Thinking about a business coach or mentor? 3 questions to ask, or face making the wrong decision
You are looking for a new commercial path for yourself and your company. What makes you so sure that you have the required skills to find the next gig by yourself?
Unfortunately, you have led your company into a mess. Does it not take somebody with an outside perspective to help guide you through the next set of challenges?
In my experience, there are reasons galore why people seek out a business coach or mentor. What is intriguing for me is why so many choose the wrong person for the job. Worse still, they only come to realise the mistake once even more havoc has been created.
There are three core questions business owners should ask themselves
1. Why use a business coach? What’s in it for me?
You could benefit from the experience. You may stay focused. You will hear a different opinion.
All of this and more is very valid. Now consider this related question. Why do top sport’s professionals – for all their brilliant abilities – still use a coach?
Because the coach is able to get that bit extra out of a player. It is the ‘delta’ that makes the difference between average and trophies, between nice prize money and mega advertising deals.
As Dale Carnegie courses teach, the difference in shots played by the best golfers is not that great. Somehow, those like Woods and McIlroy hit 0.1 less shots than the chasing pack.
2. Who is a good business coach?
You could learn from their knowledge of your industry. But this is a classic mistake. Nobody says you have to choose somebody who is an expert and / or who is from your own field of commerce.
There is a well-known story of how one day, the golf coaches did not turn up at a sports club. Replacements were found from the tennis group. The following day, the golf coaches were stunned at the improvements in their pupils’ swing and driving.
The person you are looking person requires the ability to sit back and to analyse what you are (and are not) saying or doing. They also need to be able to resist your pushback. Taking on somebody with your own mindset means there are now two of you in the room agreeing with each other. This does not foster change.
3. Is a business mentor worth the investment?
Many experienced mentors will request a lot of money, as an hourly rate or retainer. Most will not work for a success fee. Surely that seems unfair? At the risk of being seen to want to protect my own income, I argue that there is an alternative and more informative perspective.
Assume you are charged US$100 per hour by your mentor. How many hours will it take, before you obtain your first extra client? And many hours are required before you break even, capturing a return on your investment? Don’t be cheap! As the old phrase goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Yup – all good questions? But here is the one people forget to ask before all else. What is the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant, and which is the most suitable for you?
All through this blog, I have intermixed the three phrases, deliberately. While there are similarities, there are intricate and significant differences. Briefly: –
- A coach develops core skills and strengthens weaker abilities.
- A mentor provides insights, guiding like a teacher. (Look up the origin of the word!)
- A consultant is usually very hands-on, often doing some of the work.
Where do I come in?
Peter Fisk has written about the corona era:
57% of today’s largest companies were created in a downturn. A crisis accelerates change, it disrupts the old codes of business, it forges new ideas and loyalties. Consumer priorities change and new behaviours emerge. Now is not just the time to survive, but to thrive.
Corona or otherwise, my years of experience enable me to create that spark and to drive the changes that executives seek.