the work front, but also the health and the home front – so that you feel balanced, rested, and confident, both professionally and personally?

So, in short, look for a business coach who’s going to provide that holistic lens, helping you scale not just your company, but also your leadership and yourself. Last but not least, choose a business coach that you like. If you don’t have good chemistry, you’re not going to get what you need from your coaching relationship.

So choose someone who’s been in the trenches, choose somebody who can help you scale up yourself, your leadership and your company, and choose someone that you like and you’ll be on your way to finding a great business coach that’s right for you.

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The 6 Reasons You Need a Business Coach:

You recognize something needs to change.

You want a competitive edge to beat the odds.

You want to reach the next level.

You want move faster with less pain.

You want to work more on the business rather than in the business.

You need support and accountability.

About Eric Partaker

Hi, I’m Eric Partaker and I coach CEOs to help them scale their companies and themselves, drawing from my time advising Fortune 50 CEOs at McKinsey, my experience helping build Skype’s multi-billion dollar exit, and the over 100 companies I’ve helped scale to date – as well as behavioral science from Stanford University.

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